In this piece, I’m going to be sharing few tips with you on how to face your fears and surmount same.
Typical of my approach when making such piece as this, much as I find it quite discomforting, often try to leverage on my personal realities and experiences to give effect to my message.
I’m a very shy fellow. But that’s not the problem. I dread phone calls; easily get freaked out and uncomfortable with phone calls, especially when the conversations are taking longer than normal. Maybe until lately, were I to be subjected to serious job interviews via phone calls, would possibly fail to secure the job, on this account. Interestingly, I used to think it was a problem peculiar to me but I have come across few other people who suffer from the same ‘disorder’. I’m not alone after all (smiles).
So back to my issue. There was this awkward event that happened sometime back. My mother in-law being so nice and amazing, always wanted to talk to me for long, but perhaps she observed that each time she called, I’ve always sounded agitated and kind of wanting her off the phone too soon on each occasion. She read me right! She would later jokingly raise it with someone close asking, “Is it that this dude is afraid of me, or just a phone-call shy fellow?” It was that bad for me.
Now here is how I’m facing my fear in this regard and surmounting same. I call people close to me more often than I used to. Even in the face of discomfort, I intentionally drag my conversations longer in order to train my mind to take the pain. Like it’s often said, you either take the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. There are no two ways about it. And trust me, I’m getting better at this. I think, no longer get as much freaked out with calls as before. Though, I still prefer text or whatsapp messages to phone calls.
Petty and small as this personal story might be sound, I should believe you now have an idea of the direction of my today’s piece.
Putting things in clearer, what is fear? In my view, fear is any feeling of emotional discomfort or agitation in response to a threat of pain, danger, failure or harm. We all know how painful and agonizing it is to fail at something dear to our hearts. The pain that comes with disappointment. The pain that comes with ridicule and public ignominy associated with failure. The pain that comes with not living up to public expectations, misplaced and unnecessary notwithstanding. The pain of business failure. The pain of electoral loss. Fear does arises not out of an activity nor our incapacity to do same, but largely, out of consequential pain. We dread the pain that comes with taking a line of action.
We are not afraid of marriage per se, but the loss of absolute freedom and privacy that ‘singlehood’ avails us; the fear of the several unknowns associated with that union of two distinct personalities. We do not really fear going for an exam, but for the pain of negative outcome of such exercise. We do not really fear pulling the job plug and starting our own business, but for the pain of business failure. We do not really fear taking up that new job, but for the pain of getting to the new work environment, only realize that it’s a terrible place to work. We get agitated not out of fear in itself, but the pain, danger and the harm we could suffer if we take a wrong course of action. Beyond the aforementioned, we all have fear for petty something too. It could be fear of death, flying, driving, public speaking, or phone calls like myself (smiles).
Frankly speaking, fear is nothing but that beautiful prison we carefully put together right in our heads. If we can master the pain of failure, frontally face the danger and harm associated with a course of action, fear becomes meaningless. We all often get to certain stages in our lives when we need to take decisions. Critical decisions. But then, we hold back for fear of the unknown. Fear of dealing with pain of public judgements. Fear of failure. As a risk management professional, I think am at vantage point to say that comfortable inaction or indecision, on many accounts, is riskier than doing what needs to be done per unit of time, even if the outcome turns out negative.
Now let’s be clear. I’m not saying, we should blindly delve into risky adventure without having a full clarity about the rewards and consequences of failure thereof. No, the point is, your fear is nothing but your self-built prison. Or what do you say of someone who for every misfortune, s/he believes some village people or step-mother somewhere is after him/her? I’m by no means saying there are evil eyes, though.
Now how do we overcome our fears? I will suggest few points here:
One. Get a Grip of Your Life Purpose
Many of us are existing, and not living. Life isn’t about those basic life functions that animals themselves are privileged to enjoy anyway. Every living being eats, sleeps, works, and have fun, somehow. We all do all that. A life not driven by purpose will always be in fear of nothingness. Since you have no clarity around your life purpose, there’s tendency that you have difficulties trusting anyone. You will likely build your life around societal hearsays and superstitions. Go to remote villages and see amazingly brilliant minds, but held down by societal limitations, lack of education and superstitions.
Two. Stop Letting Your Past Control You
Most things we dread so much are products of our past experiences, and justifiably so. But past failures, disappointments and let-downs are meant to serve as lessons and a watershed for future actions that produce better outcomes. We just need to let go of the pain of the past in order to forge ahead for a better future. Many years ago, I almost got drowned while swimming. That experience still hunts me till today. I dread taking ferries. I dread swimming. I need to let go of my past hurt too. Not letting go of past experiences have ways of negatively shaping one’s risk appetite.
Three. Always Look at the Bigger Picture
When you have tendencies of shortermism (i.e. always looking for immediate benefits), fear will often and most likely hold you back in many critical decisions. When we are self-seeking, we tend to be short-sighted. Short term benefits might look tempting, but they often come with long-term benefit loss. Same applies to fear of temporary failures. Temporary failures might sometimes just be the launching pad we need unto greater things, but fear of going through the pain again, selfish as it might be, often time derail our thought process from seeing the bigger picture. Ever heard of Deferred Gratification? Do not allow failure at early stage of your academics, career or business hold you back. Bad decision (earlier informed by facts) is far less costly than comfortable inaction. Look at the bigger picture.
Four. Get a Grip of the Situation
When you’re caught between two terrible choices or you’re caught in crisis (be it career, academic, business or even marital), that’s the exact time to never lose yourself to fear. At that point, you are perhaps vulnerable and most unlikely to think straight, and yet you might have limited time to take certain decisions. On many occasions, uninformed fear contributes largely to the pain and discomfort we feel when in trouble. When in crisis, many of us get drenched in fear and endless lamentations and hopelessness. Take an instance of someone diagnosed with a terminal, but manageable ailment. Having hopeless thought driven by fear could easily worsen his/her case. However, with positive spirit and right frame of mind not driven by fear and lamentations, s/he is likely to live a longer and healthier life. When in fear-some fix, get a grip of your situation and take the plunge. Face your fears, frontally. Learn to live with your troubles. Face them like a boss!
Five. Take the Plunge
We all have those petty fears we possibly laugh over. I earlier gave you an example of my deep-seated fear for swimming or any form of water transportation. I’m personally encouraged by this piece, to go out there, take the plunge and eliminate this fear forever. You see, we become bolder and more determined at dealing with more critical life issues when we make deliberate effort to tackle little fears, we often take for granted. And now that’s my challenge to you. Take on that little fear you joke about; take the plunge and get over it with.