I used to be such a scaredy-cat. I suppose it came from my overprotected upbringing. I won’t fault my parents here. They were only doing what they thought was in the best interest of their child.
However, as a result, the fearfulness lingered even into my adulthood. Then, life brought on challenges, disappointments and losses one after the other, and slowly I found the fears falling away.
Realizing and accepting that many things are not in our control was the first step to conquering many of the things I used to be afraid of. Keeping an open but not reckless attitude of believing that all things and events have their season helped me, too—that endings and beginnings can never be forced if they are truly not meant to be.
Sounds romantic, but true. All things come into fruition in His time, that’s why it’s also important to be discerning.
Here are some ways that clinical psychologist and yoga teacher Ishita Gupta, who also blogs at fearlesstories.com, suggests we practice when faced with our fears.
Act, not respond
First is to act, rather than respond. Gupta says that we have been so used to responding to our environment that it’s always hard to take in new sensations. We are never comfortable with discomfort, whether it be from our environment or from our emotions.
She says, “We want to stop feeling the discomfort, but by wanting something to be different than what it is, we perpetuate it. If you can’t change your situation, ignore it, get used to it, or think about someone worse off than you. Being flexible with how things unfold in new situations is a golden rule for staying calm.”
Second, she suggests: “Panic about only what you need to.” And even then, panic doesn’t really help much. Gupta says that there are really only a few reasons to freak out in life, and you will be better off being in control of what you can, and leaving the rest. Start off with the belief that you will never really be able to control everything. Unless it’s a life-and-death situation, just chill and ask yourself: “Will this even matter a month/year from now?”
Third, keep a positive mental attitude. “Believe wholeheartedly that things will work out, because there’s no reason they shouldn’t. I once read, ‘Do something calmly, do something quickly, but do something. Do not sit idle in the face of danger.’ No matter what, your safety depends on your ability to be aware and calm, and that will give you enough energy to act, even if you’re scared.’
For me, believing that God is the one in control of everything has helped me a lot. Knowing that I will never find myself in a pit too deep where His love is not deeper has always helped calm me.
Seek out positive people
Gupta’s fourth suggestion is tough, especially if you do not have an abundance of them. Listen only to positive people.
I always like to say, surround yourself with positivity and people who believe in your dreams. Pragmatists, of course, have an important role in our life, but it’s people who do not focus on life’s little worries that help us sail through the toughest times. The one who affirms you realistically and says, “Don’t listen to them, I’m sure you can handle that,” or reminds you that “this is just a momentary setback. All things pass,” is the one you want to be with when fearfulness strikes.
Lastly, look within, fearlessly. Now, this is tough. But if you are able to do this and really look within you— what you are fearful of, or what pains you, or prevents you from taking the next step—then overcoming your fear becomes easier.
It’s never easy to ask ourselves the hard questions because the answers might not always be those we want to hear. We would rather just sweep them under the rug. In extreme cases, we medicate or get addicted—to drugs, alcohol, sex, work. On this list are emotional eating, explosive anger or displays of emotion, and senseless shopping/hoarding, all of which are destructive behaviors.
However, trust your kind inner voice, not the bully within. Be patient with yourself, take time out to listen, then act on the guidance given you.