The last few days I have been thinking a lot about fear. It used to be something that I dealt with on a regular basis. I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back I would definitely say that I struggled with anxiety. Maybe you can relate. I probably should have talked to a counselor at that time, but I didn’t. I just silently struggled with it day in and day out. And, while I most definitely wouldn’t say that I never experience fear or anxiety anymore, I would say that I have come a long way in learning how to overcome fear.
Experiences I have had with fear
- In high school, I didn’t want to work in fast food. I wanted an office job. I started a conversation with the school advisor and was able to get connected with a job interview to work part-time in the office of a car dealership. It was outside of my comfort zone and different than a lot of my friends were doing, but I pursued it anyway. I’m still thankful that I didn’t work fast food as a teenager. I had a job that I took seriously. And, not that working fast food is bad, it just wasn’t what I wanted.
- My husband and I both quit jobs to go “all in” on a business that we started when the economy was in the middle of the great recession. We gave up the security of steady paychecks and health benefits in order to pursue something more. It was scary, but we weren’t able to fully go after what we wanted while being in the comfort of our jobs.
- We sold our business without a real plan of what was coming next. Our plan was to sell our house, but home values still hadn’t recovered and we weren’t able to sell. But, our business did sell. That meant we had all our living expenses still, no way to move, and no income coming in.
- We pursued a job that didn’t exist. My husband and I had an idea of work that we could do for our church. We saw areas that we thought we could fill a need and we wrote a proposal and submitted it to the Business Manager at the church. We didn’t know exactly what we were doing or how it would be received, but we stepped out to do it anyway and it ended up being exactly what was needed at the moment on both sides.
- I quit that job at the church because I wanted to grow my freelance content writing business, but didn’t have the time to keep dividing my attention between both jobs. It was scary because I was once again giving up a steady paycheck for something that was not steady at all.
- We accepted an offer on our house without knowing exactly where we were going. Well, we knew we wanted to move down around Sarasota, FL but we didn’t have a plan. I was only doing my freelance work, which wasn’t enough to cover all of our monthly expenses and Dustin put in his notice at the church. We didn’t have a job lined up. We went on vacation to Sarasota while our house was in escrow and Dustin interviewed and accepted a position. Then we had a week to go home, pack our stuff and head to Florida. The deal on our house wasn’t final yet and we had already had one fall through. It was scary.
- When we headed down to Florida we didn’t have anywhere to live. We had a few possibilities lined up and they fell through as we were making the drive from Michigan to Florida. But, we really wanted to get settled and the girls in school on time.
- When we lost all peace about being in Florida while we were driving down to Florida we had a decision to make. Did we just push through to Florida even though nothing about it felt right or did we face our fear of being judged by others, having to figure everything out again, and drive back up to Kentucky (another place we had debated moving to for years)? Now we live in Louisville, Kentucky.
The important part is, I’m still here
Not everything in life has gone as planned. I haven’t included all the details here of each story. There was a lot of fear in every one of these situations. There was also a choice to make—face fear and keep moving forward or let fear keep me stuck. It wasn’t always a smooth process. But, there is one thing that was a part of every story—action.
Fear was not going to just go away. It doesn’t work like that. Instead, I (or my husband and I) had to decide to take action even though we felt afraid. Overcoming fear is not possible without action.
How to overcome fear
I wish there was a magic formula that I could give you that would make overcoming fear feel good. I wish there was something that would take the hard part out of it. Or, I even just wish I could tell you that eventually if you work hard enough, you won’t experience fear anymore. But, it doesn’t work like that.
There is no magic formula. There is no way to eliminate fear from your life.
But, what if that’s a good thing? What if the feeling of fear could be used to keep you moving forward towards your dreams. Here’s what I have learned about overcoming fear:
1. It’s all about mindset
You have to learn how to control your thoughts if you want to move past fear in a situation. If all you do is keep thinking about the thing you are afraid about nothing will change. You can worry yourself sick and you won’t make anything different for yourself. Well, you’ll feel even worse— the knot in your stomach, lack of sleep, irritability… you get the picture.
When there is a fear you want to overcome, you need to fill your head with thoughts that will strengthen you. One of my favorites is 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” As silly as it may sound I used to repeat this to myself over and over before making cold calls to grow our cleaning business. Eventually, I would feel just a little more powerful and I would pick up my phone and dial the next number. Sometimes, I had to do this between every single call.
Choose a few quotes, verses, or sayings that will help you shift your mindset from fear to power and faith.
2. Limit your conversation with those that live in fear
If you have a friend or family member that lives in constant fear and anxiety, don’t share your fear with them. If they don’t know how to manage their own fear they aren’t going to help you with yours. Instead, you will both just end up with more worries.
If you want to talk to someone about a fear that you have, choose someone that is strong in that area. And, don’t be afraid to talk to a counselor or therapist. There is no shame in getting help from a professional.
3. Start taking action
You’ve probably heard the famous John Wayne quote: “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” That’s great advice. Fear isn’t going to just go away. But, if there is something that you want to do then you need to take action and do it.
For several years I wanted to try my hand at using videos with my blog. I had a Disney blog when I was working as a travel agent and would have loved to make videos answering all the planning questions that people have. But, I was scared. I don’t like to be filmed and I don’t like groups of people staring at me and even if they weren’t actually in front of me, it played out like that in my head.
I let this fear hold me back in this area for two years. Then, this year I determined I wasn’t going to do it anymore and shared my first video on social media. I was nervous. I felt a little sick. And, it was fine. I survived and no one said anything mean. And, even if they would have, oh well.
I have posted several other videos since then and I always feel nervous, but not like the first time. It’s because I took action and found out that the world was not going to end because I posted a video of myself on social media. There was no real danger that I was facing. And, I’m guessing that most of the fears that you have don’t put you in real danger either.
Start overcoming your fears
Ok, now it’s time to put this to use in your own life.
- Find some quotes or verses that will help you change your mindset.
- Choose one thing that you have been afraid of that is holding you back.
- Make a list of the specific actions that you need to take in this area.
- Take action! Start doing the things on your list even if you feel afraid.
- Keep a journal of your experiences to use as a reminder the next time you are afraid.
Life has so much to offer us if we will just be courageous enough to step out of our safety zone.