Face your demons - Overcoming fears.30 May, 2011, by Seema Bhatnagar
How many times you hesitated in asking a question while attending a meeting in a room packed with 100 people, thinking that I might make a fool of myself if I ask this question and kept quite.How many times you hesitated in asking for a leave from your boss and hold back yourself in the fear of losing your reputation or may be losing your job.How many times you thought of leaving a boring and monotonous job but hold back yourself thinking about your fear of losing the luxuries of life which comes assured with salary.How many times you wanted to opt for a different career, which you would have loved to pursue but hold back thinking you cannot make money by choosing your favorite career. How many times you prepared well for your exams but then you experienced a complete blank out while appearing for an examination and you did badly.
You may count hundreds of other such instances when you wanted to do best or wanted to take a bold step but something from inside pulled you back. What is that force which sometimes works against us and does not permit us to do what we really want to do? It reminds an interesting quote : -
If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves. ~Thomas Edison
Yes, we are constantly chased by our fears whenever we want to do something beyond our comfort zone. Whenever we come across a difficult situation we start thinking of failure or may be getting criticized by others and before we may even think further we stop at the first step.
Demons are our fears, or situations which we are trying hard to avoid. These demons are always on their guard and ensure we do not cross our boundaries of personal comfort zone. The right definition of comfort zone, could be a state of mind in which you find yourself safe and confident and there is a less risk and fear of failure or rejection.
If you start recalling different situations in your life, you may very well come up with a list of fears which you may have faced. It is a hard fact, but we all have our demons sitting inside and we are passively nurturing them to let them become bigger then ourselves. There is a constant war inside us between these powerful demons and us.
Let's check what are our major fears in life. Napoleon Hill in his book Think and Grow Rich, has described six major fears which anybody may suffer from. Most people are fortunate if they do not suffer from the entire six.
- The fear of poverty
- The fear of criticism
- The fear of ill-health
- The fear of loss of love of someone
- The fear of old age
- The fear of death
Besides these, there are other fears also which may be overlapping with one or the other in above mentioned list. Well, on examining life closely, you would realize that more or less you have faced all these fears at point or another.
Knowing the fact that fears are natural part of our personality, we should not be afraid of them rather we should take steps to tackle them and finally eliminate them from root.
What exactly is Fear?
All creatures on this earth are wired to survive and they are given inbuilt mechanism of fighting for their survival. Whenever there is a threat for the survival of the being there is an urgent action called which could be either FIGHT or FLIGHT, i.e. either fight it out or run away from the scene or situation. This response is called Fight or Flight response to a stimulus. This is a way in which nature operates. So, we can say that our fears are natural mechanism for our protection. Observe yourself and you would realize the fact, how often we operate in this state quite naturally without even being aware of it.
Fear is a chain reaction in the brain that starts with a stressful stimulus and ends with the release of chemicals that cause a racing heart, fast breathing and energized muscle. The stimulus could be a spider, a knife at your throat, an auditorium full of people waiting for you to speak or the sudden thud of your front door against the door frame.
Fear is nothing but the state of mind. It is an emotional reaction to external stimulus. When we experience fear we lose the power of our faculties and become limited and conservative in taking actions. Our thinking gets limited and creativity goes down.
Emotions in state of fear
Our fears are not expressed in a straight forward way rather they take help of certain emotions to express themselves. Few of those emotions are:-
- Indecision Expressed through diminished power of taking decisions: You avoid taking decision and permit others to take decision on your behalf.
- Doubt:Criticizing or feeling envy towards success of others.
- Inferiority complex: Covering up feeling of inferiority and generally seen as imitating others in dressing, manners and speech.
- Personality: Lacking firmness in decision, personal charm and getting easily agreed with others without examining in detail.
- Lack of poise: Poor body posture, nervousness in presence of others, lack of voice control and poor memory.
- Lack of initiative: Fear to express opinions, hesitation of manner and speech, lack of confidence, giving evasive answers to questions asked by superiors, deceit in both words and speech, lack of interest in self-advancement.
- Extravagance: Spending more than ones income.
- Lack of ambition:Habit of accepting defeat without protest, suspicious of other people without cause, mental and physical laziness, quitting an undertaking when opposed by others, lack of self-assertion, slowness in reaching decisions, easily influenced by others, the habit of criticizing others behind their backs and flattering them to their faces, lacking in tactfulness of manner and speech, unwillingness to accept the blame for mistakes.
- Jealousy: The habit of being suspicious of friends and loved ones without any reasonable evidence of sufficient grounds. The habit of accusing wife or husband of infidelity without grounds. General suspicion of everyone, absolute faith in no one.
- Fault Finding: The habit of finding fault with friends, relatives, business associates and loved ones upon the slightest provocation, or without any cause whatsoever.
Susceptibility to negative influence: This is the most dreadful demon which saps energy and debilitates individual from inside. This makes individual to think negative for every undertaken task and drives mental state towards failure. This becomes the sole reason of failure in every endeavor.
How to overcome fears?
I too had some personal fears in the past. Some of them are, striking a conversation with strangers, avoiding people, fear of exams. Basically, I used to be a people pleaser and used to try my best to please others. Probably, the fear of rejection by friends, groups, family made me to think that way. But over a period of time I worked on these fears and have overcome all my fears. I am no more a people pleaser, but that does not mean that I do not understand others but now I know my boundaries very well and have no fear if somebody rejects me for my company in future.
Knowing the fact that fears are natural part of our personality, we should not be afraid of them rather we should take steps to tackle them and finally eliminate them from root. You may try following tips to overcome fears.
Identify your fears
The first step is to identify your fears, what is that reason/situation/person which is causing any fear. How many fears you have? It is quite possible you might be suffering from many fears. Just note them down on a piece of paper and keep going.
Confront your fears
Once you identify all the fears, pick each fear and walk through it. Give a deep thought about its origin. Probably, you are handed over this fear by your parents/peers/sibling/friends, or it could be anybody. It might be possible that you picked it subconsciously during childhood and it has no relevance anymore.
Think of worse
Once you confront a fear, think of worse that could happen due to this fear. Once you understand the worst situation, you are basically combating with demon and making it weak. After visualizing the worst situation you have empowered yourself against the demon and have developed a good level of confidence.
Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Be conscious of your emotions during this exercise and do not doubt or stop the flow, however strong or meaningless they may be. Once you are done with confronting your fears, there would be lightness in body and a new feeling of self confidence. In fact, our fear provides us an opportunity to be more aware of our emotional states and we can live more consciously.
Live a happy life
Confronting our fears is very important for living a happy life. Due to these fears you may lose some of the best opportunities in life and may have to compromise with mediocrity when you have all the potential inside you. Secondly, having fear means constant battle inside which may eventually end up in bad health and invisible mental stress and anxiety.
A fearless life is a basic building block to live a happiest possible life (check out Live your best life), no amount of money, love, external support, assets and daily prayers to God can make us happy when we have an army of demons sitting inside us.
Overcoming your fears would enable you to live the best of your potential, empower yourself with a new confidence. You would be more willing to experiment and take risks in life rather living life like a mediocre. So take the first step and be a warrior to kill demons and make yourself a happy being.