I’ve learned that fear limits you and your vision. It serves as blinders to what may be just a few steps down the road for you. The journey is valuable, but believing in your talents, your abilities, and your self-worth can empower you to walk down an even brighter path. Transforming fear into freedom – how great is that?
So there I was in the backseat of my parents car pulling up to Busch Gardens theme park looking at their new roller coaster. I said to myself, “No way I am getting on that!” Just as soon as the thought hit my head, my friend Diamond from college who was going with us yelled, “We are so getting on that!” Obviously there was a conflict of interest here. Once in the park, understandably my parents had no intention of even thinking of riding it as she was very excited to try it. For myself, well, I didn’t want to “punk out” in front of her so I agreed to get in line with her crippled in fear. The closer we got, the more screams I could hear and the more my knees began to buckle. I remember her asking if I was okay, and I replied “Yes, I’m fine,” even though my insides were crying, “Help me!”
It was our turn, we got on the ride and made the slow ascend to the top of the first drop. It didn’t matter the drop at this point, because my heart and stomach had already dropped. I closed my eyes as fear was clearly taking over, and wasn’t sure what was about to happen. The ride dropped, looped, twisted, turned, and can you guess what happened next? I got off the ride having had the time of my life! I enjoyed the ride so much that we both agreed to get back in line and rode it one more time.
We then went to see the picture that was taken, and instead of seeing terror on my face, it was a face of excitement and thrill. So, what happened here? If you have been reading through the series this far, we can begin by analyzing the thought which triggered the emotional and physical response of fear. My mind had a stored memory and a stored reaction. See, as a kid I was put on a roller coaster and for some reason it terrified me. Fast forward maybe ten years, while on a family outing I attempted a roller coaster only to find that the conductor did not secure the bar on me. The entire ride I was holding on for my life. From that moment on, the thought of getting on a roller coaster caused my mind to refer to the stored memory, and triggered fear as a response because of a past experience. After getting on the roller coaster in this case, I learned something from the previous strategy, that I can accomplish anything with my life. I realized that I feared a ride that was not only designed for my thrill, but for my safety as well. There was nothing to fear, but previous experiences taught me otherwise. Once I overcame the fear which was rooted in my past, I could no longer find a roller coaster that was fast, long, or thrilling enough and would ride any coaster that was presented to me. I overcame fear, and that is what we must do with all aspects of our lives.
“K. Devon Pendleton
There are times in which we must leave our comfort zones to grow, and there are times we have to stay within our boundaries if we are to be successful in life. The wisdom comes in knowing the difference between the two.
Fear is one of those challenges in life we find hard to overcome, but with the right tools, fear can be overcome. The first thing we will discuss about fear is that we tend to fear what we do not understand. So in confronting fear we must first seek to understand what we are afraid of. The way to ensure this will be successful is you are going to have to look at fear in the moment and not in the past. For a moment detach yourself from past experiences and see what you fear as it is today. As in my case, I would seek to understand the roller coaster I was about to get on. What I could do is read the safety information about the ride, talk to an attendant, or even do research online to understand the ride. What I would discover, is the difference between the one I was about to ride and the two previous ones. Sure, they are all coasters, but each was different. I can direct my mind to face this as a new experience or challenge. So whatever it is you are afraid of, start to find ways to understand more about it. Research it online, read books, talk to experts, or find other people who have been through what you are going through. Please keep in mind, that some deep rooted fear may need the assistance of a trained and licensed professional to help you through it. Please do not take that for granted.
There is a good reason I shared that with you. Since we are discussing how we should seek understanding, let us understand what fear is. A definition of fear is, “an unpleasant emotion caused by being aware of danger : a feeling of being afraid.” It can be further defined as, “a feeling of respect and wonder for something very powerful.” With this we must understand that fear can be a hindrance because it holds us back, kills our dreams, and keeps us from our destiny; it stunts our growth. Yet at the same time, fear is something that is vital and necessary. Psychology Today notes this about fear:
“Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger—if we didn’t feel it, we couldn’t protect ourselves from legitimate threats. But often we fear situations that are far from life-or-death, and thus hang back for no good reason. Traumas or bad experiences can trigger a fear response within us that is hard to quell. Yet exposing ourselves to our personal demons is the best way to move past them.”
When we have made the effort to understand what we are afraid of, we must also determine whether or not the fear is healthy or unhealthy. Fear can hold us back, yet at the same time fear can save our lives. Fear is something that helps trigger our fight or fight response, and without that we can place ourselves in dangerous situations which can bring us, and those around us, harm. We must have the wisdom to know the difference between when we leave our comfort zones, and when we stay within our boundaries to keep us safe within our means. Saying that we will not let fear or worry hold us back does not mean that we erase all fear, but recognizing when situations can be conquered and we execute strategies to conquer that fear. Because if we are going to progress in life, reach our goals, fulfill our dreams, or answer our call, we are going to have to let go of the unhealthy fear and worry that is holding us back so that we do not miss our chance for success and victorious living.
* Not knowing when your lifetime will come to an end should be reason enough to take advantage of every God-given opportunity. It wouldn’t be a good idea to wait for a certain day, time, or age to make a life-changing decision when that expected day, time or age is not promised to you.
If we have come to understand our fear in the moment of today, before we move forward we have to take into account our previous strategies. We are going to have to have a passion and desire to conquer fear and once we understand how our past affects our current fears, we seek to detach and resolve our feelings from our past experiences. We must also be confident and know that we can accomplish anything with our lives, including conquering fear. Letting go of past experiences and facing today with confidence is the first step in breaking the chains holding you back so that you can move forward in your life.
This weeks exercises:
- Make a list of all your fears. (spiders, new job, moving, starting my own business, skydiving, going back to college, etc.)
- With each item listed, find ways to research to gain more understanding about the fear.
- Is the fear unhealthy (something that is holding us back from progressing) or healthy (dangerous or potential harm) ?
- Do you feel this fear can be overcome? Why or why not?
- With each item listed, think back to see if the fear is tied to a past experience.
- Compare current fears with past experiences and determine what can be done to resolve how you feel about your past experience.
- Pick one fear that is unhealthy that you would like to work on.
- Take the information you gather and review it until you feel reassured you can move forward. Don’t forget to talk to experts or others who have been through what you are going through.
- Find at least two (2) people you trust and share your fear with them. Also share the information you have gathered. Get their feedback on your fear and see if they can offer more information to help you and also help keep you accountable for overcoming the fear. Try not to walk this journey alone.
- Make a plan on how you will overcome the fear, and make a plan for what you do if you feel overwhelmed. Do not feel like you have failed if you try and feel overwhelmed. Take a moment to regroup, and try again. Remember, change is brought on by repetition.
- When you have overcome the fear, take a moment to reflect and learn from what happened.
- This can help build your confidence for working on your next fear. If you did it today, you can do it tomorrow as well!
- If the overwhelming feeling is too much to bear, seek assistance from a qualified individual such as clergy, a therapist, or counselor who are most likely trained to help you deal with your fear.
- Review the items you have determined to be a healthy fear.
- Try to think of benefits you get by continuing to keep this fear.
- If you cannot think of any benefit, rethink to see if this may actually be an unhealthy fear to be changed.
- Whatever remains, accept the benefits of the fear. Speak with someone you trust to see if they agree that the fear is indeed healthy.
There are some fears that I overcame in the moment, just as the roller coaster, and there are some fears that took more time and effort. In my experiences, the best tool I’ve ever used was prayer and faith. In those times where it feels overwhelming, I pray and ask for God to help me through it, and to help me to both face and conquer my fears. In 2 Timothy 1:7 we find, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” This is a constant reminder to myself that if I live in fear I run the risk of not having a sound mind; my mind won’t be at peace. Fear and worry can lead to anxiety and stress. Chronic anxiety and stress can lead to all manner of health issues whether it be mental, physical, emotional, or spiritual. We have the power to overcome our unhealthy fears and with faith in God and faith in our ability to achieve, we can move mountains.
As we discussed previously, do not get discouraged if fear doesn’t go away overnight. Some change can happen instantly, and some change will take time. Because fear can be tied into so many different things, I recommend that this be a journey you do not travel alone, especially with overwhelming fear. But know this; you can do it! Make today the day you make the declaration that you will no longer allow fear and worry to hold you back any longer. You will get that degree, start that new business, climb that mountain, ask that person out on a date! You will stand before people and speak with confidence, you will get that promotion, you will go scuba diving!
What is it that you want to do with your life, but have not because of fear? Those are the things I want you to see yourself accomplishing because you can take control of your mind and your mind can control your life! Inasmuch, you can accomplish anything in your life! With passion, desire, and confidence, take the first step. And with each step you take, you are erasing unhealthy fear from your life and the chains of fear will no longer hold you back. This battle which is in your mind, you will be victorious! Be wise, be confident, and be set free from fear and worry. The world is waiting on you to break free, so break free and show the world you are not afraid any more!
[su_quote cite="Philippians 4:6-7"]Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.[/su_quote]
[su_quote cite="K.Devon Pendleton"]To become an overcomer, you must begin to challenge life.[/su_quote]
- If you have been following through on the past two strategies, our morning declaration was changed to, “I control my mind, therefore I control my life. I am confident I can accomplish anything with my life.” Now let us wake up each morning and say, “I control my mind, therefore I control my life. I am confident I can accomplish anything with my life and with that confidence, fear and worry will not hold me back. I will succeed.“
- On a piece of paper or sticky note, write down, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear. I will not be afraid; I will live in peace.” Place it where you can see it daily and read it out loud. If you get discouraged throughout the day, repeat this phrase and try to keep your thoughts positive.
- If you have been participating in all exercises in the series so far, take a moment to reflect upon and noticeable changes.
- Make a list of these changes. Next to each item, assign an event in which you will celebrate that change. (i.e. eat ice cream, go shopping, see a movie, go for a massage, etc.)
- Put these event on your calendar and be sure to celebrate your success.
- 30 Day Prayer Challenge. Click the link to be taken to a document that gives a 30 day challenge in fighting fear and anxiety. You can do this each day for 30 days, or scroll through the topics and focus on your specific need.
This strategy is not intended to address fear in it’s entirety, but a way to open your mind to observe and begin to work on your fears. There are way too many fears to be addressed and I only covered fear in general. I encourage you to work on your fears with someone you trust or a trained professional, especially if the fear is overwhelming you or causing you anxiety or stress. If you would like free coaching assistance for what was covered in this topic please use the request form below. I’d be more than happy to assist you. In our next topic, we will address the strategy “I will live one day at a time.” Thank you for your time and may you have a successful week.
*Quoted from the book “Though I Walk Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.”; June 7, 2016; Published by Alephshin; Written by Ericka Harris.