Facing Fear With Courage
“Feel the fear and do it anyway!” according to Susan Jeffers book, but what does that mean when I’ve lost my job, I can’t pay the bills, or I’m stressed with over-work…?
There are many sources of fear. Unfortunately, we all to a greater or lesser extent seem to feel that our value as a person is dependent upon some external quality, like wealth, success or popularity. When we hang our self-esteem on the achievement of certain goals or our popularity with others, any threat to those goals or to our relationships threatens self-esteem and leads to fear.
Our own material society implies that people are only valuable if they attain certain symbols of success. So somewhere along the line we all pick up the need to project a ‘persona’ or mask to protect our self-esteem. This persona consists of a successful, strong and confident self that is fully in control. Anything that threatens or undermines that persona causes fear.
Which of the following currently threaten your persona or self-esteem?
- Losing your job
- Being wrong
- Not meeting targets or objectives
- Being passed over for promotion or reward of some kind
- Being criticised, making a mistake
- Challenging the status quo
- Not being liked
- Being different, left out or ignored
- Not being able to maintain the same standard of living
- add your own threat
Another facet of fear is its link with desire. Fear can come from the anticipation of not getting what one most desires.
Can you identify with any of these commonly held desires:
- Being in control
- Being powerful
- Being right
- Being perfect
- Being helpful
- Being needed
- Being liked
- Being the one to come up with the brilliant idea
- Being the centre of attention
- Being noticed by the boss
- Being included in the power structure
- Being respected
- Being seen to be successful
- Being clever
- Being attractive
- Being rich
We have to be wise about our fear – it is a natural, self-protective response and saves us from harm. But we need to recognise that when it is coming to dominate our thinking and to shape our beliefs about ourselves and our world, then some action is needed – to face that fear with courage.
Think about the fears you’ve identified from the lists above. Decide which are natural, self-protective responses and embrace them. Understand those which have come to dominate your thinking and are unhelpfully shaping your beliefs about yourself – how can you address them and move on from them? Take the time necessary to deal with these fears, to put them behind you so you can move forward, and work out what you really want to do now.
“Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past me I will turn to see fear’s path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” (Frank Herbert, “Dune”)