Written by: Mike Oglesbee, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Fear can be one of the most debilitating forces on Earth. It’s responsible for many mental illnesses, such as anxiety and depression, the loss of hopes and dreams, failures, and many struggles people experience. We are conditioned into a philosophy of fear at a very young age. It’s in every facet of life, and it’s unavoidable.
“Your ability to manage fear will dictate the level of success you can attain” – Robert Kiyosaki
Fear is a powerful deterrent often used to control and confine human potential. We usually do our best to avoid, run away from, or hide from it at all costs. Anything to escape the discomforts of the pain and suffering it produces. But trying to escape fear is useless because it lives within us. Where do you go to get away from yourself? Fortunately, there’s a much more effective way to handle your fear; make friends with it.
#1 Fear is self-created
While fear can be scary and painful, it can also be mitigated. The primary reason for this is that it’s all made up. It’s a product of your thoughts and beliefs. Take a moment to tune into one of your fears. Notice the story that’s playing out. It’s a future-based story of a possible negative outcome you don’t want to experience. Of the many possible results, your mind primarily focuses on the negative ones.
One of the primary ways your brain and body learn is through experiences with a higher emotional charge. Mistakes, wrongdoings, and struggles throughout life typically create higher emotional states than positive experiences, which initiate the reticular activation system (RAS) at the base of the brain stem and cause the mind to focus on and reinforce them. Your fears hold a higher emotional charge, activating the RAS and causing you to strengthen them.
Many of your fears were passed down through your environment. For example, suppose your mother had a fear of spiders. As a child, you learn about yourself and your environment from those around you. When you see someone you know and trust react with fear to something, you adopt their perspective and behaviors. Now you may have that same fear of spiders.
Learning to manage your self-talk and the stories you allow to play out in your mind can help you mitigate your fears. I recommend writing out your fears and exploring them in detail. Using the example above, you may write out the following:
What if a spider bites me? I might get sick and have to go to the hospital. It may kill me. Then I wouldn’t feel well. They are mean. Spiders hurt people. I hate the way they look. They look scary.
Once you’ve written out your fear and explored it, begin to question it, research, or work to expand your knowledge on the subject. For example, with a little research, you will learn that the chances of dying from a spider bite are 1 in 3 million, less than your chances of dying by a lightning strike (Adminpest, 2023).
Question everything you’ve written out. Your fears need to be challenged if you want to release them. And one of the most effective ways to do this is with knowledge. Most fears are based on lies or distortions of the truth, so when you come to a higher understanding of those things you fear, it can help you release them.
#2 Fear is a mirror
Though uncomfortable, your fears reveal your mental limits. They show you the areas within yourself that need attention. When you approach your mental limitations, you will undoubtedly experience some form(s) of fear to let you know. It’s not there to stop you, even though it may feel that way. Instead, it’s there to reveal the aspects of yourself that must evolve and change to cross that boundary.
Often, these are character flaws, aspects of your identity, and who you believe yourself to be or not be. We don’t get what we want in life; we get what we are. Take a moment to look around at your world. Every person lives in their own curated reality. Their lives fit them because it’s a reflection of them. And the same applies to you.
When working to overcome your fears, learning how to introspect is essential. Introspection is a process of examination or observation of your mental and emotional processes. Since fear is a product of your mind and reflects your internal mental and emotional processes, that’s where you’ll need to go to overcome them.
Many people reject their fears because of how they feel when interacting with them, but if you want to overcome them, you must befriend them. After all, when you reject them, you’re rejecting yourself because they are expressions of you. Overcoming your fears is an act of self-love, and you’ll never achieve that through an act of rejection or hate.
Introspection doesn’t have to be complicated. You can begin by asking simple questions like what this means about you. What does this say about who you are? What character flaws does this reveal about you? How can you work on them? What would you need to change within yourself to overcome this fear? Or, you could imagine yourself having overcome your fear and then dissect whom you became or what you did to achieve it. Then, work towards those qualities and actions.
#3 Fear is a gift
Have you ever overcome fear and not become better because of it? Fear may be uncomfortable, but it’s one of life’s greatest catalysts for human growth. When you encounter fear, you have a choice. You can shy away from it, or you can embrace it. Shying away will always keep you where you are in life. However, when you embrace it, step into it, and push through it, you will always come out on the other side better because of it.
Fear is meant to be experienced and holds some of life’s greatest gifts. But you can only receive those gifts by extracting them from the fear. This requires you to embrace and use the fear as a launch pad for personal growth. Using your answers to the above questions for introspection, you could address these fears by working on the internal factors that propel them.
By addressing your fears from within first, you will create growth. This will lead you to outgrow your fears. Many seek to change their externals to mitigate their fears, but this is short-lived and rarely successful. Working from the inside out will provide long-term solutions. Changing what things look like doesn’t change what they are. Most people only think they are afraid of something outside themselves. In truth, they hold a story of fear within themselves that they attach to their external world.
Over the years, I have worked with many people to overcome the fear of bridges. The first goal is to help them realize they are not afraid of a bridge. They usually don’t fear the structure, materials, or heights. They will drive over some bridges without any issues but not others. They have a story of fear they attach to those certain bridges they are experiencing fear with. This is important because if they are afraid of the bridge, the bridge must change so they no longer experience fear of it, which is never the case.
As you introspect to learn more about yourself, think about the gifts and possibilities your fears may hold for you. Begin to ask questions such as, if there were a gift in this, what would it be? Is life trying to help me in some way? In what ways could this help me become better as a person? Is this helping me develop into the person I need to be to reach my goals?
Understanding your fears in a new way is necessary to overcome them. You no longer have to run from them. They are life’s teachers here to help you become more, do more, and achieve more. They can be painful, but pain moves us far more effectively than anything else. Life is continually working to support you and your desires. Begin making friends with your fears and watch your world expand.
Mike Oglesbee, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Mike Oglesbee is an author and a transformative coach who has been helping people eradicate their fears and live more effective lives since 2011. His diverse, unique background and experience with struggles and debilitating fears, both personally and professionally, have led him to create a robust system and philosophy that addresses the root causes of these disturbances. he devotes much of his time as a coach, mentor, and advisor, to teaching and helping people understand themselves in a more profound way that allows them to step into their power and make the changes they desire in their lives.
Adminpest. (2023, March 31). Chances Of Dying From A Spider Bite & Products To Use - Pest Phobia. Pest Phobia. https://pestphobia.com/chances-of-dying-from-a-spider-bite/