The paramount notion that fear should be faced head on, is easier said than done. The very core of our bodies handles fear in different ways. When fear is sensed, the corporal physiological response is fight or flight. This has protected mankind for centuries, yet, it’s evolved into a psychological issue leaving people trapped in a loophole.
This safeguard is catalogued into different categories or should I say, scenarios. We can walk at night and sense something wrong, and our fight or flight response kicks in as protection. Sometimes we create narratives in our heads of what-if scenarios which intrinsically leads to unsupported suspicion. It’s hard to ratify because it’s unnerving what to believe or how-to respond. The main component is how and when we need to react. The most advantageous response is how to turn fear into strength.
From Psychology Today, they list out five basic fears.
Extinction—the fear of annihilation, of ceasing to exist. This is a more fundamental way to express it than just "fear of death." The idea of no longer being arouses a primary existential anxiety in all normal humans. Consider that panicky feeling you get when you look over the edge of a high building.
Mutilation—the fear of losing any part of our precious bodily structure; the thought of having our body's boundaries invaded, or of losing the integrity of any organ, body part, or natural function. Anxiety about animals, such as bugs, spiders, snakes, and other creepy things arises from fear of mutilation.
Loss of Autonomy—the fear of being immobilized, paralyzed, restricted, enveloped, overwhelmed, entrapped, imprisoned, smothered, or otherwise controlled by circumstances beyond our control. In physical form, it's commonly known as claustrophobia, but it also extends to our social interactions and relationships.
Separation—the fear of abandonment, rejection, and loss of connectedness; of becoming a non-person—not wanted, respected, or valued by anyone else. The "silent treatment," when imposed by a group, can have a devastating effect on its target.
Ego-death—the fear of humiliation, shame, or any other mechanism of profound self-disapproval that threatens the loss of integrity of the self; the fear of the shattering or disintegration of one's constructed sense of lovability, capability, and worthiness.
One that’s not mentioned, which I think is prevalent to all, is health or mental health. How many of us have turned to Google to look up all our symptoms? It’s considered worry, but I classify it as fear. When we are correct, the fear factor goes unhinged. Your flight now turns into fight.
Background on me before, I speak on behalf of my health issues. I have typical fears of flying, heights, clowns, and wasp. Other than that, I have always been a very strong individual who doesn’t back down and stays true to my convictions. I’ve always sensed danger and have been correct. I’ve never considered myself my weak until Jan 2020.
Health Issue fear:
For years, I was in constant fear that something was wrong because of my unrelentless migraines and constant pain. I was quickly brushed aside by physicians that I was fearing something not substantial. Yet, I took this fear and investigated it. It’s compulsion, and probably not considered healthy, but there was something in my core trying to protect myself. I’m glad I did, because I learned the symptoms of a stroke. When it came, I was quick to react. I turned that fear into a strength for my survival.
In the days I spent in the hospital faced with surgeries, I could’ve coiled, but I took my fear and said if you are going to make it, you must be strong. I fought, and I fought harder than I ever have. Even when my body was saying no, I said, yes. I told myself I’m not done, even though there was fear. This strength also helped me quickly recover, even though my type of stroke has a recovery time that takes months to a year. I’m not fully healed, but there.
Presently, post-stroke I’m going to honest, I’m in constant fear that I could have another one, or my VP shunt is not operating precisely. I fear that people will get irked with my posts. I fear my emotions are changing. I fear every headache I get is leading to something big. I fear I might go to sleep one night and not wake up. I fear that people will not empathize with my memory or struggle. I fear that I will turn into a shell. I thought I was finally able to juggle all the balls in the air and now they are all dropping. I had to stop in my tracks and ask myself, you’ve been given a second chance, are you really going to be fearful your entire life? This fear and pain prepared you for life- a new one.
Now some of the fears I must keep in the back of my mind to protect myself physically. The others as I noted in the beginning are unsupported suspicion. So, I knew I had to get back to no fear. I began to look all over the internet to help inspire me.
I stumbled across Fearless Motivation on Facebook and watch all their motivational speeches. Their words were powerful and lit a fire. I admit, I cried each time I watched the videos because it spoke to me. The paramount message is that we all face fear and pain. These two shouldn’t be looked at as failures, but something of strength. As one video pointed out, without fear and pain you won’t be prepared for the next time it happens because there will be a next time. It’s what you learn and how you react that gets you through the next time.
So, I decided to put it in practice. First, I had to realize that strength is easy to say out loud but hard to demonstrate. I’m not referencing faking it, so people believe you have it, but for me, I had to believe it. You must start by stripping the layers down until you discover the deep crux. I assure you, nothing goes smooth, no matter how much you want it or tell yourself that you have conquered that level. This takes time and practice to truly learn about strength because life will throw many curveballs in the midst.
Pain produces strength. However, I feel that fear is something that isn’t tapped into. We all have it. It’s something we face daily from the mundane to a crisis.
Before I go into how to turn fear into strength here are some pointers from 24 Life that taps on how fear can work for you. You can click on the link below more details.
Fear establishes boundaries.
No matter what the origins, “Fear holds people back from doing things they’d like to do and would benefit from doing,” [doctor] Mantell says. “F-E-A-R [can stand for] Face Everything and Run. The key is to flip it to F-E-A-R: Face Everything and Rise.”
Fear helps us navigate risk.
From Dr. Mantell
Step 1: Recognize that you are feeling fear.
Step 2: Identify the thoughts you are having that create that feeling of fear.
Step 3: Challenge the thoughts: Are they true? What else can I think about this? How do I know what I’m predicting will happen? What steps can I take to calm myself down to properly respond (not react) to this situation?
Fear makes us wise.
“Yes, fear can help people develop wisdom, but the link is what you think,” Mantell says. “So when people experience fear and understand it rationally, with a calm mind, they are then clearly able to see that it can be grounded in something that is deeper, and this may lead to wisdom—the wisdom not to believe everything one thinks.”
Fear develops courage
A requirement of courage is fear. To be courageous, you need to face a fear head on.
Fear makes us resilient.
Dr. Mantell explains, ““Resilient people accept their fears, and that builds strength to embrace, overcome and harness fear.” When you focus your fearful experiences as sources of personal strength, it can help you learn strategies that can build resilience.”
Fear can motivate.
Pushing past a fear can be a goal in itself. “Fear can motivate,” Mantell says, “often more than a positive reward.”
My non-clinical conclusion about turning fear into strength, follows Dr. Mantell’s statement of turning fear into “face everything and rise”. That’s the heart of the fear issue that we face. We can’t continue to hide, worry, crawl in a ball, stop living a social life, become frozen. We must take every fear that we have, examine it, and then learn how to face it and overpower it. It won’t be easy, it will take practice, but don’t ever let a failure stop you from pressing on. You keep at it and repeat until you have mastered your fears. This doesn’t mean that we ignore issue, either. We still need to be vigilant, but there is a balance of using intuition for life situations to fight and rise.
The reality is, many people are struggling with self-doubt about their life and if their medical, mental, or situational problems will ever see the light. It’s far easier to go to a dark place because you can give up in the face of fear. I want everyone to know that we all have strength. It’s what has carried mankind through centuries. We have faced dire situations in past and have overcome them with resilience. That strength is implanted in all of us. If you doubt it, do some soul searching and strip down everything as difficult as it is. List them all out and in another column add how you will find the tenacity to overpower this. You are strong. It’s in you. Don’t let fear defeat you. You will find by examining your fears, you will come out stronger than you were before. The bonus, the next time you are faced with a struggle, you will know how to handle it.
“Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict.”– William Ellery Channing
“Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is a freedom.”- Marilyn Ferguson
“Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.”- Dorothy Thompson