The Fears That Rule Over Us

We are a product of our greed and fears - says Michael E Gerber in his book the E-Myth Manager. I believe that while our greed motivates us to take action, our fears literally push us to action (or inaction). Fears are what hold us back from doing things that we want to do or they cause us to run from things that we should stand and face.

Who Is Afraid?

You, me and everyone else in between. We all are afraid of something or the other. The other day I came face to face with a person for whom I had dome some work a year or so back. The project had gone bad and it was closed down due to the poor results that we delivered. After the close of the project I had not met this person until the fateful meeting that happened the other day. I saw him, and he was walking towards me, and I froze.

I opened my mouth but not a word came out of it. It stayed open like that (fish face) for few moments until the person walked past me on the way to somewhere. I realised after he was gone that I was holding my breath with my mouth open. Once he disappeared from my field of vision I was able to take a long deep breath and close my mouth. Phew, I thought.

I froze. I feel so embarrassed thinking about it now. I was paralysed by fear. Fear of what? I do not know. When I sit alone and think about the things that I would want to say to him, a few thoughts come to mind. But even in my solitude I can’t bring myself to carry out a full (imaginary) conversation. I am afraid of the feelings of fear, that will come to me when I have this imaginary conversation.

Instead I let the desire to have this imaginary conversation go and decide to have it at a later date. When? Later. Someday. Probably when I am better at handling fear. I can recount many such fears that reside in me, and these fears have prevented me from asserting myself where necessary, defending myself when required and communicating my wants in times of need.

Exposure Therapy

Whenever I am faced with a problem that is bothering me, I do one of two things.

  • One: Buy a book on solving the problem (there are thousands if not millions of books on overcoming fear)
  • Two: Ask the all-knowing Google to point me to content that can tell me how to solve this problem that is troubling me

A google search for “how to overcome fear” will give 11,80,00,000 search results. So it is obviously a problem that bothers a lot of people. And many people have found ways to overcome fear. There are specific steps that can walk you through the process of overcoming each and every type of fear known to man. Among the solutions that I have had the patience to go through, I find that Exposure Therapy seems to be an often used method of treating the debilitating and the mundane fears that rule us and keep us from being all that we want to be.

Here are some useful links where you can read more about Exposure Therapy.

Exposure therapy simply says that if you repeatedly expose yourself to the situation that causes your fear reaction to to flare up, you will start the process of building resistance to it. Most of the time, it is the unknown that causes more fear in us than the known and familiar. So if you keep on putting yourself in the situation that you are most afraid of, eventually the negative effect of the fear will wear off and the negative effect will become manageable. It may or may not ever disappear completely, but it will certainly become manageable.

What is Holding Me Back?

Take a look at the video above. In this video - How to overcome fear - Brendan Burchard talks about three types of pains that feed our fears and keeps us from doing things that we want to do.

The three types of pains are:

  1. Loss Pain - The fear of loosing what we have now. It can be a comfortable position, a non-challenging environment, the status-quo.

  2. Process Pain - The fear of having to follow a new process, a fear of changing habits and our daily routine for an outcome that may not come about. Fear of starting some gruelling schedule that might give us nothing in the end.

  3. Outcome Pain - The fear of the result of a particular action. What if we are not happy with the result? What if we fall flat on our face and embarrass ourselves in front of others? What if we achieve that which we set out to achieve and that success brings more problems with it or brings other problems with it? What if the outcome means that we have keep putting ourselves in situations that bring us more fear?

If I had no fears…I would…

After I came to know about exposure therapy, I thought, “Ok! Sounds great, what next?”. I think that I am so used to being in fear all the time, that I might have suppressed a lot of my desires and wants to avoid feeling fearful about them. So, how can I begin? Do I know how to be fearless? Do I know how to start exposing myself to the fears that bring me down to my knees? Do I know how a fearless person would handle a situation?

These are some of the questions that flood into my brain and they try to overwhelm me and shut my brain down. In the process of finding answers to these questions I found a nice trick to help get around these questions. Instead of focusing on being fearless, which I don’t care about much, I can focus on finding out what I want in this life / this year / this month / on any particular day / today / now.

To find out what I want, the trick is to complete this sentence:

“If I had no fears what so ever, I would want to do _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _”.

This sentence gives my brain a free reign to dig deep and discover what I really want. I did this last night and came up with a nice list of things that I want to do, my fears notwithstanding.

Awareness Is The First Step

It is said that awareness and acknowledgement of a problem is the first step towards finding a solution for it. I am big bag of fears, no doubt about that. But I know that now, and I know how to overcome fear. The crucial step now is identifying all my desires - the smallest to the biggest. And then exposing myself to the fear that stops me from trying to get what I want (again smallest to the biggest). The steps have begun. My fight against fears has started and I will overcome them all one fear at a time.

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Written on October 2, 2015