Monday, 30 May 2022 13:44

How Fear Holds Us Back and the First Step to Overcoming It

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Throughout my personal journey towards growth and healing, there is one theme that continues to crop up on my radar. That theme is fear. Fear is arguably the one emotion that prevents human beings from accomplishing their goals, fulfilling their dreams, and achieving everything they want tin life.

Fear has been categorized as an “opposite.” It’s the opposite of love. The opposite of hope. The opposite of success. Fear holds us back. It tells us we aren’t good enough or that we will never achieve the kinds of things we want. Fear puts doubt in our minds and makes us stay the course. Afterall, life isn’t perfect and it was never promised to be perfect, but at least we are alive and healthy with the way things are.

Fear makes us cling to certain outcomes for our lives. We should stay in an unhappy relationship. We should continue to speak to our toxic friends because they have been part of our lives for years. We should continue to take the criticisms of our family members because that’s just the way it always has been.

I have fears that I am too ashamed to say aloud, but I will say them anyway because the first step to overcoming fear is to face fear head on. I am scared to write and share my story with one person, let alone more. I am afraid of judgment, rejection and pity. 

Sometimes my only companions are Depression and Loneliness and I fear there will never be anything else. They come knocking more times than I would like, always filling my head with lies and untruths, but being so convincing, I believe them. They tell me I am not lovable and will never find someone to love. The proof, they say, is what happened between me and my husband and the fact that I am still alone. They say, “You couldn’t love your husband the way he needed you to. That’s why he left. No one could love you the way you want to be loved.”

When my mother died when I was a child, I blamed myself for making her go away. My father turned to alcohol to cope and didn’t give me the attention and love I needed from him. I sought his love and affection in other ways. I starved myself and exercised excessively for years, striving in vain to achieve the perfect body. I was ashamed of myself for not being able to be perfect, and so I never took chances for fear of rejection and abandonment. Judgment used to be right there waiting for me whenever I made mistakes. It called me fat, ugly, and stupid, and took away any shred of confidence in myself. 

Mental illness runs in my family. Depression, anxiety, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, and psychosis all have afflicted members of my family. But no one talks about mental health in my family. It’s too shameful and embarrassing. Except for now, when I decided to speak out. 

My fears still haunt me. Loneliness and Depression still like to remind me of my shortcomings. But the opposite of fear is hope, sparked by something that has always been inside me. Some flickering flame that knew she was always worth the life given to her. The flame gets stronger, braver, smarter, and wiser. It has turned into a small blaze and with new-found courage, it will turn into a raging conflagration. Because brave hearts speak their truth in order to help others feel not so alone. 

People with mental health issues need to know that it is okay to talk about. They should not fear for what people might say or think. Mental health is no longer the stigma it once was, and the braver souls who speak out, the better things will get. And the more communication about this topic, the less grip it will have on those afflicted.

Fear paralyzes us and perpetuates the secrets we all harbor within us. I want this article to be the first step in conquering fear. With the confession of some of my fears that I have kept inside for a very long time, I hope it can also inspire you to write down your fears and releasing the grip they have on your life.

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