Thursday, May 17, 2007

Conquering Fear: Part 2

"Don't be afraid to go out on a limb. That's where the fruit is." - H. Jackson Browne

Fear is a funny thing. I know this because I remember seeing a list of the most typical fears people have and number one was public speaking. Amazingly, it was more common then the fear of death! It seems everyone has their phobias. Some of the more uncommon ones include the fear of:

Atomic Explosions- Atomosophobia.
Bowel movements: painful- Defecaloesiophobia.
Chopsticks- Consecotaleophobia.
Dust- Amathophobia.
Friday the 13th- Paraskavedekatriaphobia.
Kissing- Philemaphobia or Philematophobia.
Mother-in-law- Pentheraphobia.
Peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth- Arachibutyrophobia.
Tickled by feathers or feathers- Pteronophobia.

What are you afraid of? It seems to me that sometimes we have rational fears (like say of death) and irrational ones (like say of bunnies). The trick to overcoming fear is of course to face it. Understanding our fear is good, deciding to act on it is great, but it is all for naught if we don't face it. Whether we expose ourselves to what we far slowly, building up our courage (as I am taught to do in counseling) or in confronting it head on, it is the only way to master our fears. Whenever someone tells me they are afraid of something I wonder what function that fear serves. It is helping you not to commit to something? Is it helping you stay in your comfort zone and not risk rejection, fear, or challenge? When we are afraid of something we are choosing to give it power over us (and then make ourselves miserable by doing so). Facing our fear often seems impossible because we assign catastrophic results to doing so. "What is the worst that can happen?" and "If my worst fears come true, could I survive?" are good questions to ask when confronting our fears. Most of the time, we can survive just fine. Confront your fears, you'll thank yourself later for it. And if you see me cowering in the corner sometime, please remind me of my sage-like advice!

May Light increase!


Jobina said...

If I ask myself "what's the worst that can happen?" it usually ends with "I could die". I guess if I could come to terms with that, then I wouldn't be afraid of anything. But then, if I'm not afraid of anything, then I would have no fear to conquer. Wouldn't that make me less courageous?

Mark said...

Jobina: I'm guessing that when you confront day to day fears if your answer is usually "I could die," that you are either not being very realistic or all of your fears are related to your physical safety. And yes, if the worse thing that can happen is dying, then the question won't work well for you. For others, who have fears beyond their physical safety, the question can be very powerful. For instance, if one is afraid to quit their job/talk to a friend about their drinking habit/be honest with their family/etc. and they ask the question, they may realize that their fears are not based on anything really, really bad, but rather on fears that have never been fully explored. Fully exploring your fears is another way to beat them I think.