Living Through Fear | 4 Tips To Face Your Fears

living through fear

With anxiety disorders, comes a lot of fear. The world is undoubtedly a scary place, but trying to avoid everything that scares you, isn’t living. It’s just existing. It’s our responsibility to focus on living through fear. 

I’ve spent a long time avoiding the things that scare me, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve actively been trying to face my fears. But I’ve started with the little ones, like going to the grocery store alone or asking a store clerk for help.

Every time I manage to do something that once scared me, I feel a lot more capable and far more like myself. Because that’s the thing, your fear isn’t you. Your fear doesn’t make you who you are. In fact, it often stops you from being who you are.

Here are some tips for living through fear and taking the necessary steps towards becoming your true self.

Facing Your Fears

facing your fears

Staring your fear in the face is no easy task. But it is a necessary step if you want to break out of the prison created by your fear. It’s also a lot easier to stand up to your fear if you know what you’re fighting. You need to be able to feel your fear, and face it anyway.

At the end of the day, your fear is only a feeling. And you can be stronger than that feeling.

But I understand, facing your fears isn’t easy. You have to deal with trauma responses and maybe even panic attacks. But it’s okay to take baby steps. Those can be as small as setting the intention or writing it down on paper. Then you keep taking those baby steps until you’re ready to stare your fear in the face and kick it to the curb.

NOTE: The fears I’m talking about aren’t things like being afraid to walk on the street in an unsafe area or playing with venomous snakes. I’m referring to the irrational fears. For example when I was a kid living in Reading, UK I was afraid of crocodiles (Thanks to Roald Dahl’s The Enormous Crocodile). Completely irrational.

To face your fear you need to do four things:

1.   Understand your fear.

understanding your fear

You need to unpack what it is you’re afraid of.

  • What triggered it?
  • Where did it come from?
  • Where in your body do you feel the fear?
  • Is the fear rational? (It’s more than okay if it isn’t)
  • What type of fear is it? (Check out my article on primal fears to figure this one out)

In my case, I’ve had a couple fears that I’ve worked to conquer. For example, going to the grocery store alone. The fear stems from a fear of embarrassing myself, being hurt or getting stuck. All of those are very real fears, but their manifestation as being afraid to go shopping isn’t rational or functional. The likelihood of me getting kidnapped and murdered just by going to the shops is so low. And if I’m armed with knowledge and practice vigilance (and even carrying a taser or pepper spray), I can easily go to the shops.

2.   Face your fear

living through fear and anxiety

Once you’ve unpacked your fear, you actually have to try and conquer it. It’s time to look it directly in the eye. But as I said above, these can be baby steps.

For my fear, I started first by just driving to the shops. That was all, no expectation of getting out the car. I felt okay, so I decided to take it a step further. So I got out the car and walked into the shops. I was super jumpy the first time and I’m pretty sure I fumbled through checking out and raced back to my car. But it was the first step. Nothing bad happened and as such a new neural pathway was created.

3.   Don’t be afraid to fail

afraid of failure

Not being able to face your fear is completely normal. You might not be able to conquer it the first time (or even the tenth time). The goal is to rewire your brain and create new neural pathways so your nervous system no longer sees your specific fear as such a big threat.

When facing your fear, you need to meet yourself with compassion. Don’t let yourself get stuck in the failure, or be too hard on yourself. You’ve got to keep trying. You need to fail forward. Change your perception, you haven’t failed. You’ve just found out how not to do it.

4.   Dare to do it again

dare to face fears

This is probably the hardest part – doing it again. However, repetition is the best way to solidify those new neural pathways you’re creating.

Fear takes control when you sit in your failure. Fear wins when you don’t keep trying.

Every time I’ve gone to the shops since the first time, things have gotten so much easier. I have a system now and I barely ever feel that same fear that once ruled my life. I’ve had some shopping trips where I’ve had panic attacks or had to run to the bathroom, but I’ve made an active effort not to let those setbacks keep me from growing and stepping into my life.

Another great tool for unpacking your fears is the FEAR acronym.

Final Thoughts on Living Through Fear

If someone had told me a few years ago that I had to face my fears, I’d have shut down completely. I wouldn’t have even considered it. The mere thought was too overwhelming and I wasn’t ready. I didn’t know how and I was stuck in my comfort zone.

I wasn’t happy but I was only moderately miserable. I was terrified of failing and making the situation even worse. I was settling for being half alive. Facing your fear won’t work for you if you aren’t ready and willing.

When I finally decided to do the work and step out of my comfort zone, it wasn’t easy. I failed but I got back up again.

Every time I faced my fear and survived, I became a little bit stronger and a whole lot braver.

Eventually, I started seeking out things I was always too scared to do and pushing myself to do them. I was always gentle with how I did things because pushing too hard too fast was how I ended up terrified and hiding in my bedroom. I understood what I was capable of and then pushed myself to live up to my potential.

I’m still pushing myself to try new things. This week, I’m heading out to watch a place I’ve never been to with someone I’ve never been out with. It might sound small, but for me, it’s something that scares me. But I’m trying not to let that stop me.

Journal Prompt

Think about your biggest fear, where did it come from? Journal about it.

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