Ask one of my closest childhood friends and they’ll be hard-pressed to tell you that I am a big scaredy cat. Not a lot of people know that I have a lot of fears. I used to resent this, as I thought that it somehow made me weak. But as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that there are good things about being scared. For one, it definitely makes me a more cautious person. For another, it makes me more observant and analytical about life. And that’s a good thing.
But sometimes, I wish that I wasn’t so cautious. Sometimes I wish I had the nerve to go skydiving or scuba diving for fun. From the outside looking in, those two hobbies look amazing. But I know I could never do those two things because I would be too busy analyzing the risks of the things that could go wrong. After all, it’s always better to play it safe, right?
While I may never try some of those extreme sports, there are some other fears that I have managed to overcome, to an extent. I still get the urge to scream when the object of my fear appears, but using certain methods I have been able to lessen the impact that these fears have on my life.
Ever since I was younger, I’ve always been terrified of speaking in front of my class. Seeing people’s eyes on me as I speak is a pretty terrifying experience. In fact, according to this Forbes article, public speaking is most people’s number one fear. That’s pretty crazy. But at the same time, it’s also pretty reassuring, because it means that I am not alone.
I still get the butterflies in my stomach moments before I have to talk to someone on video. But over the years the more I talk to people over video, the more comfortable I feel. I feel less scared. It almost feels as normal as talking to someone face to face. Even though this fear is still resides within me, I am able to push it to the back of my mind and do what I got to do. I am able to do this by taking a deep breath and telling myself that I can do it.
No, I was not scared of the drinking kind. I was scared of the chlorine kind that exists in the swimming pool. I was most especially scared of the water in the deep end, where my feet could not touch the pool bottom. I was afraid of floating in the deep end, unaided and helpless. I was also afraid of jumping in and not being able to swim to safety. This fear of the water was one reason why I struggled so much in learning how to swim.
It wasn’t until I finally lived somewhere that had a pool that I started to get more comfortable in the water. I went to that pool everyday to swim. The more I went to this pool, the more I was able to push this fear away until it was virtually nonexistent. Just facing this fear every day helped me to ultimately overcome it.
But there are some fears that you should never attempt to meet face to face.
One fear that you should probably not attempt to meet face to face is bees. I’ve always been scared of bees. This is probably my greatest fear. I am probably more scared of bees than I am of sharks or public speaking. I am not scared of what a bee looks like, but rather what it can do when provoked. I am scared of the possibility of getting stung. Just the thought of getting stung by a bee sends shivers to my spine. In fact, when I have to walk somewhere where there are bees, then I avoid that area or just take the long way. I refuse to walk near them.
But lately, I feel like this fear is abating somewhat. A long time ago, whenever I heard the buzz, buzz of a bee in my ear, my first instinct was to scream and run away. But now, I’ve been calmly just telling myself not to be scared. I’ve been telling myself that bees won’t hurt me if I don’t provoke them. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I’m going to don a bee keeper outfit and go examine a bee hive. I am not completely rid of this fear yet. But I am trying.
When I was a kid, I was terrified at the thought of driving. Just imagining myself in a moving vehicle traveling at 70 miles per hour was terrifying to say the least. I didn’t think that I would ever be able to drive. It looked like such a difficult feat. I marveled at how easily, seamlessly most people were able to drive.
When I finally learned how to drive in my early twenties, I was terrified. That first moment when I first sat behind the wheel to drive for the first time was absolutely scarring. And then afterward, there were plenty of moments when I just wanted to give up. The vehicle seemed like such a huge, scary beast. How could I, who was small and petite, ever be able to control something like that?
But, I found with time and persistence, I was able to learn how to drive. I just had to keep trying. I just had to remind myself that the vehicle is just a machine. I am in control of it. I also had to tell myself that the other cars wouldn’t hit me on purpose because it would mean a whole of insurance paperwork. And no one wants that.
Overall, I’ve managed to overcome these failures with time, persistence and even skill. The next time you are facing a fear, just remember that you are bigger than it. Just remember that you can and will overcome it. Fear is a subjective emotion that we create in our minds. We have the power to control it, just like we have the power to control other emotions like happiness and anger. By using certain mindful techniques, we can work to be less scared and live life to the fullest.
One way that I was able to overcome my fears is by repeating positive affirmations to myself. Stare the fear directly in its eyes and tell it that you are not afraid. Keep telling yourself that you aren’t afraid and that you can do anything you set your mind to. Because you can.
What techniques do you use to help you overcome your fears?