Fear is an important emotion that influences almost every area of our lives and has helped keep us alive throughout the history of humankind. However, most of the situations that caused us to fear in ancient times are not valid anymore in today’s world, so, up to what extent can we let fear influence our decisions?
It was certainly appropriate for our ancestors to be afraid of bandits with swords or being sieged in a castle without food and exposed to a myriad of untreatable diseases, but that same fear that kept us alive during those times is hindering our ability to adapt and overcome some situations that shouldn’t stop us from growing as humans.
Today’s fears are more often than not based on psychology than on physical threats. Thus, being able to face your fears will not only have a positive impact on your performance but in your state of mind as well. A brain-dead simple way to look at it is that once you face a fear, you’re not going to be scared anymore. However, there are so many other benefits that you could be taking advantage of.
Certain common situations like applying for a new job require us to overcome fears. Most people are able to do this and keep going with their lives, however, for some others, even something as simple and necessary as getting a job can lead to such an overwhelming sensation of fear that it cripples their ability to think and act.
Conquering your fears can be very tough, but it is far from impossible. With practice and emotional control, you’ll find it easier to navigate through terrifying situations and cope with the feelings of discouragement.
If you have ever been in a situation in which fear is holding you back you’ve probably asked yourself how to face your fears. Once you understand the benefits of facing one’s fear, you’ll find it easier to start taking action. This will probably be the most influential advice you’ll get.
As Mark Twain said:
“I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”
Once you’re able to define your fears and separate fact from fiction, you’ll start identifying which fears are valid and which ones are just a mental worst-case scenario, which is something that will probably never happen in reality.
Benefits Of Facing Fear
Fear usually occurs when we think something might happen. That anticipation, the uncertainty of the future, is one of the biggest sources of fear, but believing that it might happen is very different from it actually happening. Knowing this, you can quickly identify what is well-founded and what is probably an exaggerated product of your imagination.
Once you have identified that, you can start working on your own plan to whether prevent it from happening or to mitigate damages. Having an emergency plan will, therefore, lead you to act in a much more appropriate manner, saving yourself from other complications that usually come from not being able to properly handle situations.
It’s like knowing what to do in case of a fire or an earthquake, you might not prevent it from happening but at least you know how to act if it does. Taking such actions against some of your valid fears will help you become a more resourceful person and keep your head cool when dealing with stressful situations.
Resilience and Neuroplasticity
There’s a saying that life does not become easier, but we become stronger and more resilient. Every time you are able to face a fear, no matter how small or insignificant it might appear, you become more resilient, something that ultimately allows you to transform into a bigger and more developed person. At the same time, the more you grow, the more you understand how you can change your own brain and empower yourself.
Both resilience and neuroplasticity are like tools that allow us to change the way we think, act, and withstand that which could otherwise harm us. Author Catherine Pittman explains this in the book Rewire Your Anxious Brain: How to Use the Neuroscience of Fear to End Anxiety, Panic, and Worry.
Over time, our brain learns that certain situations are not necessarily something we should be afraid of. By provoking and challenging fear, we can trick our minds into realizing that we’re not really in danger. It’s almost like working out to build muscle—In order for the body to gain more muscle it must first break down its fibers.
No matter where you are in life, fear will always find a way in. This basic human emotion is unavoidable, after all. But that is not necessarily something negative, there is wisdom that comes from the process of working through your fears. It is true that the fearful and hurtful experiences teach us some of the greatest lessons in life, thus, developing this important quality is extremely important.
In the long run, wisdom will influence how we behave in certain situations, and how we relate and connect with those around us and those that have experienced the same. Problem-solving skills, compassion, sympathy and self-understanding are just some of the benefits of being able to face fear. An important trait if you plan to achieve any level of success and fulfillment in your life.
Fears are often a product of our imagination. More often than not we’re afraid of that which “could” happen instead of what actually happens. Although in an ideal and fantastic world nobody should have to feel fear, it is embedded in our nature, and learning how to face it to become better persons is as important as necessary to grow.
Learn how to face your fears, practice, and you’ll see how easy you’ll get a new and improved mindset.