What is fear?
Fear is an emotion induced by a perceived threat which causes entities to quickly pull far away from it and usually hide. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of danger. In short, fear is the ability to recognize danger leading to an urge to confront it or flee from it (also known as the fight-or-flight response) but in extreme cases of fear (horror and terror) a freeze or paralysis response is possible. Fear should be distinguished from the emotion anxiety, which typically occurs without any certain or immediate external threat.
Fear is frequently related to the specific behaviors of escape and avoidance, whereas anxiety is the result of threats which are perceived to be uncontrollable or unavoidable. It is worth noting that fear almost always relates to future events, such as worsening of a situation, or continuation of a situation that is unacceptable. Fear can also be an instant reaction to something presently happening. All people have an instinctual response to potential danger, which is in fact important to the survival of all species. Fear can be a manipulating and controlling factor in an individual’s life.
I was reading an article sometime last week (see the link below) and it made me think: “How afraid am I?, How many things do I fear?, Can I say I’m less afraid than the average Joe/Jane?” Everyone has something to say when it comes to fear. Some say “be fearless”, some say “conquer your fear(s)” and others says “overcome fear”. The article talks about fearless not being what we should aim for so what, who, which is right?? So I decided to do a little introspection while also observing the ones around me. One definite answer (in my opinion) is that fear can be a push; the direction is yours to choose.
With a bit of research, we can safely say that fear seems to be a constant in our lives. We are afraid of other people, of animals (fauna in general), insects, heights, water, small/closed spaces, ghosts, demons, death, public speaking, failure, rejection, intimacy, loneliness, unknown, unpredictability, survival, losing (from people to possessions), success (yes there are people who are afraid of success, I’ll explain soon, keep reading), you name it. I am sure we can discover hundred of other fears but what I think all it comes down to is living. Living in fear. That must be tough. I admit there are things I am afraid of, and there were even more I used to be afraid of, but one day I decided I need to start living. Living with less and less fear.
It was February 2011, I was driving from Kitchener to Toronto. It was 8PM, dark, raining, snowing, windy and I was doing 110KM/h on the highway. I ran out of windshield fluid and because of snow and the smog from other cars, my windshield was getting dirty and I couldn’t see properly (my heat was on too so the windows were getting foggy). I got distracted for a second trying to figure out how I can clean my windshield and I start getting too close to the yellow line (I was driving in the far left late and the when you pass the yellow line the concrete is marked so you hear it – north Americans you know what I mean, I don’t know how you call that). Anyway needless to say I got scared as I a curve was approaching and I saw myself speeding closer to the concrete middle wall, so I pulled the steering wheel a bit too harsh and my car start sliding toward the right side. There were other cars around me so I tried to address the car but I must have hit black ice or something as the car just start sliding. I realized that no matter what I was doing wasn’t helping. I didn’t want to hit the concrete at that speed so I think (can’t remember) I hit the brakes. My car began spinning to the point that I could see the
Anyway needless to say I got scared as I a curve was approaching and I saw myself speeding closer to the concrete middle wall, so I pulled the steering wheel a bit too harsh and my car start sliding toward the right side. There were other cars around me so I tried to address the car but I must have hit black ice or something as the car just start sliding. I realized that no matter what I was doing wasn’t helping. I didn’t want to hit the concrete at that speed so I think (can’t remember) I hit the brakes. My car began spinning to the point that I could see the oncoming traffic full speed towards me. At that second I realized I will be dead. I pushed myself in the seat and held tight to the wheel. I couldn’t believe that would be it. 25 years old, miles away from my family, dying on the highway in the middle of the night.
No, my life didn’t flash in front of my eyes. Everything slowed down and was speeding up at the same time. There was nothing. No fear. Just one though: what do I have to account for myself? Couldn’t think of anything major. The second though was my mom, my family. Haven’t spoken with them in weeks, haven’t told them I love them in a while and they will probably won’t know what happened to me for a long time (they live in Europe). In that moment I hit the right side of the highway with my left side of the car (I was still facing oncoming traffic). As there was a lot of snow on the side and because of the speed ( I assume) my car flipped over in the ditch. I landed on the wheels still facing oncoming traffic. The ditch was big, 2 or 3 times by height ( at the timed seems like 5 times more). A truck driver saw me disappear off the highway so luckily he stopped and came to help me. After I realized the car stopped moving I looked around and all I could see was white. I looked in from of me and I saw my hands still holding the steering wheel. I let go and touched my head. Nothing hurt. I couldn’t see any blood. I opened the door and slowly got off the chair (the door wouldn’t open to much because of the narrow space of the ditch). I was standing on my own two feet. The driver asked me if I was OK and after I was able to say a very quiet “yes”, I instantly start crying. He advised we call the cops, or 911 but I couldn’t find my phone (everything flew out of my purse all over the car). He offered to call for me and to call a family member (now I start crying even harder). I said I have no one here so I asked him to call my boyfriend at the time. I needed his number. Tricky question as in that moment I could not remember any phone number. Except for mine (it took me a few seconds to get that one right too). He called my phone which helped me find it in between the seats and used it to call my boyfriend.
Now long story short, that day I realized how much I give in to my fears and how they affect my life. Maybe if I hadn’t panicked I may have been able to control the car better (yes guys, I am a woman and I will never say I am a great driver but fear made things worse). Well as you can tell I survived and I get to blab here but all jokes aside, I will never forget that night. I didn’t even have a scratch. Not a scratch but boy did I change. I got back on the wheel 2 days after, yes I told my family how much I love them (didn’t tell them right away where this sudden “expression of love” came from), and I also decided that from that moment forward I will not let fear control me anymore (or at least not as much).
Fear is powerful, it can help us push our boundaries, helps us get motivated in overcoming it but it is also dangerous and if we are not careful it will run and ruin our lives. I had to overcome my fear of public speaking (my head still burns up before any presentation in from of a large group but I will still do it), I overcome my fear of asking and being rejected, I push through even when my fear of failure arises, I overcome my fear of loneliness and I am working every day of overcoming many more. Take a moment and see how many times you give into you fear in a day: afraid of being late, of losing someone, of losing your job, of speaking up, of asking, or being rejected and so on. We have only one life and a big part we spend it worrying and being afraid. I was shocked but it seems there are people out there afraid of success and subconsciously sabotage themselves ( how crazy is that). Like I said it before in my previous post, your thoughts create your reality. What reality are you living in?
I know fear is very real in our mind and it can impact your life in a very serious way but I believe that with strength and motivation you can overcome a lot. I am afraid of heights and most likely that is because I am afraid of dying yet I still go on rollercoasters. Those 5 seconds spend on the “drop zone” are the most terrifying seconds of my life but I still do it, every now and then. Same feeling with very high roller coasters, but I push through (or my friends challenge me and I don’t want to lose or look like a chicken in from the 10-year-olds in the line). After my divorce (that story another time or check my about page) I was always concerned with being alone, or feeling like I failed (myself and my family) or that I will not have a family. It took me over two years to overcome that but I am happy to report I did it. I am happy with the decisions I have made as they helped me discover myself and helped me become stronger and more independent. I am still working on fear every single day and I am victorious bit by bit every single day.
So have faith, be strong and use fear to become powerful and to achieve the things you want. Every time I am afraid or feel a fear kicking in, I remind myself that I am in control and not my fear. Fear has this amazing way of making us a little paranoid and to see the worst possible outcome. But that is only one result. You have the power. Future is not created yet, future can be anything you want it so just don’t let fear get in the way. If someone tells me they can predict my future I say bull$^%#. Life is not a straight line. You have an infinite supply of choices. Choose the one who will give you the outcome you want. Or at least close to that. And if your choice didn’t give you the outcome you wanted then change it. Act again, chose again. So I agree with the article in Addicted2Success, you don’t need to be fearless, you just have to learn from your fear, just be aware of it, stare it in the face then defy it! Oh, it will feel so good, so gratifying.
You are the master of your Universe
I love that saying. It motivates me to keep on living and to realize that I am on the planet for a reason. I have a purpose and I will not let fear take me down. And you shouldn’t either. Stay strong! I believe we can all succeed in anything we want. And if you feel like talking or you just want to connect or need an ear to listen to you, feel free to contact me. I am here to help in any way I can as much as I can. Stay strong my friends and good luck in your match with fear. I am convinced you can be the champion. You can do it!
Inspired by: Fear and Success