Author Jason Jack, what do you think about 'fear'?
Fear is a choice.
If you take anything away from watching Will and Jaden Smith's sci-fic epic, After Earth, it is this.
But is it true? To some extent, I'd say yes. Fear often feels like a reaction, an uncontrollable response to an outside stimuli as opposed to a conscious decision to be afraid. For example, you see a dog. The dog starts barking, growling, then runs at you. You are afraid not by choice but because the situation demands it from you. And, perhaps, your fear is the one thing that's going to keep you from freezing in that moment. You reactive fear will make you turn around and run.
But the film makes a distinction between fear and threats. Threats are real, fear is not. With this in mind, the dog is the threat and the fear is your own creation. And if we follow this train of thought a tad more, we'd find that perhaps we can control our fears.
And I think it's important to control those fears that immobilize us. How do we go about doing this, then?
Simple: Education and experience. The two 'Es'. The easiest way to dissolve fear is to educate yourself of what you fear and/or experience it for yourself. The latter is often not the best way to overcome extreme fear (of death, war, famine, etc.) in ones life, but it can help in certain instances. Let's put the two Es into action.
Example 1, Education:
Marsha Williams is afraid of guns for no other reasons than they can be used to kill you. No one has told her to be afraid, and not everyone is afraid of guns. She has created the fear in her own mind, thus she has the ability to control it. one day, she goes into a sporting store and almost has an anxiety fit just passing by the hunting section filled with rifles. And in this moment she realizes she has let her fear become debilitating. That day, she chooses to control her fear. To get rid of it.
She scours the internet for information on guns, watches YouTube videos, reads pro and cons of gun ownership, goes to the library and checks out gun manuals and pricing guides, and eventually visits to a local gun shop. When she's ready, she takes her oldest son to the shooting range and gets a chance to feel the gun firing in her hand, gets used to the weight of it. Overtime, she starts feeling at ease and going to the shooting range with her son becomes a realizing, bonding event. The duo of mother and offspring even take a self defense class to learn how to disarm a gun from someone else.
Through a thorough self education process, she has been put at ease. Fear was choice she decided not to take.
And when the stranger on the street asked her for her wallet, brandishing a gun, she was not immobilized by fear by the sight of the pistol. No. She simply used the knowledge she had and disarmed the man without further incident.
Example 2, Experience:
For less extreme, simpler fears this is the easiest way to overcome what scares you. If you are afraid of driving and all the education in the world is not calming you, go driving in a controlled environment with an experienced driver. And not just once. Stay in that controlled environment for months if you have to until you feel calm. Until you understand the vehicle, its limits, and what it does. For those who are afraid of rain, step out side the next time it showers. Just go out on the porch and watch it. Take baby steps. Place a finger underneath the showers, then a toe. When you're ready, place a hand out and eventually your entire body and choose not to fear the water from above.
The Third Way to Control Fear, The Most Powerful?
The most powerful way to choose not to fear is to notice that you are afraid and to simply stop. Yes. Just stop. Understand that your fear is irrational and perhaps detrimental to your well being and just stop. Our minds are powerful enough to do it, to change on a whim with conscious effort and repeat performance. Years ago, I realized I would bite my nails. Not a fear, sure, but a habit I wanted to choose to stop doing. I was educated by why I should use nail cutters instead and then I made it a point never to bite my nails again. The impulse was there, at first, but whenever I felt the need to bite, I told myself not to. The same can be done with fears.
So . . .
Whenever I'm afraid I might fail, I remind myself the fear is in my head. I'm not really failing as long as I'm trying, learning, doing. And neither are any of you. We must tell ourselves to stop, explain to our inner selves we can think more positively. We don't have to fear. We don't have to let things scare us, and as long as we strive to be rational, better versions of ourselves from the moment we wake up to the moment we rest, we can control our thoughts. We can control our fears.
Because, fear is a choice. And we will not choose to fear.
Until next time.
--Author Jason Jack