Only When We Are No Longer Afraid Do We Begin To Live

“Yo! Dave, did you get a date with Courtney for the banquet?” Dave's eyes focused on his Nikes shoes as he answered James's question. “Ummm. I decided I don't really want to go.”

James gasped in disbelief. “What?! You don't want to go? You got to be kidding me? We've been excited about this banquet for months. What was her answer? She’s going with someone else or what?” Dave went for the school door, shaking his head. “Nah, I never asked her.”

James's eyes widened and he went after Dave down the hall after. “What? I can’t believe you! You never asked her? Dave! You chickened out! Admit it, come on! — you're just scared she won’t accept your invitation.”

Dave faced James, his face fuming red. “Hey! Why don't you mind your own business?” he said angrily, and walked to the school’s parking area.

For Dave, the truth hurts – a lot! Asking a girl, any girl, out for a date was about the intimidating thing Dave could ever imagine doing. Asking Courtney was out of the question. What if she said “No” to his invitation? Even scarier, what if she laughed and told her all friends? And what if they all laughed at him? He was he not going to risk succumbing to all that humiliation - no way! It was much simpler to fake he did not want to go to the banquet.

If only Dave could read her thoughts, Courtney was also scared. Scared no one would invite her as a date to the school banquet. Scared some weird guy would ask her. Scared she'd spill her drink once she got there.


It's a basic emotion that influences all people at every age level in every culture everywhere. Naturally, fear is not the same for every person. Depending on the situation and past experiences, each person's fears are uniquely his own.

Intense fear may transform into a phobia (a constant, irrational, extreme fear), disturbing an individual's life and often times psychiatric treatment may be required.

For everyone, fear is that eminent feeling of uneasiness that appear when we encounter a new situation or one in which we have failed before.

Comments from psychologists regarding fear is that we truly fear losing control that the cause of almost all fear is a perception that we cannot manage the situation. We picture in our mind what could possibly happen, and even though it may never occur, the fear in our brain unleashes symptoms.

Common reactions to anxiety are rapid pulse, chest pain, pale or flushed skin, blurred vision, cramps, dry mouth, trembling hands, dizziness, nausea, , headache, — all these and more.

A few fears are typical, such as a fear of heights or enclosed places, fear of rodents, or snakes. But when fear starts to disturb your way of living, to disrupt your development and growth, it is time to analyze and confront it.

Don't Be Afraid of Fear

To some extent, growth depends on fear. These two go hand in hand. Famous inventors, explorers and scientists, often disclose that even while they were making world-changing contribution, all of them experienced fear.

Countless big discoveries have come by facing fear - fear of failure, fear of death, fear of public opinion - and pushing through to success.

This tactic is also effective in everyday life. When we distinguish fear as a normal human emotion, learn to experience the panic, confront it, and push through anyway, we grow wiser and stronger.

Psychologists made a list of steps for facing fear. Following these steps will help confront this feeling and understanding the psychology of fear. Once you know what's happening to your mind and body, you will be in a better position to erase the negative reactions.

Taming Your Fear

  • Be open and willing to work with others who can help your problem with fear.
  • Determine and admit your fear. You can't deal with the problem if you think you don't have one!
  • Practice confronting the situation that starts your fear.
  • Anticipate for the panic that accompanies fear, and learn to tolerate the distress until it subsides.
  • Be prepared to try to overcome it.
  • Support your achievements by repetition, and remind yourself of your progress.
  • If you arrive in a point where you feel no progress is being made, do not give up. Hang in there and wait for the breakthrough.

Fear Fighters

  • Have time for inspirational tapes, books, and magazines.
  • Make encouraging notes to yourself on index cards and tuck them in your lunch bag, briefcase, or pocket.
  • Hang helpful posters, positive quotations, slogans, and in highly visible spots.
  • Read magazines, books and articles on overcoming fear and on positive thinking.

Pushing the Panic Button

Anxiety is triggered by fear of the panic itself. You may experience that panicky sensation will hurt you physically or that it won't go away unless you escape the scene or that it will cause a mental breakdown or make you behave embarrassingly. All of these are not true. Whether or not you do anything at all, the panic lasts only a short period of time. Just knowing that may help you get through it.

Just think of something else during that brief period of panic. Concentrate on mentally reciting numbers or the alphabet backward; or observe every detail of a nearby object; or silently list states, former presidents, books of the Bible.

You can even try snapping a rubber band or bouncing a super ball against the wall — anything that requires you to concentrate on something other than your fear.

Although these methods may be effective during the instance of panic, there are others that can help before or after. Picturing in your mind the worst-case scenario is one. Imagine the worst thing that could happen and then plan what you would do in that situation. What actually occurs will be a lot less serious than the situation you have built up in your mind.

Even if you cannot conquer a fear the first time you try, the most important thing is that at least you tried! You will do better next time.

Break tasks you are afraid of into small pieces. If only Dave had rehearsed in his room by himself asking Courtney for a date, or if he had managed to just talk to her at her locker a couple of times, he probably would have acquired enough courage to ask her for a date.

If you are afraid about public speaking, try giving it aloud when you are in your room alone. Then give it to a friend close to you. Then gradually, to a few friends in an empty auditorium. If you are very nervous, just standing behind the podium in an empty auditorium may help you get used to it.

Time to Get Angry

Establish a master plan for regularly facing your fear until you can conquer it. Accumulated successes — even little ones — lead to confidence.

Get angry if you have to. The I'll-do-it-if-it-kills-me attitude has conquered many fears.

Open up to a friend or become a member of a support group. Creating progress reports to others and getting encouragement from them provide motivation. Don't be too hard on yourself, but don't fool yourself, either. Be practical about your goals. Just as fears aren't created overnight, they aren't cured instantly, either. Lastly, don't blame anyone else for your fears. You control your life. You decide how to act or react. On the other hand, don't blame yourself for having fears. Just determine them and set out to do away with them one at a time.

As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face… You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

Self-Help | Psychology

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