Do you remember your childhood monster? Perhaps it hid in your closet at night, or under your bed. Do you remember how it would lurk, in your head? Waiting to snatch you away.
My monster was tall, with long, spindly arms that would reach from under the bed. It could grab anything that was out of the covers, so I had to lay perfectly still at night to escape its grasp.
That monster was Fear, and it has stayed with us into adulthood, no longer taking on the shapes that an active imagination can give the shadows on the wall.
Fear is a negative force in our lives, leading to negative behaviors and thoughts like paralysis, stress, and even depression. Fear encourages bullying and isolation.
Fear also has no conscience. It exploits an intimate knowledge of what makes you tick to sustain itself, breeding more fear, and perpetuating negative cycles. When it is found, it makes excuses, pushes off blame, and wriggles back into the deepest recesses of your mind.
Further, conquering one’s can lead to greater success, confidence, and contentment in one’s life.
So how can we handle this fear, if not get rid of it completely?
Firstly, we must recognize in any given situation whether we are acting out of fear. Perhaps you catch yourself fiddling with the screen settings on your phone, or perhaps, like me, looking up the next pen you want to treat yourself to, when you really should be finishing up a presentation that is due tomorrow morning. Recognizing that we are engaging in a problem-solving technique that is based on avoidance rather than fixing the problem will allow us to adjust our behavior.
Next, we must identify the root cause of the problem. Perhaps you are procrastinating because you fear that the group your presentation is for will not be impressed by your skills, and the whole endeavor will flop.
Now, we know that we have a problem (fear of failing to impress), and that we are dealing with it incorrectly (avoidance). We will be able to, from here on, make a conscious effort to change the way we are reacting to the fear. By actively looking for a way to deal with the problem, rather than just avoiding it, we can affect positive change in our lives.
Normally, as a child, shining light on the dark was enough to beat back the terrors of the night. The fears and anxieties of adulthood, unfortunately, are much more resilient. They are much more subtle. So, our tools for dealing with them must also become better, more fundamental to our being. Fostering self-awareness and self-reflection provides us with these tools, and helps us strive for success in both our personal and professional lives.