Thursday, August 15, 2013

Building Courage

We all fear something.  For many, it's the judgment of others.  For some, it's being found unattractive or unintelligent.  For a few, there are phobias about spiders or germs.

It's important to be courageous in life; otherwise, we miss opportunities for joy.  The good news is, no matter where we start out, we can build more courage than we have.  Maybe you won't be jumping out of an airplane but you can be stronger tomorrow than you were today.

I've learned two important facts in life.  First, feeling fear is not a reason to refrain from action.  Fear is natural; it's nature's way of making us cautious about danger.  You can feel fear and *still* move forward.  Acknowledge fear and push past it.  Go ahead with your plan even while experiencing anxiety.  Once you do this, you learn it's possible to survive fear and you can engage in future acts of bravery.

Second, take small steps.  If you worry about public speaking, talk to just one or two friends, not a big crowd of strangers.  Work your way up to bigger challenges.  Psychologists call this "behavior modification" and it works.  We can achieve small victories which train us to have confidence to tackle bigger ones.

Are you fearful?  About what?  Have you found ways to overcome anxiety?

25 comments:

  1. Ally ~ excellent post! I used to feel anxiety about new situations or trying new things particularly when I was younger. I have learned to step well out if my comfort zone in the last couple f years and it only took until my mid forties to figure out it doesn't matter to anyone but me if I succeed or fail at something AND no else's opinion of me or what I am doing matters. That has been a big step for me and I think it has only changed as I am finding joy in new things and an inner courage that I didn't know I possessed. You are inspiring Ally!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm fearful of some things - perhaps even many - but (humbly) incredibly courageous in the face of others. I'm a scrapbooker and actually made a page about 2.5 years that included two columns: one for things I wasn't afraid of (that are common fears for many) and another that listed some of the things that frighten me to my core. In the middle of the two columns I cut out a photograph of myself as a toddler in a ghost Halloween costume (to represent the concept of something spooky/fear). Though the look of the page deviated a bit from my typical style, looking back on it, it stands out as one of my favourite pages about myself to date, because it such an excellent snapshot of who I am at my most vulnerable and at my strongest.

    ♥ Jessica

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a terrific pictorial representation of your psyche.

      Delete
  3. I'm actually quite fearful of many things but have found if I just make myself do something I can usually survive it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Tiny steps. Phobias are so uncomfortable. I'm personally afraid of stairs. It way cound silly but I really do. I even know special word - klimakophobie for it. I've visited a doctor for it but doesn't really helping. For me falling down the stiar was too painful as doctor said. It was not about about hurting back and medical issues, it's about dreams ruined due to fall. What I do to live with it and lesser a chance of panic attack if elevator is not working? I do use stairs every day. A floor or two, or even the whole 4 but I just have to. It doesn't help though if I'm having nightmares (endless stairs everywhere, falling from them etc) or had a panic attack not long before. What is important about your fears is sometimes don't push too hard and let your fear be happy, it helps to relax esp if you're facing your fear every single day

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good advice. Thanks for sharing, Lyosha. I wish you the best.

      Delete
  5. I fear of humans :/ And I have came to a conclusion that humans really are something to fear of. I don't really fear that they would physically attack me or something (even tho that has happened before), but I fear of the "rules" they set, the standards.. Of course, I believe there should be law and moral but I don't understand why society is so intolerant for those who are "different" yet harmless and want to slay them down. And yes, this is actual fear and phobia, not just rebelling or complaining.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe you. I remind myself that other people have no more authority than I do to create rules for governing the rest of us. Thus, I don't have to respect their rules/opinions if they differ from my own. There are a lot of bad ideas out there; we should stick to our own beliefs.

      Delete
    2. Yes you're right. We are actually lucky to live in places where you are allowed free speech and to be who we want to.. from my country there's not so long distance to somewhere where you would "disappear" for one wrong word ;0

      Delete
  6. We are (shhh, don't tell anyone -- she says on the internet) in the process of buying a house. Fear keeps me up at night. Fear makes it hard to make that call to the real estate agent to set up appointments. Fear makes it hard to go into the house that you have so many expectations about, based on the scant information in the listings. "Is this the house we will raise our kids in? Will we have to sacrifice a proper building inspection in order to avoid a bidding war? Can we afford to do this?" Sadly, baby steps aren't really an option in this market, but I have found it much easier knowing that our mortgage will have a 5 year term, and 5 years is really a baby step in comparison to forever!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll keep your secret. :)

      Actually, this is a BIG life-change that one would always be nervous about. But after you go through it once, you feel much more confident about future purchases.

      Delete
  7. Ok I love that you used a picture of rock-climbing to illustrate fear!! Rock-climbing is one of the things I do to push myself--I'm not a big fan of heights, and scaling an 80-to-100-foot wall is a great way to face that fear. Other fears, like my huge phobia of spiders/insects, are more difficult to tackle.

    I've learned to outgrow my fear of solitude and rejection, purely from having to face both on multiple occasions. And conquering those fears have made me a more confident person!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I believe we all have faced fear in some way shape or form. I am a private peron and also used to be painfully shy, and even though I am not one to be the "tell al of my business" type of people, I have come a long way. Now, hold conference meetings for my work and such. I would have never thought that! Public speaking is definitely a skill though. We do triumph in small ways as well as we grow and face our fears. :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Beautiful post! I really enjoyed reading this! :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I fear loss of control. I fear loss of memory (agnosia, dementia, apraxia). Those are my greatest fears.

    The everyday ones include facing ridicule, my friends turning on me, entering into impossible to escape situations.

    What overcomes my anxiety? Drugs. Citalopram and Alprazolam. I did therapy for nearly a year until actual panic attacks destroyed me for a continuous 48 hours. I couldn't sleep or breathe. I was terrified, and every panic attack sent me into another because I wound up afraid I'd have another one. Fearing fear.

    Finally, I can feel "normal". I can still work myself into a panic attack. The old fears are still there. But the physical responses, twisting of my stomach, flight response, clammy hands are diminished. I can approach people, order food, make some phone calls. I've even managed to go to multiple needed doctor visits, though recently I nearly blacked out from fear after one, I still managed to go and get the necessary visit over with.

    Fear is an old friend of the anxious, and I've been anxious for so very long. I never wanted to be on medication, but I really don't want to go back to feeling the way I used to. So I suck it up, and take my doses.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I unfortunately don't recognize my true phobias on a psychologically conscious level and they sneak up on me. For example, I don't think I'm afraid of hospitals, there's nothing about them I find disturbing, but I inevitably have a sort of panic attack (like there's a pressure on my chest and I get lightheaded) when visiting persons there. (I have no idea what would happen if I ever had to be checked into hospital myself... maybe I'd just be too sick to freak out.)

    I do have issues with going outside of my comfort zone, and I think that's definitely what you're discussing here. But I believe recognizing your limits and not pushing yourself too hard is also important (Deluding myself into believing I could be a social butterfly has pushed me to mental breaking points before). Like you said, small steps.

    (I love your blog... you always make me think!)

    ReplyDelete
  12. See, you could be a life coach too, Ally. :) This is a really nice, thoughtful post. I have to push past my fear every day to move closer to my goals. It's gotten easier since I've noticed that my fear will be there whether I do the thing or not, so I might as well do it.

    ReplyDelete
  13. nice blog dear! wanna follow each other? :)

    http://choccopost.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  14. Very timely post for me. I just got back from Yellowstone, where my husband wanted to go for a hike to look for a hidden treasure. Yes, honest. I'll write about it on my next post, or you can google Forrest Fenn.

    I was scared to death about bears because we were in an area known for grizzlies. But we carried bear spray and a bell and made a lot of noise ("99 bottle of beer on the wall" all the way down). We're aching and sore, but we never saw a bear, and I'm glad I went. When we got back we read about two bear attacks that same day within 50 miles of where we were. I feel very lucky!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, Val. That was scary. Bears are big creatures. Glad you're safe.

      Delete
  15. "feeling fear is not a reason to refrain from action"

    Thank you. I needed to hear that today. Sometimes we need reminding of these things.

    ReplyDelete
  16. This is a very helpful and relevant post to me. In fact I just posted about some of my experiences in my latest blog post. As a long term sufferer of major anxiety, I've experienced most types of fears and sensations of panic. For so many years absolutely nothing would make me feel better but for the first time ever I feel like I am getting somewhere. I definitely agree about small steps being a significant help. Up until a couple of months ago I used to experience panic attacks on buses but now I work full time in the city and spend 2 hours a day on buses, there was no other way I could have done it without preparation and small steps. I used to get really angry when people would tell me to step outside my comfort zone and try new things. I used to think no one understood me. But now I feel differently. All these techniques to overcome anxiety can work, over time, if one wants it enough and is willing to try. That's the difference.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Awesome question ally--I fear heights somewhat but still will go on high things.
    I used to fear talking in front of crowds. Teaching at a technical college where my students were mostly 18-20 young men got me over that pretty quickly.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Pretty much every time I have a fear (at least the irrational kind) I confront it and try to put myself right in the midst of what is scary to me. I see it as a challenge to progress.
    -Jamie
    ChatterBlossom

    ReplyDelete
  19. my blog was a fearful journey...the first post, the first outfit post, the first video. i was afraid of each milestone, fearful of what people would think or how they would react. baby steps got me to where my blog is today.

    oh, and i have a phobia of holes. trypophobia. eek, my skin is crawling just typing the word.

    [oomph.]
    $150 Kohl's Giveaway!

    ReplyDelete