Embrace Your Fear— it's the best way to recover and live your best life

By Sean Fogler 05/22/18
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“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Nelson Mandela

I always believed, “I was afraid of nothing”. The real truth, was that I was afraid of everything!

Being arrested on drug charges, resigning from my job as a physician, and having the state medical board and drug enforcement agency visit my home— taught me everything I wanted to know about fear and more.

I sacrificed it all. Family, friends, profession, reputation, and myself — all in the name of fear — and my addiction.

Fear really is a liar, an imposter, a master manipulator, and the ultimate gaslighter.

My fears controlled me and they probably control you.

They shaped my behavior, made my decisions, and took me to some very dark places.

If I really knew the power my fears had over me I would have learned to face them a long time ago. Unfortunately, I didn’t.

LEARNING TO FACE OUR FEARS PUTS US ON THE RIGHT PATH

What I never realized was that getting comfortable with fear and facing it was the best way to manage it and one of the best ways to grow.

Looking back, if only I could have found the courage to face my fears, my life today would look very different.

Real fears do exist, but mostly they are creations of our own mind that keep us running, frozen, and lashing out at the world; constantly fighting with ourselves.

When we deny fear and hide from it we give it power and we stop living, making ourselves a slave to that fear.

We believe we can outsmart our fear; a story we tell ourselves.

The truth is that our fear is always there, living, breathing, and growing. In time that fear becomes the hunter. It waits patiently for us to trip or fall and then it attacks.

When fear consumes us it’s scary. And it takes us to a place where we are overwhelmed with feelings of loss and pain.

The irony is that when we get to this place life is just beginning. Because just beyond is where we see the truth, find our authentic self, and grow in amazing ways.

The enemy really is within and it is real— but we need to embrace this enemy and show it love and compassion if we want to thrive.

FEAR CREATES THOUGHTS AND IDEAS IN OUR HEADS THAT ARE DISCONNECTED FROM REALITY

The things we fear are not the things themselves but the thoughts and feelings that we connect to them.

When I stand in front of a large group and begin to speak, is it the act of speaking that causes me anxiety? Probably not. It’s really my thoughts that cause me to feel afraid.

As the words leave my lips my mind begins to race and thoughts swirl wildly in my head.

Will I say something witty, smart, and meaningful?

Will I say something stupid, useless, or worse?

Will I be judged, labelled, shamed or made to feel small, confirming my own negative beliefs about myself?

These are my fears, very real but unreal— and borderline insane.

The truth is that everyone feels this way. We are not special. We are all the same and share many of the same thoughts, feelings and fears.

We believe we are alone, but we’re not. We separate ourselves thinking we are uniquely awful, flawed, and damaged. The reality is that we are human, perfectly imperfect beings just doing our best.

FACING OUR FEARS HAS SO MANY AMAZING BENEFITS

Not facing my fears almost destroyed my life. Learning to face those fears has given me a beautiful life.

Some of the amazing things that happen when we face our fears are:

•We get to know ourselves (how we really think and feel about things)
•We gain strength of character and become resilient
•We become courageous (the more we face our fears the easier it gets)
•We gain wisdom having lived through challenging times
•We see and appreciate things from different perspectives
•We adopt a growth mindset and see new opportunities
•We gain an increased awareness of ourselves and the world around us
•We have greater focus (mindfulness)
•We gain the ability to break through barriers that once seemed impossible
•We develop grit (passion and persistence) in all that we do
•We become more patient and compassionate having overcome our own challenges

Facing our fears is the road to incredible personal growth and positive change. And when we change the world around us changes, revealing all of its meaning and beauty.

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