Fear is something that most of us have felt at one time or another. That feeling of being threatened, when you feel as though your current state is in jeopardy. It’s an instinctive reflex to flee or fight the threat. This instinct has been with us since our earliest moments on earth. Fear can be seen as a driver, too: that force that pushes us into making changes and responding to a stressful situation. The key is how we use fear: Whether we allow it to rule over us or choose instead to harness its power for the good purpose of fueling change in ourselves and others around us!
I have learned through life to face my fears head-on. At this point in my life, I tell myself, “Really, what’s the worst that could happen?” I say this because many not-so-pleasant things have already happened in my life, but even though they were at times depressingly challenging, it didn’t kill me. The fact is if you don’t face that fear, or challenging situation, a problem that could have had a relatively easy fix becomes more and more complicated.
Fear is also your body’s way of telling you that you need to change. The same way that pain is your body’s response to an uncomfortable situation, and it warns you of impending trouble that likely needs to be addressed. Fear is a necessary survival tool. Think of fear as being the sixth sense. Fear tells you that something bad might potentially happen. Fear is telling you that you need to make a change and pivot, or start to brace yourself for a particularly challenging situation.
Fear helps prime your body mentally and physically for better opportunities in life; as we know, good things rarely come easy. Fear can be a good thing because it is our body’s way of telling us that we might need to change something. In the end, fear is just an emotion, and not all emotions are bad. Fear pushes you into doing more things in life, which makes for a richer experience overall.
So what should you do when faced with fear? You can learn to see it as a blessing in disguise—a chance to step into your greatness. So, now, let me ask: What are you now afraid of?
Tomi Mitchell is a family physician.
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