Dealing with fear and anxiety can be very overwhelming. It’s scary and we can become consumed by it.
For a long time, I was completely consumed by my fears and worries. It was preventing me from doing so much in my life.
As a quick background, I had two main fears that were holding me back in life were:
- fear of germs/sickness/death
- fear of rejection/social anxiety
The fear of germs got so out of hand, that sometimes I couldn’t go into my kitchen for weeks at a time if I thought there was a possible contaminant.
Or I would research obsessively about whatever disease it was for hours straight or even days. I would wash my hands 100 times a day and clean things multiple times.
Needless to say, that was causing me to miss out on a lot of stuff. I couldn’t have an average day without being completely strung out.
It also caused me to be alienated from people and unable to have a real connection with them because I was too stressed.
My fear of rejection/social anxiety was also holding me back, but not in such an extreme way. It mainly just prevented me from being fully myself and meeting people easily.
I bet you are probably aware of a few fears that might be holding you back in your life.
You actually might not even be aware of the degree to which they are holding you back. Fears have a subtle way of controlling every area of your life, that might even seem unrelated to your fear.
I want to share my story with you now give you some ideas and inspiration to face your own fears, because I’m super proud to say that I no longer have either of those fears!
Just want to let ya know: The information and tips on this website are from my personal experience with anxiety and are not a substitute for any type of medical, psychological or health advice. My goal is to empower people struggling with anxiety in non-traditional ways that they can do alongside professional help.
There is always help out there, and you can find a mental health professional locally, through your doctor, or through an online directory like this one. This is a link to a great article with affordable therapy options and this is an affiliate link to a great online therapy option. If you are in a crisis, there’s a list of help hotlines here. You are not alone!!
Now how did I do this and how can it apply to you?
Well, no matter what your fear is, the real fear deep down is a fear of uncertainty. That’s really all it is.
So the steps that I took to overcome my fears are all focused on dealing with the uncertainty of our fears.
So the first step in overcoming fears is:
Once you understand your fear a bit better, it will be so much less scary and you can eliminate a lot of the uncertainty.
With my fear of germs, I educated myself on the way a lot of the diseases worked and found that I was actually not at risk for any them!!
Pretty insane, right? Sometimes our fears are literally not even real possibilities!!
With my fear of rejection, I educated myself on people. I was always so afraid of people not liking me, but really, most people have that fear (to some degree), so all you really need to do is make people feel good about themselves and accepted.
However, with both of those things, and with any fear, there is always that slight chance of it coming true.
If you believe that there is always a chance, then that’s when the anxiety can take over.
This is where you have to learn to:
Accept uncertainty and the uncontrollable
For my particular case with my fear of germs, and let’s face it, obsessive and compulsive tendencies, I was trying to control everything.
There was always a small chance of getting sick, so I would take every precaution I could think of to avoid it. But that’s CRAZY!
There are SO many factors that can contribute to sickness, most of which are not in one’s own control.
As for the fear of rejection, I tried to avoid saying anything that someone could perceive as “uncool”. But then I ended up totally censoring myself and not letting my true personality come through.
I was basically trying to control what people thought, but I do not have mind control powers, so that was a futile effort. Not worth it!
So both of these realizations showed me that there are some things that you just can’t control. And really, you just have to accept it.
For me, I tried to control everything. For others, they try to avoid their fears. Which is a form of controlling them, because they are trying to ensure that nothing bad will happen.
So yes, you can take every precaution to ensure nothing bad will happen, but you will totally miss out on life!
But, it can be difficult to accept that your feared situations might happen, but you just need to have a little faith. And not faith in god or anything like that (you can if you want to though), but just have faith/hope that the things you are afraid of won’t happen.
But there are obviously no guarantees, so you also need to have faith in yourself and that you can make it through whatever negative things come your way.
So basically, the key message here is that no matter the outcome, you’ll be ok. You will get through it.
But that message may take a bit longer to sink in than you’d like. And that’s ok. It took me a long time to realize that. But there were two things that I did to get me to the point where I really did believe that I would be fine.
1. I put effort into the things that I could actually control, that would make me stronger.
2. I faced my fears and realized they actually weren’t that bad.
Controlling the things you can control
Actually Facing Your Fears
So this part is pretty self-explanatory, but basically, you have to gradually face your fears.
For my fear of germs, I just started trying to wash my hands less and less. If I touched something gross and my instinct was to wash my hands, I would just try and hold off for a bit.
Eventually, it became easier and easier to do this. Then I tried doing other things that scared me even more until eventually, I was pretty much over it.
For my social anxiety, I just put myself out there. I started by talking to more people in situations where I probably wouldn’t see them again (in case something went wrong).
Then I would try and do more things that were a bit “riskier”, like telling a joke that I wasn’t sure if they would find funny, and then finally just really letting my guard down completely and just being myself around everyone.
Help from a professional is definitely encouraged for this step! They can really help you feel safe while also stepping outside of your comfort zone!
It took courage though. And it will take courage from you.
But it is seriously so worth it. Now I feel free. I’m not wasting time obsessing over germs. I can talk to whomever I want to and I have made some really cool connections and some truly amazing new friends.
You are so much stronger than you know, and if you follow some of the steps I have laid out, you can kick your fears in the crotch and get on with your life!