FEAR: THE CRIPPLING SHADOW

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I laugh at myself now that I remember: I was sickly scared of the dark. Locking me in a dark room, when I was barely ten, would evaporate any iota of stubbornness or rudeness I had in me. 

I would promise earnestly, tears flowing from the creak of my soul, that I wouldn’t commit that crime again — even if I had earlier never planned to stop. 

I couldn’t bear it: the visionless void, the dark dancing curtains, the self-opening wardrobe door and the windswept window panels, the strange figures my brain cooked up from hanging clothes and a chair that would suddenly open its fusiform glittering-black eyes to me as if it would eat me up for all my sins — especially farting unapologetically on it. 

I imagined a lot, sincerely. I should have screamed but I thought it would only wake the creatures of the dark up — the ones I thought hid underneath the bed. It really was an experience!

Today, I can even walk the road at late hours and may even be more occupied by what I’d cook for dinner than by how violently the shrubs are waving at me. 

This made me stop and think: since none of the thoughts I cooked up in my mind actually happened while I was young, why was I incessantly scared?

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F.E.A.R., Zig Ziglar defines, is a False Evidence Appearing Real. I think I find this acronym strikingly smart, don’t you?

Most times, the object of our fear doesn’t actualize. It remains a black balloon with white paintings of zig zags for teeth and two large fullstops for its eyes — it seems like the danger would consume us. But they’re just dust barely landing on the surface of reality. 

Why We Fear

Of and on its own, fear is not entirely a bad thing. In fact, it is part of our emotional build up. 

Somehow, we should just be grateful for this emotion. Just imagine what would have become of us if we met a wild animal, say a Tiger, and we just stood there thinking we would win it in an eye-staring competition.

In these two scenarios, we can appreciate the impact fear has in saving our lives. 

Or think with me for a moment. We hear a couple of random gunshots and we just keep walking at the road center like we wore a headset playing High Hopes by Panic at the Disco (that could, probably, be the last song we’d listen to by the way). 

The problem regarding fear, however, is letting it take “total” control of our being. Allowing it to prevent us from doing things that would benefit us in the future or from making wise decisions; these are, factually, the perils of fear.

What We Fear… 

Most often, our fears are rooted in the experiences we’ve had in the past. 

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We’re shocked by electricity, we may soon become increasingly scared of naked wires.

We got hit or nearly hit by a vehicle and any four-wheeler becomes a suspect.

We get laughed at for trying something and we detest doing something out of the norm and get stuck in the seashell of mediocrity.

Generally, anything that has either posed a threat or discomfort to the normal stands as an event or thing worth fearing.

This is one reason why what we fear is relative. Your younger sibling might cringe at the sight of a cat and you might think they don’t value cutie cats while you might jump out of your skin when a cockroach takes a random flight around you.

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… And How It Cripples Us

  • It hinders our attaining our best.
  • It can barricade the bridge we ought to cross to make new friends or new connections.
  • It gets us stuck in a mundane routine — even when our hearts cry to differ!
  • It cracks the code of trust.
  • It makes us unnecessarily tense for good-for-nothing reasons at events.

  • Fear can help us successfully make wrong decisions.

(Imagine you’re sitting at the edge of a flat roof, legs dangling, sun smiling, while you sip a Jamaican cocktail. Then suddenly, a knife’s tip dances at the back of your neck. Your focus wouldn’t be on the savory taste of the drink again, that I’m pretty sure of).

What We Can Do to Overcome Fear 

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We can’t eliminate fear from our being, totally. However, we can get rid of its negative and crippling impacts. Here are what you can do about it:

  1. Face it

Remember the story about my fear of the dark I showed you earlier? 

If you noticed, I didn’t give you the middle part of the story — the transition from the fearful me to the why-was-I-even-scared-back-then me. 

So here’s the middle piece of the story:

I was so tired of fidgeting when told to go to the dark room as a punishment. I didn’t like it at all. And so, one day, while my whole family laughed at whatever the television was displaying, I took with me a torch light, went to the dark room and waited. 

Whenever the darkness made me cringe, I would put on the torch and get relieved that the funny looking clothes on the wardrobe were just… clothes. 

I did this on my own repeatedly until I didn’t need the torch light anymore. 

And yes, my parents sending me to stay in the dark didn’t really scare me as much. And soon after they realized that it had no effect on me anymore.

  1. Imagine the worse
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I went to submit an assignment late to my lecturer shortly after the deadline. 

I went to the office and scattered around the door were fellow defaulters waiting for the door to miraculously open up so they could enter — if they had the liver to do so.

I somehow cooked up the worst that could happen: a slap for my unseriousness, total ignorance, a roaring yell to march out of his office. 

Then I said to myself, “As long as death is not on the likely-to-happen list, there’s no crime trying. I took a deep breath in — probably as heavy as a liter of water in my lungs — then I respectfully walked in. 

Those outside wondered why I took so long; they probably cooked up a worse case scenario in their heads.

I came out smiling without my paper on my hands — after some wordy chastisements, he collected my assignment. 

I was relieved; even a fragment of the worst didn’t occur, but it had tamed and belittled my fear beforehand.

  1. After you face a fear, reward yourself for not chickening out.
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This strategy works so well in reinforcing the fact that you have overcome a fear and you can still relive that victory. 

For example if you have a fear of asking or answering a question in your Board meeting, lecture hall or any other form of meetings, trick your brain into taking a chance to ask that question. 

Such rewards as dropping by your favorite restaurant  and treating your stomach with greatness, or visiting a long time friend or maybe watching an episode of your favorite series. 

Remember the purpose of the reward and don’t overindulge in it that it becomes a mundane or regular habit. Make it a special gift for facing your fears.

Striking a Conclusion… 

Fear is not totally an enemy. It’s part of what makes us humans — our emotions. 

However when it presents itself in overdose it can be a limiting factor to our growth and progress. This is why it is essential that we learn to tame it.

Photo credit: velocityaccounting.com.au

Action plans for smarter thunders.

  1. Make a list of 5 things your fear has hindered you from achieving.
  1. Plan out how you can hinder the hindrances 

(If it’s public speaking, for instance, consider if you need to take a practical course on it to learn how to better cope with stage fright. Or do you need to practice on an “audience-less” stage first?)

  1. Use the what’s-the-worst-that-can-happen question to confront your fears and visualize the worst as something that you can still survive with. 

That moment when you want to walk into your superior’s office to make a request, just ask yourself: “what’s the worst that can happen?”

It could improve your confidence since you’ve visualized the worst already — it wouldn’t be a fear of the unknown. 

Most times, that worst, that we so fear, do not even actualize.

  1. Develop a reward system for overcoming your fears. 

With your list of your fears, decide on which ones to start acting on now and then, by the side, write a reward for acting on it regardless of the outcome — as long as you just act on that fear and face it.

  1. Share this article with AT LEAST FIVE 👋 persons you wish would read this — someone you know would strike⚡ their world 🌍 smarter 🧠 with this info.

Strike your world smarter.

Published by Sixtus E. Ezeadum

Check out: smarterthunder.com Medical student|| content Writer || Blogger || Emotional intelligence Enthusiast

6 thoughts on “FEAR: THE CRIPPLING SHADOW

  1. I love this so much 🥺. The imagery is perfect! It’s so relatable.
    The memes too😂.
    The way you divided this into sub-themes, the listings, all nice.

    And of course, the lessons.

    You reminded me of some things and showed me new ones.
    Thank you Ebube!

    I’m definitely sharing this to at least five persons 😌

    Liked by 1 person

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