Ella and her dog stood side by side under the late-spring moon, staring into the thick, vast darkness, similarly frightened of the things moving in the dark, frightened of the unknown.Elif Sharak, The Forty Rules of Love
The unknown is a scary place. It’s ominous: you don’t know what’s lurking in there. It makes sense then that most fears appear in the dark. Fears, doubts, lack of control: it haunts us all the time.
Why do you think fear stops us from doing the things we want to do? We have doubts to stop us from taking steps forward. We have second thoughts about doing things we want to dive into. We have past traumas that prevent us as if on reflex:
“This bad thing has happened to me before, what’s going to stop it from happening again?”
There are two ways to handle our fears:
- Get rid of them
- Learn how to traverse them.
Number 1 is dependent on your fears – I can’t teach you that. That is entirely subjective.
Instead, I can share with you ways to understand that fear is there, present, and move forward. Train yourself well and you can learn how to use fear and doubt as a weapon to further yourself.
But first, a primer on what we are all made of:
All of us are made of two things: logic and emotion
One should keep the intellect satisfied and be careful not to spoil it.Elif Sharak, The Forty Rules of Love
A person consists of two main aspects: Intellect, and Heart. Logic and Emotion.
With these two aspects, how we use them defines us. I can express myself better in writing and speaking because there is greater connection to my own intellect and heart. Others might find their intellect encouraged in other hobbies. It can be science, humanities, and other forms of art. We find ourselves in these two areas all the time.
Intellect and love are made of different materials. Intellect ties people in knots and risks nothing, but love dissolves all tangles and risks everything. Intellect is always cautious and advises, ‘beware too much ecstasy,’ whereas love says, ‘Oh, never mind! Take the plunge!’ Intellect does not easily break down, whereas love can effortless reduce itself to rubble. But treasures are hidden among ruins. A broken heart hides treasures.Elif Sharak, The Forty Rules of Love
Intellect fuels your logic. Heart fuels your emotion. These are parts of us we can never mute. Muting our logic prevents us from figuring out the next action. Muting our emotions prevents us from taking it. Missing either one is akin to getting rid of our humanity. Don’t ever do that.
But, these are also the building blocks of our fears.
What we experience and how we were taught to react to these serves as ways to deliver ourselves. Some might feel uncomfortable in social situations because they do not know how to handle them, resulting in a growing fear of it. Others may have had a bad experience in closed spaces, resulting in claustrophobia. It is all relative.
Controlling the moment of fear
All doubts, worries and negative thoughts stem from the same source: fear. It’s the same when we’re looking at the past, present and future.
Fear is present around us: it is what we do with that fear that sets us apart.
Fear becomes a moment when we allow it to be. We have those times when our worries would overwhelm us, and we spend hours on end drowning in our thoughts. These are the moments that ruin us in the end.
Accepting the fear and learning how to traverse it involves two parts:
- Understand your notion of the fear, and fear itself
- Learning how to be stronger mentally, to traverse the fear
You’ll need both to overcome it. Fears will reduce over time if you hold the right habits and the right state of mind. Through struggles, upbringings and attempts at bettering oneself, we can find true wisdom in these rollercoaster-like moments. To maintain your character and mental strength whilst going through these moments, you can:
Control the moments that come to your heart
What moments make you afraid?
You might share the burdens of those who share their problems with you – it is up to you to shape how you react to them. Their complaints, their doubts, their problems: you have a choice to take it to heart.
Your fears are the same. Find the triggers that make them appear. If people talk about a certain topic that triggers it, negative thoughts may surface up. This is when you have the reasoned choice of letting it affect you emotionally.
If you do a bit of introspection, you can understand your emotional thought process. How you react to your fears at first glance seems automatic, but a growing awareness of them leads to understanding. From understanding, we can learn to accept. From acceptance, we can control.
This is how you maintain the right mindset. The above are examples of negative experiences, avenues to let fear come to our hearts. Limit the avenues, and you will limit the fears.
If they are unavoidable, create habits that inject positive thoughts into yourself. Gratitude works the best in this case: Find it. What are you grateful for? What are you happy about? It could be the warm sunlight just outside your window, or the sound of the birds. It can be a book that lets you escape this world to dive into another.
You need to know that we have a choice in allowing fear to control our actions. I am scared of this, therefore I shouldn’t do that. That is a reaction. But we better ourselves in adversity, so why not do it regardless? Think of the positive outcome, the what-ifs: some fears are born out of the same thought process, we just need to focus on the bright side.
Control the moments that come to your mind
What do you learn, and what do you remember?
Not everything in the world is happy and fun: we hear of bad news happening everyday. It takes a toll on us, hearing about all these tragic things often. The news of the world and what we learn, and how we look at them stem from our minds. Even the methods we use to do these are the same.
Reading more about our fears can lead to this too: for those who can’t swim, hearing news of people drowning can further amplify that fear.
But look at the other side: if you want to control the moments that come to your mind, you need to have a purposeful reaction. Reading about our fears can amplify them, but if we have a purposeful reaction, we can accept them better. This could be reading about how to swim to face your fear of drowning. How we choose to navigate the noise around us is important in controlling the present moment. It’s a skill that we can hone.
You have a choice in what to read, learn and remember. This includes anything related to your fears. When you become exposed to them, do so with an objective: not to scare yourself even more, but to prepare yourself for when the fear comes. Nothing more, nothing less.
Control the moments that come to those around you (to a certain degree).
Are you distracted by breaking news? Then take some leisure time to learn something good, and stop bouncing around. But when you do, keep in mind the other mistake, to be so distracted by getting control that you wear yourself out and lose a purpose by which you can direct your impulses and thoughts.Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 2.7
The people around us define us.
There are moments when the people around us are afraid, doubtful, and lost due to personal reason. That is fine, it is human. But more often than not, these moments can affect us as well: they may have not learned how to traverse these doubts as well as we do.
Help them. Control these moments with them. Give them support, show them that fear is a thought, not an obligation.
In the factory of our minds, Fear is an unobligated product of thought. Excitement, calmness, confidence is the same. We have a choice to build what we want.N.T.C.
Do not let their problems bleed to you, because that will influence you. You are not obligated to do that.
The conclusion: it’s a system
This is how you traverse your fears and doubts.
How to traverse fears and doubts
- Understand that humans are made of two things: logic and emotion.
- Understand your fears, and the notion of fear itself
- Build your mental strength
- Control the moments that come to your heart
- Control the moments that come to your mind
- Control the moments that come to those around you
- Repeat Steps 1-6
There is nothing more than that. The rest of it is habitual: we tend to forget that fears last as long as we are alive.
Traversing your fears is habitual: we tend to forget that fears last as long as we are alive. We only need a reminder to persevere through them.N.T.C.
Remember that facing fears and doubts involves controlling the moments that come to us, both to the heart and mind. Having an imbalance to protect each one can cause problems.
Not all situations are binary: some require a mixture of both empathy and logic, and these two stem from your heart and mind respectively. For you to traverse your biggest worries, mixing those two together means finding balance for yourself. Before you find balance for the world, find balance for yourself.
They all require the same: strengthen your mind, react accordingly, and be aware of what you do when you face your fears. Write them down, create an alternative and tackle them. Limit the negative avenues, increase the positive influences. It is a step by step process, just that we need to do it thousands of times to face our fears.
It takes effort yes, but what if you do this everyday, and you become strong enough to take down your fears all the time? Doesn’t that excite you? You would be proud of yourself, and you will be happy you took the time to build your mind.