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Overcoming Fear

Most of us have some fears. Not all fears keep us from living a life of freedom, but some are absolutely paralyzing. If you have that kind of fear, how do you overcome it? I explain in the video below, then again in the text below that.

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As I state in the video, my fear of balloons popping has not been a detriment to my life. My fear of falling, eh, a little bit (I’ve always told people that I’m not afraid of heights, I’ve just got a healthy respect for gravity). But what if you’re afraid to talk to strangers? Afraid of dogs? Afraid of a particular type of person (gender, race, etc.)? Afraid of criticism? What if you have a particularly paralyzing fear, such as agoraphobia, or fear of being outside your house? And let’s not forget the fear of failure!

Since life is full of dogs, people of all kinds, and criticism; since there is always a risk to leaving your house, such fears are almost sure to keep you from shooting for – let alone achieving – your highest goals and biggest dreams. If you want to get out of your rut of a life, if you’re tired of feeling unfulfilled and Charlie Brownish (a-hem, we’ve been reading a lot of old Peanuts® comics lately), then you need to overcome your fears.

How?

Build a bridge, and get over it.

The bridge that you build is some kind of safe exposure to the thing you’re afraid of. You might build it quickly, and fly over it in a few minutes. You might have to build it more slowly, gradually increasing your exposure to the thing you’re afraid of.

When I was twelve or thirteen, I was terrified of those dadgum poles on the playground equipment. You know, those ones where you step into a hold, wrap your feet around the pole, and slide down? But one day, I was at a park where a girl several years younger than I stood at the top of the pole, not wanting to go down.

“I’m scared,” she told her mother.

“If you don’t do it now, you’ll never do it,” was her mother’s wise reply.

It hit me in my solar plexus. I realized she was right. I had to face my fear sometime, or I never would.

Her daughter slid down without incident. Then, it was my turn. I stood at the top of the pole, looking for a long moment down at the ground. Trying to figure out how to get my legs wrapped around the pole before my hands gave out on me.

My heart beat quickly. I felt shaky.

Then, I did it. I grabbed onto the pole with both hands, and with all the courage I could muster, I threw my legs around it next. And slid down. Without falling.

Then I climbed back up, and slid down again. With absolutely no fear, just anticipation of the thrill.

I hope in heaven one day to be able to find that mother and tell her “thank you.”

More often, people need more time to overcome their fears. For example, if you’re afraid of spiders, one thing you can do is have a friend find a cute baby spider to put in a jar. You just sit and watch the spider for a certain amount of time. The next day, you watch it for a longer period of time. Then your friend finds a bigger spider. After a month or two, you might be to the point where you can let a largish spider crawl on  your arm without freaking out.

How do you overcome fear? This is a critical question for anyone who wants more than just a mediocre life. And the answer is simple: build a bridge, and get over it.

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