5 Ways to Overcome Fear
Recently, I visited a recovery center, and I held an in-depth conversation with their executive director. We were discussing the power of shame that has held many of us captive. This was of prime interest to me as I have recently chronicled and published my own bout with shame in my book Resilient: My Journey to Wholeheartedness.
“Shame is at the heart of all addictions”
Shame seems to be at the heart of all addictions. We experience shame over the wounds of our early childhood traumas, our seemingly inherent weaknesses to stop our disruptive life behaviors, and the extreme costs paid by our families and community for our unhealthy choices. Shame often worked overtime to suck the life right out of me and attempt to keep me locked in an addictive cycle. For much of my life it was successful, but no more. The director’s response to me was “yes, shame is powerful, but fear may be even more insidious in keeping us chained to our addictive thinking. I didn't realize how insightful this was until I realized that overcoming fear was my next battle to wage and win.
“Fear Incessantly Taunts”
Fear reveals itself in my life as incessant mental gymnastics. This may be true for you as well. Fear starts in my mind with a thought, and then soon after all of my physical senses come under it supervision. I become immobilized to move forward for meaningful destinations as I am seemingly overwhelmed with thoughts of sabotaging myself so I won’t fail. Fear becomes my natural response to challenges and obstacles. I must pull back so I won’t get hurt again.
Fear seemingly asks one question over and over, and then over again. It asks relentlessly “what if?” What if they won’t accept me? What if my idea is no good? What if they won’t follow me? What if this person exposes me? What if I fail again? What if I am not good enough? What if? What if? What if?
This constant torment just wears me out, and I want and need relief. Unfortunately, I have discovered the hard way that pornography nor food are the tools for my current and future relief. They comfort for a while, and then they turn on me like a pit bull attacking a steak. Being truthful, both of these weapons just make it worse. A lot worse. Your drug of choice (d.o.c.) may be different but reaping the same results when succumbing to fear and its pressure.
“Recovery is a Battle”
Recovery is like waging a battle, one right after another similar to “whac-a-mole.” One mole is smashed, and another rises up in a different spot. I smashed shame and now fear has reared its ugly head. Well, fear doesn't know it yet, but it’s time for decline is rapidly approaching, and here is how I am going to do it. I am going to partner with God. My and our remedy for this consistent and familiar torment in the life of an addict is in our 2nd step that declares “let go and let God.”
- I am turning and facing the truth. Fear is my enemy. It is an enemy that wants to control you and me. With God, we can defeat its lies. I will name it, and allow light to invade its darkness.
- I am choosing to live reflectively. I know by experience failure is not fatal so there is nothing to actually fear. Whether I succeed or fail in an endeavor, I will be safe. I will practice mindfulness. I won’t reach out for my former d.o.c.’s.
- Paul Perez, a coach for Excellent Cultures Link teaches that the risk zone (where fear resides to push us back to our norm of unhealthy comforting) is where all growth occurs in our personal and professional lives. So, that being true, when fear raises its ugly head, I will remind myself, I must be onto something good that is going to help me grow even stronger. Encountering irrational fear means I am on a good path.
- I may have had my brain hard wired for fear through early Adverse Childhood Experiences, but I will now choose to live with daily affirmations rehearsing my personal value, strength, hope and vision. I will intentionally renew my brain to become my very best. I am a man of power, love and soundness of mind. Fear will not be allowed to occupy a space any longer. I have power to choose differently. This is my cup of recovery. Why not let it be yours as well.
- Finally, I will act. A parked car can’t be steered. I will step out and accept life as it is, not as I wish it would be.
Dr. Dave Warner is a recovery coach, mental health peer counselor, author, and speaker. His current book Resilient My Journey to Wholeheartedness is available now. He resides in Everett, Washington and is an active leader in the New Heart and Healing recovery community as well as volunteering at the Everett Recovery House.