How Do We Combat Fear?

Elvis Elvis

What is courage? How do we combat fear?

Fear comes in many forms, there is healthy fear that keeps you out of harms way and is essential for survival, and then there is psychological fear that can paralyze you from living a complete and fulfilling life.

I heard once that “courage is not the lack of fear, but the willingness to act in spite of it.”

There have been many moments in my life where I have had to combat fear, but one childhood incident in particular was a true turning point that defined my whole outlook and reaction to that emotionally imobilizing state. The best way I can convey it is with this excerpt of the actual incident from my book.

I was probably about eleven at the time, and living in a controlling, repressive and isolated environment. This was a primitive time in my development, animalistic, a true survival of the fittest mentality. To combat fear seemed to be a daily fact of life. I remember reading the book “Lord of the Flies” and feeling a chilling sense of familiarity creep over me.

Excerpt from Firewalker:

“Pavel’s three children truly believed, often told by their mother, that they were superior. After all, as the real children of the chosen one, they must be. Only the oldest tried playing peacemaker, but the other two were given carte blanche to lord their birthright over all of us. I had made the fatal mistake of standing my ground against the ring leader in a “play” sword fight, I knew the consequences were at hand. Soon the hunting party assembled.

‘We’re coming for you! You’re in trouble and we’re gonna get you!’ I heard one of their voices coming from the back door of the trailer. I ran to one of my best hiding places, behind a pile of boxes in the small attic of an outbuilding. I lay there for a long time in the dark, imagining what they had in store for me. I felt ill from the fear, heart pounding and palms clammy. As I crouched in the attic, my eyes straining to see below through the dim light of the hatch, something happened.

How Do We Combat Fear?

The fear had reached such a point that suddenly I could take it no longer. ‘No more!’ The thought pounded in my mind in pace with my racing heart. I climbed down from the attic. The grass on the terrace lay matted and muddy from the morning rain. My knees felt weak. ‘I’m right here. Come and get me!’ I yelled defiantly, waiting empty-handed for the inevitable. ‘Do your worst,’ I thought, ‘at least it will be over and I won’t have to be afraid any more.’They emerged from behind the trailer, 5 in all. Ivan took the lead, wielding a wooden club. He came right up to me, confused that I refused to run. I felt the weight of the club strike my leg.

At that moment a number of things happened. First, it didn’t really hurt that badly; second, a resounding thought ran through my mind: ‘Is that all you’ve got? Is this what I hid from, dreading all that time?’ Instinctively I bent over and grimaced, wailing as if hurt badly. Satisfied, he marched off, his entourage in tow, mission accomplished. I smiled, realizing I would never hide again, their worst could never be as bad as my own fear.

This lesson changed my life, and my new found ability to face intimidation head-on had shaken the balance of power. Maria, the middle child, tested this the next morning, ‘You’re just a stupid Edsel. (a demeaning nickname for my family after the Edsel car)You don’t know anything. She advanced, expecting me to back down. I stood my ground, drew back my fist, and with one punch knocked her over. She scrambled to her feet, holding her chin and howling as she ran down the hallway.

The truth flooded me like a brilliant light. They were bullies, and no matter what bruises I acquired in the fight, the pride of standing up for myself far outweighed the pain.”

Since then my approach to combat fear has been head on confrontation. This is not necessarily the right approach to all scenarios of course, but when dealing with my own internal fear it is one that has worked for me.

There are many forms of fears and we have to look at answers depending on the situation.

#1: How do we combat fear that stems from emotional causes?

#2: How do we combat fear in an imminent physical danger situation?

#3: How do we combat fear of hurting someone else (thier feelings etc.)

There is much to explore on this topic of how to combat fear in our lives.