Embracing Fear

I refuse to believe that there is someone in the world that isn’t scared of something. Whether it’s a plane taking off, a hospital visit or setting foot in a yoga class – there’s always going to be something that leaves you with sweaty palms and that horrible feeling of impending doom in the pit of your stomach.

As an overcautious child, I was scared of everything. I lapped up safety warning videos and listened to wise adults, refusing to go near climbing frames, firework shows or busy main roads. My fears were so endless, I couldn’t possibly list them all – swimming pools, the dark, heights, roller coasters and even sleeping with the door closed (in case I couldn’t see who was about to attack me at night).

I’m thankful to say I’ve since got over most of those fears. Becoming an adult generally means you snap out of minor anxieties and what seemed monumental as a child seems minor when you experience grief, heartbreak or having to pay your electricity bill.

Doing something that scares you is also much more easily avoidable as an adult. Have you ever noticed that as a grown up, no-one can force you to do anything you don’t want to do? It might seem limiting but it allows you to put your fears away and forget about facing them. Terrified of roller coasters? Stay away from theme parks. Scared of water? Give the swimming pool a miss. If you’re that unwilling to escape your worries, you can even forget about holidays abroad (no plane travel) or get someone else to rid your house of spiders.

There are some fears that have to be faced, however, and this week saw me doing just that. My biggest anxiety is going to the dentist (mainly through plenty of trauma as a child) and being faced with root canal was the worst thing I could imagine. Before my appointment, I stressed myself out no end – I must have read a thousand forums and endlessly googled ‘Will root canal hurt?’ until I very nearly went mad.

In the end, settling myself in the dentist’s chair was the worst bit. After an injection, I barely felt a thing and by focusing on my breathing and Kirsty MacColl’s dulcet tones on the radio, I managed to get through the whole thing without flinching. Walking out just 30 minutes later, I felt pretty pleased with myself too. It might be a cliche but it turns out that the thought of doing something is much worse than actually doing it.

Ultimately, facing your fears is a way of pushing yourself to your limits and that is no bad thing. If you’re scared of something, you’re letting it rule you – and while there is no shame in being frightened, the feeling you get when you’ve smashed one of your fears is completely worth it. Whether you want to embrace a new class at the gym, try public speaking or take on the challenge of the London Marathon, it’s always worth giving it a go. You might just surprise yourself.

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