A Teacher’s Take: How we can use Fear to Find our Happiness

Overcoming your fear is widely discussed topic. Many people have spoken about the importance of conquering your fears and achieving your goals. Now I am not disagreeing with this notion. I think it is of the utmost importance that we don’t let fear control our lives, however, I believe that there is an alternative method to overcoming your fear. I choose NOT to overcome my fear because I believe it can be used to help us make informed decisions and send us on the right path. Why would you want to get rid of such a powerful tool?

What do we mean by ‘overcoming our fear?’

Firstly, lets define ‘overcoming fear.’ To overcome your fear means to no longer feel afraid in that particular situation again. It implies that defeating our fear that one time guarantees the prevention of feeling fear again in the future. To be honest, I don’t think that this is a realistic option. You cannot permanently remove fear. We need our fear. I believe that fear does not need to be the dark ‘enemy’ that it is made out to be. True, fear is a venomous reptile that skulks and sneaks its way through us waiting for the opportunity to devour us. But like any beast, that creature can be tamed and so can our fear.

 

So what is an alternative to ‘overcoming our fear?’

Instead of filling people’s minds with the idea that they can eliminate their fears we should be instructing them to use their fears! Fear is a signal to us that something is wrong. A rumbling stomach means we’re hungry. A dry mouth means we’re thirsty. When we shiver it means we’re cold and need to get warm. When we sweat it means we’re hot and need to cool down. Fear is a call to action. Instead of fighting it, we must stop and listen to it. Next to love and hate, fear is one of the single most powerful emotions that a human can feel. Like love and hate, it can drive you in the direction that you need to go.

 

So the question is: How do I use my fear?

The next time you feel fear ask yourself the following question:  What will be the consequences of the decision I make?

Let me give you an example from my life:

In a previous post I discussed my possible change in career from teaching into the police force.

The thought of a possible change in my career scared me. It made me want to retreat into my castle and pretend like the thought never entered my mind. But then I asked myself the question I mentioned above.

What will be the consequences of the decision I make? I could choose to not go through with the application but then I would always be wondering ‘what if?’

The thought of living a life in doubt was something I feared more! So I decided to use this fear to push me into applying. Whilst I declined my offer to join the academy, the journey itself was a positive experience and taught me a lot about myself.

 

Fear can be useful!

As you can see from my example, the question I asked helped me to stop and consider the consequences. It was then that I used my fear of these consequences to make the most appropriate choice. My fear didn’t need to be conquered or overcome! My fear in fact helped me! Your fear can be used to help you to make a decision!

Let’s look at other examples (not from my life!):

1) A soldier is taking fire from the enemy. There is a wall 20 metres away that can provide cover from the gunfire. The fear sets in. He asks himself:

What will be the consequences of the decision I make? I can choose to stay put but I might be killed.

The soldier makes his decision and runs to cover and escapes enemy fire. His fear of the consequences, i.e dying, helped him to make a decision. He used his fear to take action and survive.

2) A young lady has been working at a company for four years. She is offered a new position at her company. There is more money involved but also more responsibility. The thought of added responsibility scares her. She asks her self the question:

What will be the consequences of the decision I make? If I choose to stay in my current role then I won’t make more money and the chance for a promotion may not come again for awhile. So she decides to take the job.

Like the soldier, she didn’t need to worry about conquering her fear. Instead she listened to it, asked the question and then used these consequences to make a decision.

Like a friend, fear can help us to make the correct decisions in life. The thought and stress of trying to fight and overcome your fears can distract you from the main goal in your life which is to be happy.

Make fear your ally. Listen to it. Use it.

 

Damian

 

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