More on Overcoming Fear
There was an excellent post over at Lifehack today called Living Scared, which talked at length about the how and why of fear, and how living with too much fear can be detrimental to our own happiness. I won’t go into much detail, go read it for yourself.
The one thing I will say is this. For Survivors, fear is a huge issue. I’d be willing to bet that most of us would list this as the top of all of our struggles. In fact, when I was reading in the post about how many people as so afraid of change, and so comfortable with their life the way it is now, even though it doesn’t make them happy, I immediately thought of survivors. We’re so desperate for a sense of control, a sense of “normal”, that we gladly accept whatever that means. It may not be great, in fact it may not make us happy at all, but we’re comfortable with it, and there’s something to be said for that.
There is something to be said for that, certainly abuse survivors need a sense of safety, and comfort, but the goal of your healing shouldn’t be just that. Trust me, I understand that is a lot of progress, getting to “comfortable” was a huge step up from where I was at one time. But it’s not enough. There’s more to life than that. There are so many wonderful and exciting things to experience in life, and I want to learn to be less fearful, to have the courage to go out and do great things. I can’t do that by accepting things just because it’s what I know.
In the end, I didn’t work this hard, and come this far, and go through all the crap I went through just to live a boring, unhappy existence. I need to remind myself of this daily, if not hourly! It is so easy for me to simply stick with what I know, instead of seeking out what will bring meaning and happiness to my life. I need to remember that the things I’m fearful of, failing, criticism, or big changes, aren’t worse than what I’ve already survived. I will survive them as well.
Thank you for bringing up such an important point. We really do have to keep pushing ourselves out of our safety zone to continually grow and heal. In some ways, the two are synonymous. Healing is about continual growing.
I think learning to treat fear as just another emotion–and not a reflection of real life circumstances–is a hard lesson to learn. It is also difficult to trust ourselves. Years of being hypervigilant and feeling shameful also contribute to a passive lifestyle. With so much to confront, it becomes safer to treat life as a spectator sport–but not nearly as fulfilling. And as you point out, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Ellen Bass was right: it does take courage to heal–and to keep on healing as well. Unfortunately, the fear of even feeling fear can keep people playing life way too safe.