Author, Teacher, Psychologist and Speaker

COURAGE VERSUS FEAR

Posted by on Jun 11, 2012 in Blog, Monday Musing | 8 comments

COURAGE: the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, intimidation, or difficulty.

FEAR: a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined.

 

COURAGE TO ADMIT FEAR

Home Alone

 

Fear is a psychological response to any real or perceived danger or threat. Perception is reality. If you perceive danger, you feel fear. It is innate. It is universal. The human mind is wired that way. And, for as much as we understand the emotions of other animals, they are wired that way, too. Fear, and knowing what to fear, is one of the ways that we protect ourselves. It is a basic survival tactic. There is no need to be ashamed to admit when you are afraid.

COURAGE TO FACE FEAR

After we admit our fear, we have to determine if our fear is rational, or irrational. Are we in real danger, or is the perceived threat a reaction to an imagined situation?

The first, a rational fear, is a result of impending danger, evil, or pain and calls for an action of protection. For example, if someone is following you, you need to choose an appropriate course of action. Walk briskly. Cross the road, Change your course. Pass your house. Get to safety. Call the police.

The second, an irrational fear, may be a reaction to an incident that happened previously. Or to a dream, or even something we have seen in a movie or heard someone else talk about. Even though the fear may be based upon an actual incident, when it persists, causing disabling panic attacks and interfering with daily living, it becomes irrational. We must know what we fear. We don’t have to understand everything about it to face it. But we have to identify what we fear and face it.

COURAGE TO RESIST FEAR

Virtus timorem resistit

Once we have admitted, identified and faced our fear, we must choose an appropriate action to resist it. At this time, we know we are afraid. And often, fear has paralyzed us to the point of inaction. With this knowledge, we must employ the power of resistance. If we have decided that our fear is rational, our resistance to that fear must be based in action to dispel it. As I stated above, after we recognize the fear and what it commands of us, we use our power to decide upon its resistance – to call the police, to get to safety, to defend ourselves, and so on. We resist fear by acting against it.

In the case of an irrational fear, even though there is no clear and present danger, the challenge may, in fact, be more difficult. Yet, resistance is still the key. For our mental, psychological, and spiritual survival, we have to resist the strong hold of fear. Often, the more that we think about the “what ifs” and the negative feelings, the stronger they become. Instead of resisting fear, we are reinforcing it. I am not implying that we can readily adopt a “not afraid” persona. Not at all. I am just stating that to begin to resist the fear means we must steadfastly commit to becoming unafraid. You can say over and over again, “I am not afraid. I am not afraid.” This does not take the fear away. But it holds up a sign that says I am resisting fear. It is a step toward disallowing fear to take hold and cripple you. Once you begin to openly and loudly resist fear, you are on your way to healing.

 “Like a magnetized needle floating on a surface of oil, Resistance will unfailingly point to true North – meaning that calling or action it most wants to stop us from doing. We can use this. We can use it as a compass. We can navigate by Resistance, letting it guide us to that calling or action that we must follow before all others. Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel towards pursuing it.”

Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

COURAGE TO OVERCOME FEAR

Eleanor Roosevelt said: “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’  You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

Some of these methods include what we have already done: admit it, face it, stare it down, plan for the possibility of being afraid in a situation and examine and explore the consequences and resist it.

Sometimes we cannot do this alone. We need help. And often the people we are closest to are not going to be able to help us. You can get professional help. Psychologists and therapists have many different strategies and techniques to help you with the aspects of fear, such as phobias, and panic and anxiety attacks. One of these methods is Systematic Desensitization Behavior Therapy, which involves a step by step process to confront your fear. Another is Exposure Therapy, where the therapist exposes you to the very situations that you avoid for fear of having an attack. And counseling, or psychotherapy, can help you cope with any of those fears, rational and/or irrational.

For more:

American Association of Christian Counselors

American Counseling Association

American Psychiatric Association

American Psychological Association

National Association of School Psychologists

Read: Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard

Learn how Much-Afraid overcomes her tormenting fears as she passes through many dangers and mounts at last to the High Places.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

8 Comments

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  1. Susan

    Ann,may you continue to find the strength you need to face your fears. Thanks for the good advice. Nicely done, once again!

    • Ann Eisenstein

      Thank you, Susan. No one knows better than you the continual struggle I go through each day to admit, face, resist, and overcome my fears! As always, thanks for your comments.

  2. maureen Wartski

    A valuable post… much to think about. Thanks for posting!

  3. Joan Y. Edwards

    Dear Ann,
    I love you and pray that your courage and security come back to you.
    Love you.

  4. Carol Baldwin

    love these quotes, and have loved Hinds feet on High places. Seems like you are working through your own fears, even as you help others. Isn’t that the way it often is?

    • Ann Eisenstein

      Carol, thanks for stopping by. I have loved Hinds Feet on High Places for years. And no matter what stage of my life I am in – or what is happening in it – I often think of it and look to Much Afraid for encouragememt! And yes, it is the way God intended! This one has been most difficult because of the sense of violation – but, all in all, the important things are intact. We are safe. We are loved. We are where we need to be.

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