Fears. Everybody has them, in varying degrees. Even the most confident people have things they fear. Sometimes fear is warranted. Any life-threatening situation may bring fear, and that’s a natural reaction. Most of us experience other fears that are not as logical.
For many, meeting new people, speaking to a group (large or small), or learning something new can be terrifying. Most of the time, these fears happen because we are worried about making a mistake or appearing incompetent. Thomas Edison, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington Carver and others have said that their greatest learning was from their mistakes. Wouldn't it have been a shame if they had given up without trying?
Sometimes, we are afraid to say what we really think or believe, because we don’t know how others will react. Will we be able to express our thoughts clearly, so that we are not misunderstood? Will others disagree with us, or think that we are foolish or wrong?
While many people fear failure and embarrassment, others fear success. I know a number of people who have turned down wonderful opportunities, because they feared that others would be jealous, or would think that they didn’t deserve such success or abundance.
There are times when these fears affect not only our lives, but those of our children, as well. For example, choosing an educational plan for our children can be affected by our fears. It can be scary to pull our children out of school to begin homeschooling. It can, also, be scary to send our children to school, if homeschooling is not working. It can be especially scary for some families to choose an online school, when so many express opposition to them, whether the opposition is to the funding, or to the use of the term “homeschooling” by charters. In some cases, families stick with the familiar, even if it’s not working, rather than risk criticism or ostracism.
Although there have been many, many times when my fears held me back, I have tried to encourage my children to try new things, to meet new people, to ask questions when they don’t understand and to say what they believe. It is easier for my more outgoing daughter to do this, than it is for the one who tends to be quieter, but on many occasions the quieter one has surprised me by overcoming fears to attempt something I never thought she would. Often they have done things that I don’t think I would have had the courage to try. That is a good lesson for me, to “practice what I preach.” Many times, I have to force myself to step up to a new experience, but nearly every time, I am rewarded for my bravery with a new friend, a new skill (or the beginnings of one), new understanding and ever-so-slightly increased courage for the next time.
Sometimes when I am facing a scary situation, I try to determine exactly what it is that is scaring me about that situation. I sometimes talk to myself about the situation, as if I am explaining it to someone else. Often, as I am explaining why I am afraid to do something, I realize that my reasons are not really logical, and sound more like excuses. Often, this realization gives me just the boost I need to do what needs to be done.
It can, also, help to talk to a good friend about the situation. Often they can look at it more objectively, and advise you as to whether your fears are justified, or an excuse for not trying. Ask them to encourage you -- to be your own personal cheerleader.
Many people choose to make new plans or resolutions for New Year's, yet many of those plans and resolutions are forgotten due to fear.
So, face your fears with all the courage you can muster (even if you have to fake it for awhile). Ask yourself, “what is the worst that can happen, if I do this?” And “what is the best that can happen, if I do this?” Answer those questions honestly, and then make the best decision based on those answers. You will be on your way to a richer and more rewarding life experience, and your actions will inspire your children and many others to face and overcome their own fears.
“Keep your fears to yourself but share your courage with others.” ~Robert Louis Stevenson
“Many of our fears are tissue-paper-thin, and a single courageous step would carry us clear through them.” ~Brendan Francis
“There is much in the world to make us afraid. There is much more in our faith to make us unafraid.” ~Frederick W. Cropp