When you struggle with anxiety with the intensity that I did, you begin to recognize unhealthy levels of anxiety in others, even if they don’t recognize it in themselves. For me, living with severe anxiety and panic was evident to anyone close to me. It was loud and proud!
However, for some of us, anxiety and fear has been a major part of our life and we don’t even recognize it.
When I first set out to write about anxiety, the first post in my Fearless in 21 Days series, was about understanding fear. I have come across so many well intentioned people who tried to help me ‘overcome’ anxiety with advice, healing crystals, scriptures, essential oils…etc. These same people seemed dumbfounded by my visible mental frailty, but as they talked, I realized that a lot of them carried some very serious hidden symptoms of anxiety themselves.
I came to this conclusion. WE ALL STRUGGLE WITH FEAR! Some of us openly, some of us hidden. Some of us physically express it, others emotionally. FEAR WILL ALWAYS BE A COMMON HUMAN CONDITION, guiding our emotions and decisions. However, we may not be able to rid ourselves of it, but we can learn to see it for what it is, accept the truth that we are indeed afraid, and then do the right thing despite it. That’s indeed bravery!
“we may not be able to rid ourselves of fear, but we can learn to see it for what it is, accept the truth that we are indeed afraid, and then do the right thing despite it. That’s indeed bravery!”
As I worked through my anxieties, and all the emotions and temptations that came with it, I saw a connection between different personality traits.
– People who have a bossy and assertive manner on the outside, whose motto is ‘fear nothing and no one!” are often ones plagued with fear. Their attempt to control others and the circumstances around them is rooted in the fear that IF THEY DON’T CONTROL IT, IT WILL ALL FALL APART!
Fix Its – The classic fixer upper, who can’t bear to see others in distress or have others mad at them, become fixer uppers. This comes out of a genuine heart to help others, but it can also be a symptom of fear – IF THEY ARE MAD, THEN I FEEL UNSAFE, IF I FIX THEM THEN I FEEL BETTER.
The Overachiever – They go, go, go, go, always trying to reach the top, always trying to be better, always trying to strive for the win – IF I AM NOT ON TOP, THEN I RISK REJECTION. This can be evident even in the religious overachiever, who strives to be the best Christian, the most devoted.
The Angry Man//Woman – I also believe anger is a symptom of depression, but it is also a symptom of anxiety. Anger is often an easier emotion to express than admitting fear, because anger gives us a sense of power in the moment. IF YOU MAKE ME FEEL LIKE I HAVE NO CONTROL THEN I WILL EXPLODE UNTIL I FEEL LIKE I HAVE MY POWER BACK.
This reminds me of the time my Aunt took my 4-year-old skiing for the first time (13 years ago). She gently pushed her down the bunny hill, and met her at the bottom to catch her. My fear-stricken 4-year-old, got to the bottom in one piece, but waddled up to my Aunt, who had outstretched arms to congratulate her – my daughter reached out her arms and smacked her! She was so livid, because she had been so afraid!
Apathy – “meh”- This is one of my default fear feelings. IF I CAN’T FACE MY FEARS, I WILL JUST SHUT DOWN MY ABILITY TO CARE. Many people who have battled with anxiety will eventually shut down, close the blinds and shrink away from life. I get this, because fear is exhausting, but what often seems like a person who doesn’t care, is usually a person who fears, a lot.
When we see ourselves exhibiting certain symptoms of fear, like controlling behavior, an intense need to fix and meddle, anger outbursts, or apathy, ask yourself “What am I afraid of?” Or if you see others in this state, ask them “what are you afraid of?”
What I know for certain about fear
We have to stop trying to rid ourselves of fear, it’s an exhausting endeavor that will never cease, a battle that will never be won, a fight that increases our risk of enslavement. We must learn to face our fears, embrace our fears, and accept them as we bravely respond in the opposite way our fear is telling us to go.
“We have to stop trying to rid ourselves of fear, it’s an exhausting endeavour that will never cease, a battle that will never be won, a fight that increases our risk of enslavement. We must learn to face our fears, embrace our fears, and accept them as we bravely respond in the opposite way our fear is telling us to go. “