Fear.  The very word can speed up the adrenaline and heart.

There are two types of fear: healthy and unhealthy.

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Healthy fear is like the red light on your dashboard saying “Hey! Something isn’t right, here.”  It helps us recognize unsafe situations or people so we can protect ourselves or others.  Unfortunately, we sometimes ignore healthy fear because we worry about offending someone or being judged as weak.  (A child screams in the parking lot and we are afraid for her safety, but we worry about wrongly accusing someone of kidnapping.)

Unhealthy fear is unreasonable worry that affects our day-to-day lives.  Our lives are not in probable danger, but we obsess over the possibility.  (Even though we have a secure job and home, we fret constantly about money.)

I’ve noticed sometimes we’re afraid of experiencing something; failure, germs, death, or a robbery.  Then again, sometimes we’re afraid of not experiencing something; financial security, love, graduation, or acceptance.

Fear of any type often leads to an assortment of cover-up behaviors; being judgmental, controlling, angry, and resentful.  Ultimately these behaviors contribute to a lifetime of pain and unrealized dreams.

Fear is just another coping mechanism to cover deeper emotions. 

The good news about unhealthy fear is we can overcome it. 

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Here are some basic steps for overcoming unhealthy fear:

1. Pray
Seek God’s guidance on the journey you are about to embark on.
 

2. Acknowledge it
Say it out loud to yourself, write it down, tell someone safe.  I’m afraid of (fill in the blank.)

3.  Appreciate it
Recognize your fear has done a good job of protecting you from other difficult emotions.  Tell your fear you appreciate how it’s helped you, but it’s time for a new, healthier way of coping.

4. Confront it
Seek outside help, and consider professional help.  This is not an overkill suggestion, because we cannot cure ourselves.  We were not created to be self-sufficient.  It may take anywhere from weeks to months to years to find out the root cause of your fear, but we need someone outside of ourselves to help us do it.

5. Let it go
As you process the unrecognized emotions masked with the fear, you will be able to let fear go. There may be a period of grieving because change feels like loss sometimes. That’s okay.

6. Celebrate
Your new freedom deserves celebration! 

My fear of heights affected what route I took driving.  It was an unreasonable fear to think the bridge would collapse or I’d fall off.  As I worked through the underlying issues, though, my fear of heights dissipated.  I wrote about this here.

It was a difficult journey, but I the rewards far outweighed the challenges.  I learned much about myself in the process.  And the greatest thing of all is I can truly say I’m not afraid of bridges, flying, or looking out the windows of tall buildings anymore. 

Freedom from unhealthy fear will change your life!

 

How about you?  What fears do you have or have you conquered?

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