It’s a simple question. What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Assuming that we’re all a little afraid of some things in life – this question can force us to consider our limitations and vulnerabilities as well as how we live. Fear of course, is a normal part of life, even adaptive in many conditions. But does it play a part in holding us back? Perhaps you’re not at all afraid, of anything much – in that case I suppose you fearless warriors are attempting to give all your goals and aspirations a shot and great for you! But, for the rest of us – I wonder what the answer to this question might be.
I suppose it all depends on our definition of ‘afraid’. Your definition could possible include the following:
unwilling or reluctant to do something for fear of the consequences.
- Do we as individuals in the mental health community (and any other community come to it!) fear judgement? Does this perhaps limit our scope in being open and even acting on our hopes and aspirations?
- Falling (in my case – spending intense episodes in hospital following crisis) can be extremely challenging emotionally. I often wonder if it has affected my belief in my ability to succeed when I return to the community? From experience, life is always much slower and more difficult when I return from hospital. Once bitten, twice shy.
- Do we fear failing?
Failing is never easy, but it can provide a valuable learning curve and even make us stronger. We also know that fear of failure can be undeniably detrimental to our ability to strive and make positive / crucial steps forward. In a perfect world, we’d all have the courage to fail and the resilience to recover, but life can sometimes mean that such endeavours are pretty much impossible. Fear for some of us can feel as a protective factor – actively safeguarding us from the sometimes, harmful effects of failure. But when does this safeguarding and protection become detrimental to our own emotional and practical growth and development? This to a certain extent will be dependant on how failure has impacted us in the past.
Faith and Fear
Perhaps one secret to transcending, even overcoming fear at a certain level is to put greater weight on the faith we have in ourselves, a word often attributed to religion and spiritual growth. But what about personal growth? Don’t we all owe it to ourselves to possess complete trust and / or confidence in our own ability? Could faith in our own ability help us conquer fear at a certain level? As I see it, faith has one real enemy, and that is self-esteem (confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect) – specifically, low personal self-esteem. Low self-esteem seems to be evident in so many mental health disorders. I have struggled with low self-esteem for a long while and working on this issue has been difficult. If only a prescription or pill could sort that it all out! What we of course know, is that lack of self-esteem in individuals can be a deep routed / complex issue. It can of course be worked on, but it takes time and in my case, it’s very much, work in progress.
So, What would I do if I weren’t afraid? I don’t think I’d want to break any records or achieve the impossible. I think that what I’d ultimately like to do is to have faith in tomorrow – conquering the cruel limitation that Depression has burdened me with, that each day might be my last.
Courage and Fear
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear
– Nelson Mandela