Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
The past two weeks have been tough.
With the benefit of hindsight, Mary Beth and I can trace the beginning of this difficult period back to 1995 when my wife injured her back while lifting a photocopier.
Since then, her back hasn’t been the same.
Last November she reinjured it and sought relief through physical therapy. But with the herniated disk putting pressure on her sciatic nerve, no amount of therapy or pain medication was providing relief.
Life’s Surprise Attacks
After watching my wife give birth to our children and surviving brain surgery, the pain she experienced the past two weeks was more intense than any thing I’ve witnessed before.
After two trips to the emergency room, three days of hospitalized pain management, Mary Beth underwent emergency surgery last week to remove the impingement on the nerve. She is slowing coming back, but the fear is still lingering.
Fearful thoughts like: What if the nerve damage is permanent? What if at 47 years old, her activity becomes too restricted? What if we’ll never dance again? hover over us.
The past two weeks have not only been tough, they’ve also been a reminder that the things we fear the most have the ability to launch a surprise attack with no warning. This setback has been a tough reminder that Mary Beth and I still need to face our fears. It doesn’t matter how much love we share, life experiences we overcome, or faith we lean on because life can still surprise us in the blink of an eye.
It’s our responsibility to find the courage to keep doing the things we are meant to do – no matter the obstacles.
What about you?
Are you willing to begin now, to find the courage to do all the things you were meant to do – no matter the obstacles? Even though I’m trying to find my footing once again, I will rely on these tips to continue facing my fears. I hope you find strength and comfort in these tips, too:
- Decide it’s worth it. Make the decision that you’re going to conquer your fear at whatever cost.
- Do it for the confidence. Think of the added self-esteem you’ll gain when you overcome a challenge that you’ve faced for years and never thought you’d beat.
- Be the inspiration for others. If you can face your fear and do new things and continue to live on purpose, you’ll encourage others who face similar fears.
- You’ve got to do something new and a little scary to get something you’ve never had. Achieving your goals will eventually go hand in hand with facing your fears, but if you step up and accept the challenge, you’ll get something you’ve always wanted.
- Think of what you will gain. The rewards that await you for facing your fears range from a boost in self-confidence to gaining a new skill or asset to feeling more value about yourself. You can’t put a price on that.
- Draw on previous experience. Can you think of a time in the past where you faced your fears? How did you feel? Let that image and its feelings be an inspiration to tackle your current fear.
- It’s in you. Right now. The courage, the discipline, the fortitude. You CAN face your fears and overcome any obstacle in front of you. The power is there; just believe in it.
- Fear is just a feeling. It’s something we often don’t feel as young children. Not until we’re taught, not until we fail, not until we get hurt. But it’s just a feeling, and feelings don’t have to rule you.
- What’s the worst that could happen? Many of the fears we face to get something we want don’t involve life-threatening situations. You’re only going to come out of this stronger. Even if you make a mistake at first, you’re a step closer than you were before.
- Start doing. Sometimes, you have to stop thinking and start doing. You won’t always have time to over-analyze and prepare in your mind before facing your fear. Sometimes, you’ll just have to jump right in and do it.
- Create a motto. Use a famous quote or make up your own and post it on a sticky note for you to see. Say it to yourself when you’re feeling anxious and repeat it when you’re about to face your fear.
- Facing your fears doesn’t mean that you’re not afraid. It’s important to remember that just because you take on a challenge, doesn’t mean you’re no longer afraid. It means that you’re taking on the thing that scares you, despite your feelings.
- You’re strong enough. No matter where you feel that you’ve failed or how scared you might feel, you are strong enough for this. It takes courage to face your fears, yes, but your hesitation doesn’t mean you can’t handle it. You can do this!
- You’ll be glad you did. Think of the relief you’ll feel. The joy you’ll experience. The new-found position or benefits you’ll gain from facing your fears! It will make it all worth it.
- Live in the moment. You can’t plan out every minute of the day in order to avoid uncertainties and unpleasant experiences. You’re only taking away from your ability to have fun and enjoy your life! Let go and learn to appreciate the moment for what it is; you’ll be happier and a lot less afraid, surprisingly.
Life as Normal
Life is slowly creeping back to normal. Normal in the sense there haven’t been any more ambulance rides to the hospital or IVs dripping relief into my wife.
But fear is still hanging around.
Mary Beth is just one sneeze away or one awkward movement away from being back to where she was. So, our plan is to use common sense, limit heavy lifting and face our fears the best we can.