Sunday, March 07, 2010

The fight against fear

"Failure is an option but fear is not" -James Cameron

All my life I have struggled to talk to people. As a young child my parents were worried because I would not speak. By my parents account, I was a late talker since I didn't start talking until I was three years old. They even went to a Chinese opera theatre (specifically the Fujian kind, Gaojia) and asked the performers for some food. They gave it to me to eat because of a superstition that it would help me talk.

When I was eight years old, friends of my sister were over at our house. One of them exclaimed, "He talks. He talks!" My sister's friend apparently thought I was mute, or something to that extent. I am a relatively silent person to most people I don't know. As to how much of that constitutes as shyness and how much as just fear is what I have most of life trying to figure out. It may sound ridiculous, and I'll concede the concept is, that I psycho-analyze myself. The question is though that even if I am aware of it, why am I not able to surpass my fear of talking.

It is a constant struggle dealing with my situation to overcome the paralysis that my fear creates. There is definitely shyness and maybe some fear of embarrassment, but there is also one part a fear of the unknown. Sometimes I have something to say and I am vocalizing in my mind, but no sound comes out.

I used to be afraid of the world. Everything was a threat. I held it in. Man up. Don't be afraid. Don't let them see you're afraid. And you won't be. Hide your fears. Unfortunately for me, this is and was self-destructive. By holding it all in, I merely empowered my fears. My silence manifested into fears of trying things. I was bullied when I was younger and I held it all in. I never screamed out my anger and it created a deep hatred in my soul.

The difference between realization and real-ization
It starts as a small doubt. A small annoyance. A small fear.
A shadow waits in your mind like a tiger stalking ready to pounce. Waiting. Seething. Grinning.

The failure to acknowledge its existence is the instant it becomes real. Ignoring it only feeds it to grow; flourishing every time you choose to disregard it. 

 A small doubt. A terror of heights. A momentary dread of talking. A flash of anger. A burst of restrained grief. All these glimmers of doubt and fear controlled and then repressed into the mind as bottled emotions.

These small instances blossom into fully developed irrational phobias, a complete and utter hatred of someone or something, or a terrible sorrow that holds the heart and the mind captive in the grasp of the shadows of doubt.

This is what happens every time you fail to real-ize a doubt. You have to make it real by saying it out loud. To vocalize it. If you hold it in your thoughts and deny yourself its power, you only cause the doubt to bloom into a behemoth of incalculable fear in your heart.

Understanding its existence is insufficient to dissipate its power. Only once you have said it out loud can you truly defeat it and remove its hold over your thoughts. There is a natural resistance to expressing ourselves and that is partly why there is so much suffering. We hold each doubt in our hearts like caged beasts. Ignoring it like animals in a zoo. They lie in wait clawing at the bars of its prison until your mind fractures. Then it feasts on your anger. Your hatred. Your insecurities. It will break you from the inside out.

This is why in the Harry Potter series, Lord Voldemort holds so much power even with his name. People fear saying his name, and in doing so, the people empower the fear even more.

Facing your fears
Most of the time, our fears hold us hostage. This is mostly due to the fact that we have not given the fear a physical form or thought. It is incorporeal in our mind and shapeless, and thus unassailable.

Instead of just focusing on the fact that your fear is making you miserable, list out the facts that you can think of that define the fear. Most of the time, if you can assess the actual root of the fear, the fear itself does not look as immense as before. This is required for you to define the wall in front of you and gives you a better idea of how to climb over it. If you try to avoid the thought and resist addressing the wall right in front of you, you prevent yourself from seeing yourself on the other side of the obstacle.

Conquering the fear
I couldn't function normally in high school for the most part. Depression set in and I didn't want to talk. I was a walking cloud of gloom-and-doom. In order for me to be free, eventually I had to let all the pain in my heart go somehow. My outlet came to me in poetry. I wrote all my sorrows and misfortune into verses of pure expressive grief. When I read the words out loud, I released all the years of confined doubt and emotions. 

To not speak its nature. To hold your breath. Is to open your heart to darkness. Speak its name.  And hold your flame to its face and tell it that you do not fear it. Only then shall you conquer your doubts.

Expressing your fears and getting it out into the world will instantly resolve fears for some, but not for all. However, the importance is in releasing it from its jar so it does not keep building pressure, imaginary or otherwise. By expelling it, you have given it a form that you can now face instead of a mere essence that looms around your heart.

The next time doubts arise in your mind. Before they have the strength to gather a storm, describe it and it shall be gone. To conquer your fears, you must define them.

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