by Eric Payne
A few months ago I was sitting in church, not totally paying attention, when I softly spoke the following assertion out loud to no one in particular:
“I’m no longer afraid.”
Now the interesting thing about this quiet self-confession was that I didn’t know I was afraid of anything other than werewolves, Dracula, devil movies, hyenas, anyone with a gun pointed at me, a pride of lions and unchained pit bulls.
But there I was quietly confessing my fear of everything. And I do mean everything — of not having enough, of having too much, of making the wrong decision, of acting out in anger, of appearing to be weak, of making a mistake, of living in vain, of being alone, of being lonely, of looking left, of looking right, of the thoughts of others, of stepping out on faith, of stepping out on anything.
Fear Is the Mind-Killer
As a husband and a parent it is easy to fear. Fear, like faith, will bring about and/or attract an outcome — the worst one. And you can’t afford that, whether you are a husband or a wife, a father or a mother, or some combination of the two. When the well being of others is on the line, a man cannot allow himself to be ruled by his fears. But that doesn’t mean the fear shouldn’t be acknowledged at all.
The problem for men lies in fear itself. Men naturally don’t believe they fear anything other than cataclysmic stuff. And if they do they spend a tremendous amount of mental energy convincing themselves and everyone around them they don’t have a fear gene. Or, they sometimes compensate in other ways — working out until their necks disappear, purchasing gigantic gas guzzling SUVs to be the baddest thing on the road and the block, striving to be the loudest and most fearsome person in the room, etc.
I’ll argue that a man would rather be diagnosed psychotic than viewed as fearful. It goes against the “man-code.” But fear is real and it exists in all of us, most importantly as a defense mechanism to keep us safe from danger. This type of fear is healthy. It keeps you alive. But fear will also take the shape in a whole host of negative thoughts: from believing you aren’t good enough (so you overdo it with designer everything thinking you can purchase your approval), to believing that you will never find love (so you trick yourself into believing you don’t need or want it), to believing you can’t get the job done (so you don’t try at all for fear of failing). All these beliefs will paralyze your mind, body and soul and bring emotional and sometimes physical death to you and the people closest to you. But because these fears are based in your beliefs and not reality, you can tell your fears to hit the road.
Change Your Beliefs
The easiest way to overcome fear is to face it. Pray for the strength, wisdom and opportunity to overcome your fear(s). You might also want to confess it to someone who loves you or a true and trusted friend. This is easier said than done when so many of us in the married lane know that letting a woman know your fears can sometimes be like throwing gasoline on a fire. But a confession is great and may do plenty to clear the air. Find a family member if you don’t believe you can share this with your spouse. Another option is to run (not walk) up to that thing, situation, person, whatever it is you are afraid of and simply address it. If you are scared of water because you don’t know how to swim an easy solution is to invest in swim lessons, private ones if necessary. If you relationship is collapsing and can see this with your own eyes and you want to work it out, stop waiting for the promotion to take your wife to dinner or on that dream vacation – just take her out and don’t think you’re gonna end up on skid row because of it. A divorce will cost a lot more in the end. Stop waiting for the right time to take a family vacation, or better stated, stop fearing that now isn’t the right time. Stop looking for the home that will impress your friends. Find the home your family can live in and create your charmed life right inside your four walls. While you’re at it stop fearing that you won’t impress your friends. If they truly are your friends they should be accepting and supporting you no matter what. Stop thinking you have to be superman in order to be the man you were intended to be. Just be a man — keep your word, honor your responsibilities and hold fast to your convictions.
By facing what you fear you’ll find that the fear was unwarranted because in most cases the situation existed more in your head than it ever did in reality. There is too much to live for to live in fear. To initially be afraid is human. But you’ve got to move on with your life.
BMWK have you encountered paralyzing fear in your life? How have you or how have you not dealt with it?
Follow Eric on Facebook and Twitter. He is the author of DAD: As Easy As A, B, C! coming this Fathers Day 2011, and has written the articles Investing In An Emotional Letdown and the now infamous, My Wife Is NOT My Friend (on Facebook). He keeps it candid about being a man, dad and husband on his blog, Makes Me Wanna Holler.com.