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Face your fears head-on

 How to face your fears head-on (Photo: iStock)

Phobia is the Greek word for fear which refers to panic that is completely out of proportion to the perceived threat behind it. Fear has a paralysing effect on people and we all fear something.

For instance, fear of failure keeps people from trying anything risky; fear of rejection makes people afraid of doing anything that would draw criticism or ridicule. Yet, anything that is worthwhile and living by faith requires taking some risk; getting married, taking up a job, having a baby or starting a business

Many fears will confront you whenever you embark on a journey to achieve something significant. There are at least 322 unique phobias that have been identified. Bertrand Russell says, “Fear is the main source of superstition and a form of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.” Miguel de Cervantes says, “Fear has many eyes and can see things underground.”

Nelson Mandela says, “The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid but he who conquers that fear.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt says, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Examples of fear: Achluphobia/scotophobia - fear of darkness. Agliophobia - fear emotional and physical pain. Agrizoophobia - fear of wild animals. Altophobia - fear of heights. Cacophobia - fear of ugliness. Cancerphobia/carcinophobia - fear of Cancer.  Decidophobia - fear of making a decision. Genophobia - fear of sex or sexual intimacy. Gynophobia - dislike or fear of woman. Hominophobia/androphobia/arrhenphobia - Fear of men. Ecclesiophobia -fear of churches. Atychiphobia - fear of failure.

The single command in scripture that is frequently repeated is ‘fear not’. The reason is that people use fear to avoid doing what God asks them to do. Unfortunately, you block your dream when you allow fear to grow bigger than your faith. Extreme cases of fear can result in escalated anxiety and full-fledged panic attacks.

“Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; yes I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid nor be dismayed; for the Lord God is with you whenever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and sound mind” (2nd Timothy 1:7). “The fear of man brings a snare; but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25). “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God will go with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

The book of Exodus records how the Israelites left Egypt where they had been slaves for many years. There were mountains on both sides; the Red Sea ahead; and behind them was Pharaoh’s army racing after them. They were afraid, scared stiff, apprehensive and in consternation. They based their faith on the surroundings which spelt doom. They were so engrossed in it that they lost sight of where God had promised to take them - Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey.

Fear typically has four ramifications on us. First, it makes us sceptical, doubtful and to ask many questions. The Israelites sarcastically asked Moses if there were no graves in Egypt so that he brought them out to die in the dessert.

Second, it causes us to be selfish by excusing ourselves, accusing and blaming others for our predicament. When griped by fear one tends to focus on themselves and their needs. The Israelites asked Moses what he had done to them by bringing them out of Egypt.

Third, it causes us to be stubborn, resist change and want to maintain the status quo. The Israelites told Moses that they had asked him while in Egypt to leave them alone to serve the Egyptians. When afraid, people tend to reason ‘I have never done it that way before’ or ‘this will rock my boat.’ In relationships, people fear to make a move because they are afraid of being hurt again. Fourth, it causes us to be short sighted and relive the past experiences. Fear makes us go backwards, retreat, turn around and go to back to a place where came from.

God instructed Moses to tell the Israelites to let go of their fear; look up to God for salvation; and launch out in faith by continuing with the journey to the Promised Land. How do you overcome fear in your life?

Move forward by doing the very thing you fear most and do not let anything or anyone derail you from fulfilling your destiny. Learn to take small steps that will help you reduce your fear or discomfort. Get concrete positive motivations by reading the word of God and focusing on promises that counter your fear.

Have a different perception of failure and rejection by making improvements and trying again. Choose to be in the ‘now’ by refusing to let your mind remain stuck in past or worrying about the future. This does not mean having no plans; rather, that you organise your actions and intensions within your capabilities.

Finally, surrender to the will of God including the difficult situations and you will discover that he has your best interests at heart.

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