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How To Face & Overcome Fear (as a man)

Fear of the Dark
Photo Credit: Stuant63

I was sitting in church yesterday, 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 confession to self is that nothing provoked it and even more interesting...I didn't know I was afraid of anything other than werewolves, Dracula, devil movies, wolves, 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.

In my little circle of friends I used to be known as an almost brazen risk taker and someone I know fell in love with me for my fearlessness. But fear has all but neutralized me and filled me with self-doubt and perpetual wonder of "what if?" and "why?" It has wreaked havoc on my mind putting me in pursuit of making the perfect decision that will merit the perfect outcome. But as we all should know there is no such thing as perfect. And in my pursuit of perfect --- the perfect church, the perfect house, the perfect wedding, the perfect job, the perfect answer, etc. --- I've been unable to make crucial decisions that never required perfection - just action. Now and for some time actually, that someone who fell in love with me is no longer sure I'm who SHE thought I was. And from all outward appearances, I guess I've come across like I'm not too sure either.

Fear Is the Mind-Killer

"Where did the fear begin?" was my first question to myself yesterday after this discovery. Because for all the damage that has been done in my life and the lives of others, it couldn't have possibly started recently. So I thought and thought until an unlikely answer came to me: the news of my daughter's conception.

Sure I handled it like a champ in the end. I even handled it like a champ about a week after I got the news about 3 months in. But when I first first FIRST found out I was going to be a biological father I was scared completely out of my mind. Obviously, I made the decision to move forward and do what I was supposed to do for a whole variety of reasons and here I am today, Man, Dad, Husband. But the seeds of fear were deeply planted and nourished with every approaching uncertainty, took root as my love for my daughter grew, and flourished as my sunfire desire for her and the rest of my family to live a wonderful life took hold of my soul. So all along through every triumph and every tribulation, fear has been there, lurking and jumping at the chance to paralyze me at every turning point, at every decision. It's been there all along seeping from one area of my life and slowly but surely permeating all the rest. Being a full fledged parent and husband along with an unhealthy dose of unemployment has made me fearful instead of making me prudent and cautious and still a little risky. The fear goes deeper still --- back into my childhood, but that story will have to wait until I can truly make sense of it.

Fortunately I've faced and overcome fear before and know how to deal. The mantra (put into action) below has worked wonders for me.

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when my fear is gone I will turn and face fear's path, and only I will remain.*

*Dune, 1984.

As a parent it is easy to fear. But fear, like faith will bring about and/or attract an outcome --- the worst one. And you can't afford that, neither as man nor woman, with mouths to feed and a spouse to love.

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 trick themselves out of the notion. For the longest I thought I was angry or depressed. And I'll argue that a man would rather be diagnosed psychotic than fearful. It goes against the man-code. Whatever the hell that is. But fear is real and it's not just the stuff that comes up when you're in danger. This type of fear is healthy. It keeps you alive. The fear that just sits with you as you wake and sleep is the kind that really needs to go bye-bye. It will paralyze your mind, body and soul and bring death to you and the people closest to you. In my case, I stopped being able to decide (mind), I gained weight (body) and because of the first two I abandoned my spiritual growth and that of my family's (soul).

No more.

Fear Go Bye-Bye

The easiest way to face your fear, is not the first thing that might come to mind --- confessing or announcing it to someone you love. A confession is great and may do plenty to clear the air but it is only the beginning. The best thing to do is to run up to that thing, situation, whatever it is you are afraid of and simply address it, one step and one day at a time. Stop waiting for the perfect time to take your wife to dinner - just take her and don't think you're gonna be on skid row if she orders Surf & Turf (not to be ordered at every dinner). Stop waiting for a bonus to take a family vacation - just use the money you have - a way will be provided, stop looking for a perfect home - find a home your family can live in and create your community starting right inside your four walls, and so on. Stop thinking you have to be superman in order to be the man you were intended to be. Your partner/spouse's knight in shining armor is a whole lot less shiny than the knight you believe you have to be. More than likely they just love(d) you for your authentic self.

By facing what you fear you'll find that the fear was unwarranted because the situation is non-existent in reality even if it was present in your mind. Enjoy life! Don't be afraid. There is too much to live for to live in fear. Don't be afraid.

Acknowledge your fears. Face your fears.
Fight your fears. Watch your fears disappear. Live life.

Stay tuned for more on fear this week as I blog further about absentee father-dom on Wednesday, September 22nd for the No Wedding, No Womb bloggers' initiative.

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