Have you dealt with fear successfully?


#1

I’ve come to the conclusion that much of spiritual inertia and sloth is caused by fear.
By fear I am meaning a generally fearful personality with excessive self concern that does not allow me to move forward the way God is calling me to:
how others perceive me
fear of measuring up
fear of letting people down
fear of failure especially with social situations
unjustified expectations that things will turn out badly

I’ve come to the conclusion that fear had become a sort of idol in my life and is enslaving me, preventing me from doing God’s will. It’s something that, when it creeps in, I latch on to and embrace instead of rejecting it, almost is perverse sort of way.
Fear and timidity control my life.

I now see it and would like to understand it from those who have dealt with it.


#2

I have not dealt with it but it sounds like your fear is emotional. It will require time, work and grace to overcome it. Pray for confidence and trust. For the one who trusts in God does not live afraid.


#3

Fear is a common motivator for good and ill.
Maybe we should only fear failure to be pleasing to God.

The ego fears, the little ‘I’ so this is the seat of the issue. If the locus of attention can become God, God within you, abiding within and seeking to appease God rather than your own ego you can mitigate fear in the ways which you describe.

We do have a good example to follow, the Good Lord who stated that He had overcome the world. How did He do that? We can try to follow Him and aspire to emulate how He overcame the world I think.

We remove ‘I’ as far as possible, we remove ‘want’ as far as possible and what we have left is perhaps… no fear.


#4

You have to use logic, discernment and will…in that order, to overcome it.

Let the fear work for you. Let it be your cue that some logic and discernment are called for. Let it be a notice that something you desire may slip away. Of course, discernment is important here. Not everything that makes you fearful is worth doing even if it seems like there is no harm in it. Just take little steps at a time. One thing at a time. You don’t need to be going out and saving the world. Just make an effort to do something. It’s just like any other skill, it takes time to get comfortable with deciding what and when to do something.


#5

I have dealt with extreme forms of fear for much of my adult life. As a sufferer from panic and anxiety attacks I have known fear to control my life and pretty much everything I did. I am now fully recovered, as much as this is possible medically speaking, and no longer fear the crowds, the driving, or the social situations. But I find that not fearing them does not mean I now enjoy them. No, I continue to be very much a withdrawn and private person and I don’t like to drive if I can get there by walking.

Here is something else to add to the conversation. This type of fear is an exaggeration of a very sensitive personality. Some of us want to have as little social contact as possible and thrive best when left alone. We will be extremely sensitive to criticism, experience a dreadful sense of shame when we let down the family or the boss, and terrible feelings of guilt and a fear of the consequences of failing to meet a certain standard. These I continue to live with. The only thing I have found works is to try calming myself with the reassurance that most comments are not meant to be as wounding as I interpret them. I have to understand on a daily basis that I am going to feel emotional things much more acutely than the average person. There was an incident at work last week where an inventory error I had made was discovered (by me). The ramifications of this were minor but it took more than two days for me to get over it. As with many things, all we can often do is let time pass and do our best not to be too harsh with ourselves.


#6

There is nothing wrong with fear. What’s important is how you deal with it. Courage is knowing what you need to do despite the fear you have. Fear can be a motivator or a roadblock. Consider the consequences if you let fear stop you every time you get nervous about something. Consider the possibilities if you accomplish things despite your fears. Typically the rewards outweigh the fears if you’re honest with yourself. If you fail at something, try again with what you’ve learned. God. Bless!


#7

God bless you :pray:


#8

I don’t want to labour the point but I do.

Firstly social anxieties can be mitigated in several ways but the root of it is over-focussing on yourself. So what if when you go into social situations you are acting as an agent of God? God is with you and you are to act and speak in ways which are pleasing to him, as a representative of God, He hears you, He will guide your words through the Holy Spirit, you can rely on Him.

Secondly what’s the worst that can happen should ‘they’ detect a flaw in you? Will they stone you? Seems unlikely at a parish dinner. catastrophising is an exaggeration, if something is awful aren’t we taught to thank God for the opportunity for spiritual growth and to ask Him for support? So then He will help and if not you will endure it and grow perhaps.

These solutions I’m talking about cover the kinds of fears that the Op was describing, but with enough faith they can help in many circumstances I think. As a disclaimer, I don’t suppose Ive every had an original thought in my life, so these and any ideas are likely someone else’s.


#9

I would much rather try something, even if there is the possibility of failure. Failure is only failure when you give up.

I learned this from my daughter who has suffered with epilepsy for the last thirty five years. She can go out and collapse in town without any warning, she has suffered many injuries over the years; but she still goes out.


#10

You might try going to a therapist. If you are in the US, your diocese probably has therapists through a sliding fee (depending on income) through the Catholic Charities office.

The problem is that we develop bad habits of thinking and therapists can help us change that.

I have a (possibly bad) habit of looking at some of the bad things people do and they still have friends and family. Like I saw a wife just call her husband an idiot and they are still together. And I am quite friendly with someone at work who can totally freak out with anger, but I know he needs friends to help with that, so I always try to be nice to him and we have some good conversations.

Watching these things helps me have a more balanced idea of how people actually work, so is helpful to me.


#11

I don’t necessarily encourage or discourage this because I admit it is a little eccentric :slight_smile:

… there was a point in my life when I was particularly snagged up on fears. I sat down to a Word document and wrote my own pretend eulogy, as if I were to suddenly and unexpectedly die next week. I talked about all the intentions I had that never came about, all the risks I didn’t take and all the steps I didn’t take, and how none of it mattered now because my life was over. And then I wrote up a sad and touching concluding paragraph about a life half-lived. I printed it out and sat it next to my bed for the next several days.

It helped a lot.

But yeah, conquering fear is a process and it involves re-patterning negative thinking over and over again. It gradually becomes less powerful. Love conquers fear.


#12

I think at least some of this fear is very common. A lot of people are driven by social fears of one type or another. It takes considerable courage to be a person of faith in a faith-less environment, to be, for example, pro-life in a time when people around you are not. I don’t have much courage in such situations but I pray for it. As far as I know the best remedy is prayer to the Holy Spirit. Remember the apostles locked in the upper room with the door barred “for fear.” Then comes the Holy Spirit and they literally tumble out and can’t wait to loudly proclaim the things of God! Completely transformed. I also pray over Jesus’ statement, “Fear is useless; what is needed is trust.” Keep praying and trusting.


#13

Reading our post immediately made me think of theLitany of Humility, which has been a great consolation for me.

It is human nature to want all these things, and to fear that we will not have them. I think the healing comes in relinquishing them all to God.

1 John 4:18

There is no fear in love , but perfect love casts out fear ; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fear s has not reached perfect ion in love .

I think the answer is to become perfected in His love.


#14

Every time I talk to an attractive woman, I overcome fear, every time I make a good confession, I overcome fear. Fear isn’t the problem, I’m afraid of heights, but I love mountains. I overcome that fear because of the good that comes from it not overcoming me.


#15

By doing what I have to do even if I feel afraid.
And keep doing it over and over again.


#16

Wow I can’t believe you brought up litany of humility. I pray it every morning. A priest gave it to me in the confessional a few years ago.

The fears that I suffer always result from calculation.
Always looking at something and calculating self worth in relation to it. The goodness of others leads to envy, or a sadness for my perceived lack.

I’ve had counseling in the past for depression and anxiety, and it helped for sure. Medication did not. Although when you haven’t slept well three days in a row, a Benadryl does hit the spot.
What has healed me slowly is Jesus Christ. When I reverted, I thought “wow this is great, this is it”. And then you discover there’s much much more to being a disciple. It’s just like marriage: it’s wonderful, and at the same time, the one you are intimate with uncovers your deepest faults and fears. So with Christ.

Yes it’s hard to love when you are attached to fear. And that’s what it is, an attachment. Not much different than lust or anger being attachments.

I heard a great homily today on this ironically.
“What if the prisoners were rescued from a dungeon in a raid, and the prisoners stood there dumbly staring at the light of freedom, too afraid to move?”
Yea. Fear has no real power over us, yet we allow it to keep us from loving.
God help us to leave it behind and step forward trusting in you.


#17

Fear is weariness of loosing a good.

What good do you stand to loose that originates fear?


#18

Honor, Affirmation. Status. Not like politics or fame or adoration. Not in that way.
Good standing in my parish, approval of my pastor, my friends, even worrying about the approval of my wife and family.
And it all stems from calculation. Adding up my merits, judging my standing. Am I being a faithful disciple. Good husband. Calculation is not very satisfying. The embarassment of mistakes or social faux pauxs is unbearable. The replay in the mind and cause anxiety.
It’s unreasonable. But at least now I know it’s there and can stare it in the face.


#19

When I read this it seems your focus is too much on yourself. Focusing on the love of God, doing Christ’s work, and serving others should be your focus. Pray for humility and guidance from the Holy Spirit to change your focus and the fear of failure will go away.


#20

That shouldn’t be excessive to the point of bothering you into anxiety, try taking this easy. Unless you are under a lot of social pressure.

This is, IMHO, not the best wording. Following OT terminology: social esteem, good reputation, a good name, in good standing, are more adequate and generally praised as good. Thing being, gossip and backbiting will probe to hurt you there. But regarding those little can be done except keeping a good conscience, and an amicable dealing in so far as possible. Within the parish you should worry less about those, since it can be expected -to some degree- from good catholic that they don’t engage in detraction.

I sense from you posting you might be overdoing it in worrying so much. Try separating professional/social from parish community and family since the latter tend to be more easygoing and less unforgiving. And try to take it easy mate…

Brilliant expression from the French. Don’t do it. Normally the faux pauxs comes from folks that just don’t have a lot of practice at playing the social game. Or that are somewhat different within an overwhelmingly normative social context. Best thing is: avoid temptation at being noticed by way of modesty and handle interactions by way of thankful humility. Things should be worth in themselves, in their simplicity. Find that value and settle at that, for now.


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