If you’re captive of your past, living with an anxiety-filled present or dreading the future, then learning how to live fearlessly will set you free.
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” Mark Twain.
Anyone who has experienced an abusive relationship will know what it is like to be living in fear. Whether it’s physically, verbally or mental abuse, you learn to anticipate and react in a certain way. And when your worst fears are realised, you are made to believe it was your fault and you become uneasy of ‘the next time’.
Similarly, low self-esteem can make facing new situations, people or places a source of trepidation. Your mind fills with every negative scenario and statement imaginable. And this can spiral into a self-fulfilling prophesy of failure and rejection.
“We are afraid to care too much, for fear that the other person does not care at all.” Eleanor Roosevelt
As a child, my abandoning mum and my abusing dad had ensured that I learnt to never truly trust, attach or love anyone. I grew into adulthood believing everyone had the potential to harm me in some way or another. Alcohol gave me the courage to not care if, or more often, when they did.
My addiction was a direct result of not just an extreme apprehension of others but of an unnatural mistrust of myself. Complete lack of self-worth meant that I would do anything to numb the feelings of inadequacy. Convinced that my values, instincts and intelligence were inferior to everyone else fed into my foreboding of defeat and ridicule.
Whether real or imagined, fear controlled my life and my life was out of control.
“Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Confronting my addiction and starting on the path to recovery was quite simply the most terrifying period of my life. It meant redefining my concept of fear and changing my perception of myself and others. And that wasn’t an easy choice to make, but it was totally necessary if I was going to be free to live my life as the person I was meant to be.
I worked hard to develop the courage to accept, trust and love myself. But as I did I was able to find the strength to confront and challenge fear. I would remind myself “If you’re afraid to do it, do it afraid.”
It doesn’t mean that I don’t get scared. In fact I’m still a cautious person who finds it hard to take risks. And everyday situations like meeting new people still make me nervous. But I am no longer captive to fear and its negative consequences.
Today I don’t fight the fear. I welcome it in the form of excitement and anticipation. I rise above it and use it as motivation. I go through it and come out the other side stronger.
For me that is living a life fearless and free. What about you? Are you fearless and free?