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Defining our Relationship with Fear: Lessons in Self-Mastery

Updated: Aug 28, 2022

It’s complicated.

A concise summary of the relationship we often carry with fear.

While fear is sometimes considered as an adaptive response, this is not always the case.

Sometimes, what makes fear helpful is also what makes it hurtful.

The difference, heavily reliant on circumstance and hardly ever clear-cut.

Hence the complication.

Especially in those scenarios where fear that was once useful, is now, or now stands to be, a hindrance.

It’s not black or white. On one hand, responding appropriately to our fears contributes to our ability to survive against the odds. On the other hand, if we only align our actions to accommodate fear, we stand to miss out on opportunities to thrive. In that sense, it’s hard to know if our fear-based response is liberating or limiting.

A double-edged sword.

So, we seek to find balance.

Life presents us with opportunities to manage self, while focusing on the best possible outcomes, in response to what scares us.

In time, we learn that life rarely rewards a tunnelled vision approach.

When we become blind to anything that is not in direct relation to the object of our fears. Allowing what scares us to become so consuming, we inadvertently leave ourselves exposed to other forms of risk. Vulnerable to harm in ways we might have anticipated, if our focus was not so singular.

In the same breath, we also learn that life rarely rewards the imprudently gallant.

Those who are undeterred by their fears, overestimating their ability to push through all of life’s hurdles and obstacles, with a naive predilection concerning the power of positivity.

We have each, at some point, represented both sides of this coin.

Though with each experience, developing an awareness of the consequences that come with being too focused; as well as the consequences that stem from being naive and inexperienced.

Through trial and error, learning how much is too much and how little, too little.

Much of navigating life, is seeking mastery over ourselves in response to our fears.

Self-mastery develops when the focus is on moderation. Learning the art of moderation, in changing and evolving circumstances, is about becoming nimble and flexible in our responses. As we stumble between tunnel vision and imperceptiveness, we are learning how to trust ourselves.

Through the trials and errors, cultivating as much of an awareness of what to do moving forward, as much as what not to do, again.

To think — reframing fear as an opportunity to trust oneself.

Not our fears, but the decisions we make in relation to them.

Understanding that sometimes we need to face what scares us, as much as it is the case that we need to retreat.

Distinguishing courage from cowardice.

Trusting ourselves to choose courage.

Recognizing that self-mastery involves mastery over what scares us.

Cultivating a healthy relationship with our fears not only involves being aware and being responsive, but also not allowing our fears to hold us hostage.

So, the next time an opportunity arises that requires you to face a fear…

Face it.

Through the apprehension, trust yourself, especially when it scares you.

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