Fears that are learned or conditioned. As a child I used to have an unreasonable fear of grasshoppers. No grasshopper ever harmed me so from whom did I learn this fear? You're right. It was my mother. She had a terror of them, so I learned to be afraid of them too, along with a fear of the dark, the bogeyman, etc. Fortunately, learned or conditioned feelings of fear can be reconditioned. I still don't care for big grasshoppers, but the way I overcame my irrational fear of them was to realize that they were harmless and to practice picking some up.
I wouldn't suggest the same process for overcoming a fear of snakes, but very often to do the thing we fear is an effective way to overcome learned or conditioned fears.
Fears that are real. Fears, such as the fear of losing one's job and income, of living alone when elderly or bereaved, or losing one's health, etc., etc. can be very real to those going through these experiences.
The question is, how do we overcome our fears?
First. Learn to admit them. This is the first step for resolving any problem. As Jesus, the Master Teacher, once said, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."1
Second. Verbalize your fears. This gets them out in the open where they can be dealt with.
You can control your actions
regardless of your feelings.
Third. Don't allow your fears to control you. It's okay and normal to be scared out of your socks at times. However, it's immature to allow your feelings to control your actions. You can control your actions regardless of your feelings. It's not always easy but it is a choice we all have!
Fourth. If your fears are imaginary, acknowledge this and refuse to believe them. Get facts before jumping to conclusions. Remember, what the mind dwells on, it will eventually believe and act on. Refuse to dwell on fearful thoughts.
Fifth. If a fear is an ongoing anxiety that has no apparent cause, realize that it is most likely a symptom of some hidden fear. If so, it may be wise to see a trained counselor to help you find and resolve the cause.
Sixth. If the fear is real, accept your situation but take whatever steps you can to change the circumstances that cause your fear. If you fear a layoff, upgrade your training to suit the needs of the changing work environment. If you fear being alone, reach out to others and help meet some of their needs. In so doing, you will meet some of your own. Realize, too that most adverse situations don't last forever.
Seventh. Above all, learn to trust in God. There is no greater way to overcome fear. And this is a choice we all can make. The Bible says, "Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe."2
Trusting God is not a copout or an excuse for avoiding personal responsibility for our well-being. Trusting God is knowing that no matter what happens, God will bring good out of it if we do what we need to do and trust the rest to him. The Bible also says, "For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him."3
When I'm afraid, I say to myself, "What would I do if I weren't feeling scared?" I then act accordingly.
I also commit and trust my life and circumstances to God every day. And, whenever faced with a fearful or challenging situation, I always pray, "God I choose to trust myself and this particular situation to you." I keep doing this and, in time, my feelings catch up with my choice. It may take a while but it always works out for the best when I trust it to God.
He will do the same for you if you do your part and daily trust your life and circumstances to him.
1. John 8:32, (NIV).
2. Proverbs 29:25, (NIV).
3. Romans 8:28, (NIV).
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