Don’t Hide from Fears — Face Them

When I was a kid we had a pony we called “Bucky.” Whenever the kids in the neighborhood would try to ride him, it was like watching a rodeo. It wasn’t long before they would be flying through the air and spitting out dirt.

I had no interest in getting on top of Bucky because I knew what would happen. However my brother-in-law, wanting to toughen me up, plopped me on top of him, and sure enough, a few seconds later I went flying through the air. For several years after that I never wanted to get near another horse.

Finally at 16 I agreed to let my sister who is a riding instructor teach me to ride. Eventually I got to where I actually enjoyed it. I would have missed out on some wonderful experiences had I not decided to face my fears.

Fear’s exaggerations can skew reality so much that it can be paralyzing. To give in to those exaggerations stops any forward movement in dealing with adversity and brings on retreat.

So with fear, it’s important to learn how to separate the thoughts of the mind into what's real and what's imaginary. For example, in my mind I associated horses with flying through the air and hitting the ground head first. Obviously that happens at times, but it doesn’t happen every time. In fact, the reality is that it’s the exception rather than the rule. I had to see that before I could find it in myself to get back on a horse and try again.

"Changing Your Thinking”, from The Patient's Guide to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & Fibromyalgia, offers a practical way to more realistically assess thoughts. The idea is to take note of the initial thought in an event that triggered an emotional reaction and examine the evidence, both for and against that thought. By assessing both sides of the evidence a more realistic perspective is gained so the thought can be adjusted to more accurately fit reality.

I use the idea behind this method when applicable to overcome fear. I first sort through and let go of the imaginary so I can see more clearly how to take action to overcome the real obstacles. I don't ignore reality, but just clear away the exaggerations. Once I’ve gotten my thoughts sorted out and have a clearer perspective, it’s much easier to see the way forward in dealing with the real issues.
Fear is something that can hold me back, especially when I don't seperate the imaginary from reality. But when I do I find I can walk with greater ease and see my way more clearly. So why not make my life easier? Seems to me like the smart thing to do.
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