That question has always been easy for me to answer because from a young age, I knew that I felt fear. It’s that heart-pounding, anxiety-ridden, palms sweating feeling and it is a feeling that has become far too familiar in my life.
What do fear? Well besides the fear of monsters and serial killers and demon clowns from scary movies of my youth there is the fear of failure. There’s fear of success. Wait, what am I talking about. I take that back, hah. It has always been fear of failure! And with that failure comes the fear of what other might say, what the collective “they” might think of me, how their image of me might change and any comments or questions I will have to answer because of it.
Flat out fear.
This hypersensitivity to fear I have reminds of the patients I see with chronic pain, also known as centralized pain. Centralized pain is when the body interprets normal stimulus as “painful” even though this stimulus is harmless and could be someone lightly touching their arm or the fabric of their clothing brushing against their skin. Part of the rehabilitation process with these patients is to rewire their brains to interpret these harmless stimuli as just that: harmless.
This is what we need to do with the things that hold us back. Because let’s face it, my sense of fear is overstimulated and hypersensitive. Yes, a healthy dose of “flight” from that “fight or flight” instinct can probably extend my life for a few years. However, most of my fears have nothing to do with survival and are actually irrational. When compared to the truths and promises of God, they really do not make any sense at all. But for some reason, my brain keeps interpreting my fears as fact and that needs to change. My brain needs to be rewired so I can understand normal.
This is why I need to surround myself with people that encourage me to be bold and courageous. People that remind me when my fear is excessive. This is also why I try to do the things that are making me fearful. Things that take me outside of my comfort zone. Because things that are easy are rarely worth it and things that are worth it are rarely easy.
I will always remember hearing this quote: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to do things scared.”
I hope to one day be able to answer the question of “What is holding you back?” with a firm “Nothing.” Until then, I’ll be facing my fears head on and supporting others face theirs too.