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Overcoming Fear And Worry Part 1

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Fear

You have Heard of the Great Pretender, well now let me introduce the Great Intruder.
Katrina, school shootings, and accidents, as well as those who seemingly lead everyday secure lives. I hear about fear, and the security we seem to experience can disappear in the blink of an eye. For many, the illusion of security that was lived with for so long has dissolved. Millions of Americans—as well as people in other countries—who never before experienced fear and panic now do. Over the past decade, we have become more safety conscious. Many people used to let their kids run around the neighborhood, but now worries about stranger danger have made us more cautious. Many parents bring their children to school instead of sending them on the school bus; airports and places of business have increased security; and Coast Guard and Navy boats patrol our harbors and coasts. The media pours frightening stories into our homes twenty-four hours a day, further eroding our feeling of safety. Just watch the news each night. It will intensify your fear! We’re the richest nation on earth. We’ve always found security in our savings, stocks, mutual funds, retirement, and so on. Until recently. Lately, major corporations have failed, pension plans have been drained, and the stock market has been erratic—these situations too feed our fear on a daily basis. Each day I talk with people whose lives are filled with fear. Some of them have recently developed fears; others have lived in a prison of fear since childhood. The good news is that the prison doors of fear are unlocked! Remember, no matter how long you have been imprisoned behind its bars, you can find freedom from the grip of fear and walk away from it.
It’s an intruder. It’s also an interference with everyday life. It can come and go at will and take the edge off of life. You’ve heard of a joy robber—well, this is it. At times there’s a good reason for its presence, and then there are times when having it around doesn’t make sense. What is this? Fear. It has the power to either immobilize or motivate, but in either case, it can cast a cloud over what may have been a positive experience.1 We all experience fear to one degree or another. It can range from the smallest fear of not looking good enough to the concern of not getting home safely from school each day. Some of us talk about our fear, while others just live with its presence and remain silent about it. While it’s true that many feel secure today, that feeling could be a sense of false security. I have met with many in schools and companies who seem so secure but inwardly live with fear. I have sat with survivors of 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, school shootings, and accidents, as well as those who seemingly lead everyday secure lives. I hear about fear, and the security we seem to experience can disappear in the blink of an eye. For many, the illusion of security that was lived with for so long has dissolved. Millions of Americans—as well as people in other countries—who never before experienced fear and panic now do. Over the past decade, we have become more safety conscious. Many people used to let their kids run around the neighborhood, but now worries about stranger danger have made us more cautious. Many parents bring their children to school instead of sending them on the school bus; airports and places of business have increased security; and Coast Guard and Navy boats patrol our harbors and coasts. The media pours frightening stories into our homes twenty-four hours a day, further eroding our feeling of safety. Just watch the news each night. It will intensify your fear! We’re the richest nation on earth. We’ve always found security in our savings, stocks, mutual funds, retirement, and so on. Until recently. Lately, major corporations have failed, pension plans have been drained, and the stock market has been erratic—these situations too feed our fear on a daily basis. Each day I talk with people whose lives are filled with fear. Some of them have recently developed fears; others have lived in a prison of fear since childhood. The good news is that the prison doors of fear are unlocked! Remember, no matter how long you have been imprisoned behind its bars, you can find freedom from the grip of fear and walk away from it.
been erratic—these situations too feed our fear on a daily basis. Each day I talk with people whose lives are filled with fear. Some of them have recently developed fears; others have lived in a prison of fear since childhood. The good news is that the prison doors of fear are unlocked! Remember, no matter how long you have been imprisoned behind its bars, you can find freedom from the grip of fear and walk away from it.

WHAT IS FEAR?

Wright, H. Norman. Overcoming Fear And Worry (p. 8). Aspire Press. Kindle Edition.
Our English word fear comes from the Old English faer, meaning “sudden calamity or danger.” Fear has come to mean the emotional response to real or imagined danger. The Hebrew word for fear can also be translated dread, meaning a heavy, oppressive sensation of fear. A word we often interchange with fear is anxiety, which comes from the Latin anxius. To be anxious is to be troubled in mind about some uncertain event. A variation of anxius means “to press tightly or to strangle.” Anxiety is often a suffocating experience. Fear and anxiety are actually quite similar. A true fear has an identifiable object of danger, either real (a burglar in your house) or imagined (a shadow that looks like a burglar). When we’re anxious, we have the same feeling of fear, but we don’t know why. We show our fear in different ways. Some people experience a sensation internally and show nothing on the outside. Others sweat, and their heart pounds. Some people become unglued, start screaming, and run away. Others freeze and cannot move. Habakkuk the prophet experienced some of the common effects of fear:
,
Habakkuk 3:16 KJV 1900
16 When I heard, my belly trembled; My lips quivered at the voice: Rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, That I might rest in the day of trouble: When he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops.
Habakkuk 3:16 KJV 1900
16 When I heard, my belly trembled; My lips quivered at the voice: Rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, That I might rest in the day of trouble: When he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops.
Also, the skin can appear pale, hair stand on end, and blood pressure rise. There may be increased blood flowing through the muscles, causing greater tension; dryness and tightness of the throat and mouth; an increased need to urinate and defecate; butterflies flying in your stomach; a paralyzing weakness in the arms and legs; difficulty in breathing or a tightness in the chest. Scripture gives the same description of the results of fear and worry:
,
Proverbs 12:25 KJV 1900
25 Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: But a good word maketh it glad.

RATIONAL AND IRRATIONAL FEARS

Fear of Life

All of us are afraid sometimes. That’s normal. But some of us are fearful most of the time. That’s not normal. We weren’t designed to be driven by fear, yet some of us are. We weren’t created to dread life, yet many of us do. Occasionally, people tell me that they are afraid of death. That’s not unusual, but even more people I talk to are afraid of life in one way or another. Living life to its full potential is a threat to them. They’re emotionally paralyzed and refuse to participate in many of life’s normal experiences. They hide and insulate themselves and throw away their opportunity to live life. When counseling them, I often say, “It seems you’re immobilized by fear,” and they agree! There’s a difference between being afraid and being immobilized by fear. We may be afraid at times, but we’re not to live our lives in fear. Paul wrote:
2 Timothy 1:7 KJV 1900
7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Isn’t it strange for us to choose to imprison ourselves in fear, especially when Christ came to set us free? The fear of life is actually more debilitating than the fear of death. Fear disables. Fear shortens life. Fear cripples our relationships with others. Fear blocks our relationship with God. Fear makes life a chore. We become the living dead.
In the words of John Haggai, a leader in ways to overcome tough situations:
Wright, H. Norman. Overcoming Fear And Worry (p. 11). Aspire Press. Kindle Edition.
Having a fear is like having a cancer. It is always there, hidden inside you, always sapping your strength and breaking your concentration. Even rational fear can be destructive in its effects.
You cannot hide fear. Its destruction begins by feeding on you, and then moving into your social and physical environment.
The fear of life is the fear of being hurt, being rejected, making a mistake, showing imperfections, and failing as a person. Fearing rejection is a common response for all of us as we grow up, but it becomes destructive when it continues and weaves its way into our adulthood. Somewhere along our path in life, we may subconsciously decide not to be vulnerable and never to take a risk. Before long we become turtles tucked inside a defensive shell of fear, immobile and detached from life. Like turtles, we’ll only progress in life when we stick our necks out.

Exaggerated Fear

One day a friend and I were fishing at a mountain lake. We were working on a nice string of fish when it started to rain, and in just a few minutes the shower became a downpour. We hated to leave our fishing spot, but we decided that dry was better than wet. So we climbed into my friend’s car and drove up the mountain road. As we ascended to a higher elevation, the rain turned to snow, and soon the snowstorm was heavy and intense. When we crested a slight hill, the car began an uncontrollable spin on the slippery road. I realized we were sliding helplessly toward a roadside cliff, so I reached to unbuckle my seat belt in order to jump out before the car slid over the edge. However, in a few seconds the car did a complete 360 and came to a stop in the middle of the road. The life-threatening danger was over, but my friend and I had been plunged into a state of fear. There was nothing we could do about the way our bodies reacted; we had accelerated heart rates, a sinking feeling in our stomachs, and white, blood-drained skin. We stayed on edge emotionally as we crept down the hill into town, briefly losing control of the car on two curves. Our experience on the slick road illustrates a legitimate and rational fear: We could have lost our lives. But many who are plagued by irrational fear would end up exaggerating the danger of our close call and swear never again to go fishing, drive on a mountain road, or drive in the snow. An exaggerated fear is equipped with binoculars; it tends to magnify dangers that are a great distance away, making small threats appear large. Normal fear reacts, but exaggerated fear overreacts. In many areas of the country, there seems to be larger-than-normal amount of danger and violence—freeway shootings, gang wars, kidnappings, and so forth. Most people react normally to these dangers by being cautious on freeways and avoiding some potentially dangerous areas of the city. But those with exaggerated fear overreact by confining themselves to their homes or neighborhoods.

Fear of Fear

Some people actually fear the sensation of fear itself, so they go out of their way to avoid all places and situations that produce these sensations. Since they cannot avoid the involuntary knot in the stomach or the white (or sometimes flushed) complexion that accompanies a frightening experience, they avoid any setting in which these feelings might possibly occur. For example, someone who is afraid of loud and dominant individuals may overcompensate by avoiding meeting new people altogether.

Fear of Thoughts

Some people may not be afraid of their feelings but are afraid of their thoughts. Have you ever wished that a frightening thought would go away—or would never have entered your mind in the first place? I’m going to forget the host’s name, or I won’t remember the opening lines of my presentation. Occasional thoughts like these are normal and relatively harmless, but the persistent fear of these thoughts is abnormal.

COMMON FEARS IN DAILY LIFE

What part does fear play in your life? Let’s consider daily life. Fears covers the gamut of human experience and includes fear of exams, spiders, darkness, mice, heights, and rejection—among hundreds of other things. There are healthy and unhealthy fears. But do you know the difference? Healthy fears may prompt you to:

# Wear a seat belt in a plane or car to avoid injury.

# Wear a life jacket in a canoe on a river trip.

# Check with an expert before eating wild mushrooms.

# Ask a financial expert for advice before making investments.

Any of these normal concerns and fears could move into the unhealthy stage by never riding in a car, plane or canoe; never eating any mushrooms; never investing. Severe anxiety or fear hinders a person’s performance. It can actually cause paralysis.
But what about the benefits of fear or anxiety? Many individuals in various professions have said that a mild degree of fear and anxiety increases their effectiveness. Actors, speakers, politicians, football players, salespeople, runners, and fighter pilots are a few of those individuals who feel they perform better with a certain amount of anxiety.
In an extreme crisis, however, fear may be so intense that the panic creates even greater trauma. A person running from a fire in a restaurant may run into the street without looking and be struck by a car. Too much fear brings mistakes. But too little fear can cause carelessness and even a disregard for dangerous situations. Firefighters can’t be rash and careless, nor can army troops.
We were not created to live in a continual state of apprehension. Our lives are not to be a reflection of timidity and fear. You may want deliverance from fear, but you should not want deliverance from all of your fears. Fear is the fuel that moves you out of a dangerous situation. Positive fear can save your life. It is fear that gnaws at your life and disrupts your sense of calmness that we seek to eliminate.
Much of our fear is directed toward possible eventualities, and here is where our fear changes into worry. A heart attack, the stock market collapsing, another world war, and the end of the world are all things that cannot be prevented by fearing them. The energy that we expend in fear and worry can keep us in a state of anxiety as it builds and swells within us. We end up being too afraid to live life!
What do you fear most—falling off a thousand-foot cliff? Being attacked and gored by a raging bull? Probably not. Unusual situations like these are not usually what frighten us. It is more the everyday events and people who threaten us to such an extent that our life is limited. Whatever it is that you fear most, do you think you’re the only one who feels that way?

Think about yourself as you read about three common fears.

1. Fear of rejection.

Rejection is feeling unaccepted by yourself, other people, or both. Somewhere in your lifetime you may have been treated like an unacceptable person. Someone, even a parent, may have seen you as a burden. If you were rejected as a child, you may either retreat from others or, out of your fear of rejection, seek approval so intense that you push others away.
Many people are afraid of socializing with others, especially strangers. They might be able to perform great feats and acts of courage, but they cringe when it comes to reaching out to people. Their fear of others cries out until other people become aware of their discomfort. Other people may just decide to leave such intense people alone, and then the discomforting people are left with the feeling of being rejected. Fear of reaching out to others and fear of being rejected go hand in hand.
Another way to experience rejection (and loneliness) is to avoid socializing and become a recluse. You may feel a desperate need for affection and approval, but when love is offered, you reject it because you question its sincerity. A rejected person short-circuits any acceptance that is offered to him or her. Thus the fear the rejected person feels intensifies.
Fear is like that—it involves two kinds of pain. One kind is the pain of experiencing the situation, and the other kind comes from avoiding what you are afraid of. Either way the pain exists. What most of us do not realize, however, is that in the long run, the pain of doing something we’re afraid of is less than the pain of avoiding it.

2. Fear of failure.

Fearful people are often perfectionists. Their security comes from doing things better than anyone else. They either drive themselves and others up a wall in their quest for perfection or they listen to their fear and retreat. They fear ridicule from others and their own inner voices when they are not perfect.
Fearful people are often perfectionists. Their security comes from doing things better than anyone else. They either drive themselves and others up a wall in their quest for perfection or they listen to their fear and retreat. They fear ridicule from others and their own inner voices when they are not perfect. If you’re a perfectionist, you expend more effort than others yet feel no real satisfaction. In a sense you are a successful failure, continually striving to do better. You are never satisfied with yourself or others. Interruptions, disruptions, changes, irregularities, delays, and surprises are your enemies. Your theme song is strive, strive, strive—an endless treadmill. There are times, though, when a perfectionist deals with his or her fear by retreating rather than striving. This perfectionist withdraws and hesitates, because the pain of failure is too much. By not trying, he or she can always think, I can do it if I try, or I know I could really do it if I wanted to . . . or had the time. But if he or she tries, that hope would be lost. Withdrawal becomes a protective cocoon. The unreasonable demands of perfectionists placate their need to please themselves or others or to feel adequate and eliminate the fear of failure. But whatever is driving them has an insatiable appetite. If you’re a perfectionist, what or who are you afraid of? We can never achieve perfection in this life. We can become confident and, based on this confidence, do the best we can. Our confidence comes from a declaration from God Himself who has declared us to be adequate people. He did this through His Son, Jesus, and His work on the cross. Think about it. 3. Fear of people. One of the most common problems of life is the fact that one of our greatest fears is the fear of people. Imagine one person fearing another person—people fearing people. This fear comes in various shapes and sizes: and inferiority, shyness, and timidity all reflect this fear. Sometimes these fears become extreme and move into agoraphobia—the fear of being in public.3 THE CAUSES AND EFFECTS OF FEAR How do our fears develop? They grow out of experiences or situations in our childhood. They may have been modeled for us by our parents, and in some ways we pattern our life after them. In many cases our childhood interactions with significant people form our response to others and to ourselves. How much of what you do is motivated by fear? Do you know? Have you ever thought about how your life may be dominated by fear? Think about these statements and see if they apply to your own life: Fear of what others think about us keeps us from being friendly or speaking up in class. Fear of others getting more than us or a better position causes us to act impulsively, to try to beat others, or to devalue others by gossip. Fear of being controlled by others or of having to conform causes us to dominate others. Fear of sharing our weaknesses and inadequacies causes us to act like the strong silent type. Fear of failure keeps us in a life of mediocrity and boredom. Fear of financial ruin keeps us from wise investments and/or makes us dull and boring by our careful restrictive lifestyle. Fear of God makes us distort who he really is. And the fears go on and on. What is your fear? What does it cause you to do? Two Great Motivators—Hope and Fear There are two great motivating forces in life: fear and hope. Interestingly, both of these motivators can produce the same result. Fear is a powerful negative drive. It compels you forward while inhibiting your progress at the same time. Fear is like a noose that slowly tightens around your neck if you move in the wrong direction. Fear restricts your abilities and thoughts and leads you toward panic reactions. Even when you’re standing on the threshold of success, your most creative and inventive plans can be sabotaged by fear. Fear is also like a video continually replaying your most haunting experiences: moments of embarrassment, rejection, failure, hurt, and disappointment. The message of the fear video is clear: Life is full of these experiences, and they will repeat themselves. Fear causes you to say, “I can’t do it; I may fail.” You have a constant sense of living in the grip of fear. Hope is a totally different motivating force—a positive drive. Hope is like a magnet that draws you toward your goal. Hope expands your life and brings a message of possibility and change. It draws you away from the bad experiences of the past and toward better experiences in the future. The hope video continually replays scenarios of potential success. Hope causes you to say, “I can do it; I will succeed.” And it overrides “I don’t feel safe.” What motivates you? What drives you? What pushes you ahead in life: fear or hope? OVERCOMING FEAR Have you ever wondered why some people are able to overcome their fears while other people are overcome by their fears? Those who overcome their fears confront their fears head on in a realistic way. Most fears need to be overcome gradually. Large or long-established fears are often too overwhelming to be conquered with one swift blow. Trying to conquer the fear immediately may actually cause the fear to grow instead of shrink. The best way to begin overcoming a fear is to face it a little at a time and from a safe distance. As you begin to tame your fears, be realistic about your expectations. If you were to chart your improvement on a graph, don’t expect to see a straight, upward line of uninterrupted success. Your growth and improvement will come in a series of ups and downs, and there will be times when your fears are actually worse. If you want to succeed in overcoming your fear, develop a strategy for doing so. Specifically Identify What You Fear Step 1: Take a sheet of paper and write down your fears. Step 2: Once you have listed your specific fears, rank them in order of importance, beginning with whatever you fear the most. Step 3: Once you have identified and ranked your fears on a sheet of paper, write the heading “Past Experiences” Then describe two or three times when you actually experienced this fear. Use the most recent experiences you can remember, and give as many details as possible for these encounters. Step 4: List all the symptoms (emotional responses, physical responses, and social responses) that you experienced the last time you met your fear face-to-face. Be as specific as possible when listing your reactions to these past fearful situations. Did you become immobilized or did you run? Did you try to remain calm and confront your fear, or did you scream and run away? What did you feel when you last confronted your fear? Did your heart beat faster? Did you perspire? Did you feel like fainting, or did your stomach begin to grind? Build a Hierarchy Building a hierarchy requires you to use your imagination in approaching the object, situation, or person you fear. You begin by imagining the least threatening situation in which you could involve yourself with this fear object. Gradually you move to the most threatening scenario. Each imaginary scene in between builds upon those previous to it. Create a Self-Talk List On the left side of a piece of paper, list some of the typical negative statements you make whenever you find yourself in the situation you fear. Then on the right side, list the statements you could make that will help you cope with the situation and face your fear. What you say to yourself at this time may make the difference between overcoming your fear and continuing to be overcome by it. If your statements reflect negativism, you won’t mature in your mastery over fear. True, this exercise is a bit complex and involves a lot of effort. But for many, this process has been very effective. It is a step toward overcoming your fear. And your fears can be overcome—that’s a promise from God! Gregory Jantz suggests the following: People often lament, “But what if” and use this unknown as a reason to continue living their lives paralyzed with fear. An effective way to move them past this stage is to see what life looks like at the other end of what-if. The way to do this is through the third step, to turn what-if into an if-what. For some fears, you may need to ask, “Okay, if this were to happen, what would it mean and what would I do?” (Again, depending on the nature of your fears and the level of your anxiety, consider working through this with a counselor or even a trusted friend or loved one. Taming the monster of what-if sometimes takes the deeper examination of if-what. If the worst you can imagine were to happen, what would that mean? How would your life go on? What would you do? What would your life be like? You need to know there is life at the other end of your fears, even your greatest ones. You need to know you have resources and help available, even if the worst thing were to happen.4 GOD’S? PLAN FOR OUR MIND God does have a plan for our mind. He has an ideal for it. The New Testament describes or implies what a Christian’s mind is to be like. Our Mind Is to Be Alive The Christian’s mind is described in (NASB): “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” When we invite Jesus Christ into our life, we have a new life. We come alive. We show this new life by the choices we make. It’s a major adjustment for many. We’re now faced with choices of what we think about, what we dwell on, what we put into our mind, what we say, and so on. I’ve heard some say, “After I invited Jesus into my life, I felt alive for the first time in my life.” Think about it. Take time to sit and reflect. Are you still struggling with the old thinking pattern, with clutter in your mind? Or is there a sense of being alive in your mind and thought life? Fear and worries can be changed into feelings of rest and security. That’s being alive. Our Mind Is to Be Peaceful You and I have choices as to what we focus on in our thought life. Paul said: “For those who are according to the flesh and are controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on and pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit set their minds on and seek those things which gratify the [Holy] Spirit.” — , AMP The very next verse tells us, “The mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace” (v. 6, AMP). You and I set our minds. That’s our work. The result of doing this is peace, which is God’s work. Our Mind Is to Stay Focused “But [now] I am fearful, lest that even as the serpent beguiled Eve by his cunning, so your minds may be corrupted and seduced from wholehearted and sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” — , AMP Distractions are all around us, and our thoughts can drift and lead us astray. It takes effort to stay focused. GOD’S PLAN FOR USEFUL FEARS Some of our fears are useful to us, but most of them are useless. If our useless fears had only a brief life span, we could tolerate them. The problem is that useless fears tend to hang on for years; some even follow us to the grave. It’s not the fear that bothers us; it’s the consequences of fear. A useful fear is one that prompts us to action in the face of a real threat. If I’m driving down the highway and a car traveling in the opposite direction swerves into my lane, the fear that strikes me is useful, because it prompts me to take evasive action. If I feel pains in my chest, jaw, and left arm, the sudden fear of a heart attack is useful, because it drives me to seek immediate medical attention. If I’m strolling along a trail in Grand Teton National Park and come face-to-face with a six-hundred-pound bear, my momentary terror is useful, because it spurs me to put as much distance as possible between the bear and me. If I read in the newspaper that the savings bank in which I have deposited my money is about to fold, my fear is useful, because it encourages me to rescue my savings immediately. A useful fear is an inner warning system alerting me that something is wrong in my life. A useful fear signals a real danger that must be confronted with corrective action. A lawyer once shared with me that when he was a student, he experienced a persistent, low-level fear of failing his bar exam. But this useful fear pushed him to study diligently for the exam, which he passed. The Bible tells us that a reverential or respectful fear of God is a useful fear, because it leads to wisdom. Jesus Christ graphically described the useful fear of God: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” — Hear the words of Jesus echoing throughout the New Testament and in our daily life: “Fear not . . . fear not . . . fear not . . . fear not.” We are never, never alone. We do not reach out by ourselves whether it be to another person or a group or a new venture in life. Jesus is with us. He does not isolate us from the hard times of life but plunges through them with us. The Old Testament abounds with the same words Jesus expressed: “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, does not faint or grow weary; there is no searching of His understanding. He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might He increases strength [causing it to multiply and making it abound].” — , AMP Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice.” — , AMP “When you pass through the waters I will be with you, and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned or scorched, nor will the flame kindle upon you.” — , AMP Hear also the words of Paul in (AMP): “For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” What do these verses say to us about our lives, our fears? During your most intense bout with fear, allow your mind to become an echo chamber resounding with the words of Jesus: “Fear not . . . fear not . . . fear not.”
If you’re a perfectionist, you expend more effort than others yet feel no real satisfaction. In a sense you are a successful failure, continually striving to do better. You are never satisfied with yourself or others. Interruptions, disruptions, changes, irregularities, delays, and surprises are your enemies. Your theme song is strive, strive, strive—an endless treadmill.
There are times, though, when a perfectionist deals with his or her fear by retreating rather than striving. This perfectionist withdraws and hesitates, because the pain of failure is too much. By not trying, he or she can always think, I can do it if I try, or I know I could really do it if I wanted to . . . or had the time. But if he or she tries, that hope would be lost. Withdrawal becomes a protective cocoon.
The unreasonable demands of perfectionists placate their need to please themselves or others or to feel adequate and eliminate the fear of failure. But whatever is driving them has an insatiable appetite. If you’re a perfectionist, what or who are you afraid of? We can never achieve perfection in this life. We can become confident and, based on this confidence, do the best we can. Our confidence comes from a declaration from God Himself who has declared us to be adequate people. He did this through His Son, Jesus, and His work on the cross. Think about it.

3. Fear of people.

One of the most common problems of life is the fact that one of our greatest fears is the fear of people. Imagine one person fearing another person—people fearing people. This fear comes in various shapes and sizes: and inferiority, shyness, and timidity all reflect this fear. Sometimes these fears become extreme and move into agoraphobia—the fear of being in public.

3 THE CAUSES AND EFFECTS OF FEAR

How do our fears develop? They grow out of experiences or situations in our childhood. They may have been modeled for us by our parents, and in some ways we pattern our life after them. In many cases our childhood interactions with significant people form our response to others and to ourselves. How much of what you do is motivated by fear? Do you know? Have you ever thought about how your life may be dominated by fear?

Think about these statements and see if they apply to your own life:

# Fear of what others think about us keeps us from being friendly or speaking up in class.

# Fear of others getting more than us or a better position causes us to act impulsively, to try to beat others, or to devalue others by gossip.

# Fear of being controlled by others or of having to conform causes us to dominate others.

#Fear of sharing our weaknesses and inadequacies causes us to act like the strong silent type.

# Fear of failure keeps us in a life of mediocrity and boredom.

# Fear of financial ruin keeps us from wise investments and/or makes us dull and boring by our careful restrictive lifestyle.

# Fear of God makes us distort who he really is.

And the fears go on and on.
What is your fear?
What does it cause you to do?

Two Great Motivators—Hope and Fear

There are two great motivating forces in life: fear and hope. Interestingly, both of these motivators can produce the same result.
Fear is a powerful negative drive. It compels you forward while inhibiting your progress at the same time. Fear is like a noose that slowly tightens around your neck if you move in the wrong direction. Fear restricts your abilities and thoughts and leads you toward panic reactions. Even when you’re standing on the threshold of success, your most creative and inventive plans can be sabotaged by fear.
Fear is also like a video continually replaying your most haunting experiences: moments of embarrassment, rejection, failure, hurt, and disappointment. The message of the fear video is clear: Life is full of these experiences, and they will repeat themselves. Fear causes you to say, “I can’t do it; I may fail.” You have a constant sense of living in the grip of fear.
Hope is a totally different motivating force—a positive drive. Hope is like a magnet that draws you toward your goal. Hope expands your life and brings a message of possibility and change. It draws you away from the bad experiences of the past and toward better experiences in the future. The hope video continually replays scenarios of potential success. Hope causes you to say, “I can do it; I will succeed.” And it overrides “I don’t feel safe.”
What motivates you?
What drives you?
What pushes you ahead in life: fear or hope?

OVERCOMING FEAR

Have you ever wondered why some people are able to overcome their fears while other people are overcome by their fears? Those who overcome their fears confront their fears head on in a realistic way.
Most fears need to be overcome gradually. Large or long-established fears are often too overwhelming to be conquered with one swift blow. Trying to conquer the fear immediately may actually cause the fear to grow instead of shrink. The best way to begin overcoming a fear is to face it a little at a time and from a safe distance.
As you begin to tame your fears, be realistic about your expectations. If you were to chart your improvement on a graph, don’t expect to see a straight, upward line of uninterrupted success. Your growth and improvement will come in a series of ups and downs, and there will be times when your fears are actually worse. If you want to succeed in overcoming your fear, develop a strategy for doing so.

Specifically Identify What You Fear

Step 1: Take a sheet of paper and write down your fears.

Step 2: Once you have listed your specific fears, rank them in order of importance, beginning with whatever you fear the most.

Step 3: Once you have identified and ranked your fears on a sheet of paper, write the heading “Past Experiences” Then describe two or three times when you actually experienced this fear. Use the most recent experiences you can remember, and give as many details as possible for these encounters.

Step 4: List all the symptoms (emotional responses, physical responses, and social responses) that you experienced the last time you met your fear face-to-face. Be as specific as possible when listing your reactions to these past fearful situations.

# Did you become immobilized or did you run?

# Did you try to remain calm and confront your fear, or did you scream and run away?

# What did you feel when you last confronted your fear? Did your heart beat faster?

# Did you perspire?

# Did you feel like fainting, or did your stomach begin to grind?

Build a Hierarchy

Building a hierarchy requires you to use your imagination in approaching the object, situation, or person you fear. You begin by imagining the least threatening situation in which you could involve yourself with this fear object. Gradually you move to the most threatening scenario. Each imaginary scene in between builds upon those previous to it.

Create a Self-Talk List

On the left side of a piece of paper, list some of the typical negative statements you make whenever you find yourself in the situation you fear. Then on the right side, list the statements you could make that will help you cope with the situation and face your fear.
What you say to yourself at this time may make the difference between overcoming your fear and continuing to be overcome by it. If your statements reflect negativism, you won’t mature in your mastery over fear.
True, this exercise is a bit complex and involves a lot of effort. But for many, this process has been very effective. It is a step toward overcoming your fear. And your fears can be overcome—that’s a promise from God!
Gregory Jantz suggests the following:
People often lament, “But what if” and use this unknown as a reason to continue living their lives paralyzed with fear. An effective way to move them past this stage is to see what life looks like at the other end of what-if. The way to do this is through the third step, to turn what-if into an if-what. For some fears, you may need to ask, “Okay, if this were to happen, what would it mean and what would I do?” (Again, depending on the nature of your fears and the level of your anxiety, consider working through this with a counselor or even a trusted friend or loved one. Taming the monster of what-if sometimes takes the deeper examination of if-what. If the worst you can imagine were to happen, what would that mean? How would your life go on? What would you do? What would your life be like? You need to know there is life at the other end of your fears, even your greatest ones. You need to know you have resources and help available, even if the worst thing were to happen

.4 GOD’S? PLAN FOR OUR MIND

God does have a plan for our mind. He has an ideal for it. The New Testament describes or implies what a Christian’s mind is to be like.

Our Mind Is to Be Alive

The Christian’s mind is described in
Romans 8:6 KJV 1900
6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
When we invite Jesus Christ into our life, we have a new life. We come alive. We show this new life by the choices we make. It’s a major adjustment for many. We’re now faced with choices of what we think about, what we dwell on, what we put into our mind, what we say, and so on. I’ve heard some say, “After I invited Jesus into my life, I felt alive for the first time in my life.”
Think about it. Take time to sit and reflect. Are you still struggling with the old thinking pattern, with clutter in your mind? Or is there a sense of being alive in your mind and thought life?
Fear and worries can be changed into feelings of rest and security. That’s being alive.

Our Mind Is to Be Peaceful

You and I have choices as to what we focus on in our thought life. Paul said:
,
Romans 8:5 KJV 1900
5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
The very next verse tells us, “The mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace” (v. 6, AMP). You and I set our minds. That’s our work. The result of doing this is peace, which is God’s work.

Our Mind Is to Stay Focused

,
2 Corinthians 11:3 KJV 1900
3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
Distractions are all around us, and our thoughts can drift and lead us astray. It takes effort to stay focused.

GOD’S PLAN FOR USEFUL FEARS

Some of our fears are useful to us, but most of them are useless. If our useless fears had only a brief life span, we could tolerate them. The problem is that useless fears tend to hang on for years; some even follow us to the grave. It’s not the fear that bothers us; it’s the consequences of fear.
A useful fear is one that prompts us to action in the face of a real threat. If I’m driving down the highway and a car traveling in the opposite direction swerves into my lane, the fear that strikes me is useful, because it prompts me to take evasive action. If I feel pains in my chest, jaw, and left arm, the sudden fear of a heart attack is useful, because it drives me to seek immediate medical attention. If I’m strolling along a trail in Grand Teton National Park and come face-to-face with a six-hundred-pound bear, my momentary terror is useful, because it spurs me to put as much distance as possible between the bear and me. If I read in the newspaper that the savings bank in which I have deposited my money is about to fold, my fear is useful, because it encourages me to rescue my savings immediately.
A useful fear is an inner warning system alerting me that something is wrong in my life. A useful fear signals a real danger that must be confronted with corrective action. A lawyer once shared with me that when he was a student, he experienced a persistent, low-level fear of failing his bar exam. But this useful fear pushed him to study diligently for the exam, which he passed.
The Bible tells us that a reverential or respectful fear of God is a useful fear, because it leads to wisdom. Jesus Christ graphically described the useful fear of God:
Matthew 10:28 KJV 1900
28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Hear the words of Jesus echoing throughout the New Testament and in our daily life: “Fear not . . . fear not . . . fear not . . . fear not.”
We are never, never alone. We do not reach out by ourselves whether it be to another person or a group or a new venture in life. Jesus is with us. He does not isolate us from the hard times of life but plunges through them with us. The Old Testament abounds with the same words Jesus expressed:
,
Isaiah 40:28–29 KJV 1900
28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, That the everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding. 29 He giveth power to the faint; And to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
,
Isaiah 41:10 KJV 1900
10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: Be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; Yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
,
Isaiah 43:2 KJV 1900
2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; Neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
Hear also the words of Paul in Beyond DOUBT
Romans 8:38–39 KJV 1900
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What do these verses say to us about our lives, our fears? During your most intense bout with fear, allow your mind to become an echo chamber resounding with the words of Jesus: “Fear not . . . fear not . . . fear not.”
Wright, H. Norman. Overcoming Fear And Worry (pp. 16-42). Aspire Press. Kindle Edition.
Wright, H. Norman. Overcoming Fear And Worry (p. 8). Aspire Press. Kindle Edition.
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