How to Defeat Fear: Four Steps to Victory

He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

What are you afraid of? Be honest with yourself.

Is it affecting your life or your lifestyle?

Wouldn’t you rather be brave instead of fearful?

I’ve always been tormented by heights. I don’t like to fly, don’t like elevators on the outside of buildings or step ladders. I get queasy on kiddy-coasters and Ferris wheels. (Amusement parks are not amusing as far as I’m concerned!)

Many of those things are avoidable – most of the time. I take two Dramamine before every flight. And I avoid flying if we can possibly drive. You get the idea.

 I remember taking our daughter to an amusement park years ago. The first ride she wanted to try was the swings –the ones that are attached to a tall umbrella-like structure by chains. It spins and the chairs fly out and up in the air, driven by centrifugal force. I was ill before two revolutions … and spent the rest of the afternoon on a park bench while she and her dad rode every ride.

The dilemma arises because I know God has told us to ‘be not afraid’. The Bible says so at least 300 times! Jesus told the ruler of the synagogue, “fear not, believe only” (Luke 8:50). So, it is my – our – responsibility to step out in faith and defeat those ‘feelings’ of fear. 

REMIND YOURSELF – fear is an internal perception, not an external reality. Spiders are tiny and we crush them without thinking. Snakes slither away, given any chance to do so. Airplanes do not crash and cruise ships do not sink just because you board them. Ladders are tools, useful not evil. Whatever you are afraid of, it is in your head! The things you fear have no power to consciously harm you.

REINFORCE YOUR THINKING – God said, “I have not given you a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim. 1:7) Lay claim to His promise. Meditate on the power God has given you to overcome any fear or challenge in your life.

ACT WITH PURPOSE – To overcome fear, do the thing you are afraid of. The more you face it, the less fear will have any power over you. Familiarity replaces fear with comfort. Start small. Then gradually find bigger challenges until you can remain calm regardless of the situation.

REWARD YOURSELF – What can you do to help you face the fear? Embrace your feelings of power and accomplishment as you move from fear to faith. This is a process. Celebrate each step along the way. Be grateful for every opportunity to prove yourself capable of overcoming your fears. 

Several months ago, I had an opportunity to put this process to the test. We were in Chicago. One of our scheduled activities was a visit to the Sky Deck on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower. Glass viewing platforms extend from the building. I knew I had to accept the challenge – not only to ride the elevator to the top, but to step out on that glass floor. I had a mental conversation with myself. “You know you can do this. It’s safe. God is with you. People do not get hurt doing this. Don’t let feelings interfere with the fun of doing this.”

The view was amazing! City streets and the river were 1,353 straight down. While other people crawled out on the platform on their hands and knees – or wouldn’t go out there at all, I stayed several extra minutes to prove to myself that I was OK. The best part was that I amazed my husband and daughter. Neither of them thought I would do it!

Of course, like everything worthwhile, this process is simple – but it’s not easy. A few years ago, I was anticipating a night view of Las Vegas from the Eiffel Tower. We bought tickets, and got to the elevator. I couldn’t do it! I waited on the ground floor, dejected and disappointed, while everyone else went up to watch the dancing waters from the tower. I vowed then not to allow myself to be afraid of such simple pleasures.

No matter what you fear, you can overcome your feelings. Spend the time necessary to change your thinking. Fear is in your head. Faith is in your spirit. Use your faith to defeat fear. Remember, God has already given you the victory (I Cor. 15:57). Claim it!

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