Don’t let fear run your life

What are your biggest fears? I’m sure they probably change from day to day as you react to different experiences. Some of us hold on to the fears we had as children; spiders, monsters, the dark. Some of us find new fears as we go through our life. My current fear is losing my eyesight.

Today I picked up my new glasses, super thin lenses, 50s style winged edges in a tortoise shell brown colour, and a slightly stronger prescription. As soon as I put them on the world felt strange, what I was seeing didn’t quite make sense and I couldn’t focus properly. My optician explained that a prism had been added to one of my lenses to correct a muscle imbalance, and after wearing them for a few days I’d get used to it. All of his advice was logical and should have been reassuring, but I just couldn’t shake feeling scared about these changes. The what ifs, the why, the should I be worried about losing my eyesight? My mind churned for the rest of the day.

I did what most of us inevitably do, I turned to the vast pages of (usually useless) information on the internet to try and make some sense of what prisms and having a muscle imbalance meant. In reality that never helps apart from adding further fuel to those feelings of worry.

Fear settled in, weaving its hesitations and endless questions into my day, distracting me from the things I had set out to achieve. Giving me a headache as I thought about how bad my eyesight could be in the next two years. It lasted over the next week and slowly started pulling all my tiny unrelated trepidations like a magnet into the fiery melting pot of fear. Fear was trying to run my life.

But I had been the little girl who climbed trees with no thought of how I would get down, brushed the dirt on my knees and elbows off and carried on running whenever I fell over. Now as an adult I felt I had carried some part of that fearlessness with me. I’m a positive person, the person who would say ‘What shall we do?’ rather than ‘Why is this happening’ as my first reaction to any worrying situations. I’m the person who thinks of ways around an issue, or eliminating one before it hits me in the face. Being overcome by this wave of fear had really shocked me, and jolted me into thinking about how could I stop it.

There’s no three step plan for dealing with your fears, what has worked for one person won’t necessarily work for you, but a few things did help me.

I made a list of all the things I was scared about; losing my eyesight, struggling to finish a project, losing touch with my friends. I suppose the first step was getting them out of my head and onto a piece of paper, it was almost like confining them to a space they couldn’t escape from. 
I took a deep breath when I finished the list and then read it, but read it like I was reading someone else’s problems. It then became just another problem solving exercise and got me really thinking about what that fear written on that piece of paper actually meant. I then wrote a reply next to each one, I actually ended up giving myself the advice I would give any of my dearest friends and family.

Most of us in our life have at some point been very good at helping other people overcome their fears, maybe you’ve lent an ear to a friend who has a worry or put aside time for a loved one who is going through a difficult patch. But we don’t usually think about helping ourselves. It’s important we all take a moment to remember that we are in control of our own lives, no one else. Especially not fear.