Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Taking Care of Myself: Outgrowing Fear

When I first read about "outgrowing fear," I thought it was a crazy idea.  I believed that fear was more or less an instinct and had an important purpose in keeping me alive and out of trouble.  But my dear first sponsor in recovery assured me that letting go of fear by relying on God was essential to sobriety.

Of course, it's true that some fears do help me stay out of trouble.  I have a healthy fear of running red lights, for example.  But most of the fears that were running my life were actually just mental - ideas I had that I was scaring myself with.

I had a big fear of being judged by other people.  I don't know what I thought would happen to me if I were judged.  Of course, I thought people that loved me would stop loving me.  But the thing is, if I pretend to be something I'm not, I'm not actually being loved because those people don't even really know who I am.

So I learned that pretense would just create a life where I never really knew how I stood with anybody.  Little by little I learned to just be who I am.  I tell the truth about who I am, what I think and how I feel.  I don't hide my mistakes.  Every once in awhile I get mad because someone judges me, but I get over it pretty quickly.  I do my best.  If that's not okay with them...well, what can I do about that?

Most of my other fears were about what might happen in the future.  I didn't think good things were going to happen - just stuff I was sure was going to be terrible and cause me great emotional pain.  Some stuff like that did happen and sure enough I had pain.  But all the worry ahead of time didn't make it hurt less.  Besides, a lot of the things I feared never happened.

The bottom line was that fear was not all that useful.  So I was more willing to consider the possibility of outgrowing it in favor of reliance on God.  Stuff does happen that I don't like, but my job is to let go of my resistance and be willing to let God be in charge.

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