Dear Elsie,

Let’s talk about fear today. No matter how strong or brave a person is, there is always something that terrifies him or her. Something that causes him or her to tremble. We are all afraid of something. It could be as mundane as the voice of our parents, insects or quite extraordinary like being afraid of a lion, a tiger, among others.

It is important to note that being afraid is human, you do not need to be ashamed of being afraid of something, no matter how tiny. After all, fear is one of the many things that are relative in life. What sends your heart flying out of your chest, may make someone smile.

Take for instance my fear of dogs. I have heard many people say that the dog is man’s best friend. How and why I was (there is still a little fear lingering in there) afraid of dogs I cannot tell. My fear for dogs was so extreme that, one day, in my bid to avoid them, I ended up on the ground with about three of them howling at me. They were about to bite me when the owner showed up and rescued me. Since then, I became so afraid of dogs, I even changed my route when they were in sight.

Unfortunately for me, many people in my neighbourhood had dogs. At least two out of three houses had a dog or dogs. What this means is that, I was almost always on an errand at a house with a dog. I could not tell my mum I would not go to where she had sent me simply because of a dog, she wouldn’t take that. Therefore, I had to do something about this fear of mine. I had to confront my fear and I did.

I would go to these houses, stand at ease, even when the dog sniffed to confirm I wasn’t harmless I would try so hard to fake being at ease till I became so. And it worked for me. Now I can even offer a dog some bones.

I remember while I was in the university, I attended a drink-up of a friend when her roommate was called to give a short message about the birthday celebrant who doubles as her best friend. My God! This girl shivered for the world to see. The nervousness was so pronounced I believe all of us present then shared in the feeling too. It was too dense we all had to help her carry it. Her voice was shaking in the presence of floor mates and colleagues.

I thought there was nothing to be afraid of, because she was speaking to friends and acquaintances. But I was wrong. The moment she was asked to give that message, we had become an audience and terrified the very life in her.

You see, Elsie, whereas my friend’s roommate’s fear is mundane to me, mine is the same to her.  That is why I said fear is relative. Perceive it in different degrees.

According to psychology today, “fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger. If we don’t feel it, we cannot protect ourselves from legitimate threats”. Fear is not as bad as many think it is.

The problem with fear is accepting it and not trying to overcome it. If we do not work at overcoming our fears, we lose out on many great things in life. Fear is a major setback to achieving our dreams. It makes us hold back. In situations where we feel like venturing and getting the best of what we deserve, fear holds us back. It has a special way of making the experiencer weak. Which is why we should tame it.

I have sampled a few tips from the author of the “Transcending Fear Magazine”, Brian Germain which will be helpful to you.

Confront your fears head on. Whatever it is that you are afraid of, face it. The only way you can overcome your fears it to look them right in the face. As stated earlier, fears can cripple a person. It leaves you paralysed regardless of how strong or brave you are. Therefore, it stands between you and your goal. The only way you can get to your goal is by dragging it out of the fear. Move past it. Do not relegate yourself to what are not because fear stands in front of what you want to be. Grab it, pull it and drag it away.

The first time I was told to produce content for this column, I was afraid. I nearly said “NO”. Not that I could not write, but because I was going to have my writings in public. I was not ready for that. But for some reason, I said yes. You couldn’t become a better writer without having your works scrutinised and judged by readers. I said yes and realised I was ready. Then I started writing. And then it dawned on me that it was fear that was telling me to say “I was not ready. Fear never makes you ready. Confront it and get it out of the way.

Take a timely breath. Learn to breathe in and out when you are faced with your object of fear. Stand, take a deep long breath and let it out. It soothes your inner self, calms your nerve and clad you with confidence to make you deal with your fear. It clears your mind and helps you thinks of ways to deal with the situation at hand.

Practice inner silence or peace. Make your inner environment peaceful. Engage yourself in activities that bring you peace and happiness. Once you at peace, you will be able to deal with what you are afraid of. Fear comes in different forms. For many, you can deal with them when you are calm. When you are disturbed within, it disrupts your thought process and you may not be able to handle issues correctly. Make peace with your inner self always.

As always, I hope you find the tips helpful. Until I write to you again, my dear Elsie, I remain yours sincerely, Fathiya.