Waging War on Fear: Fighting an Abstract Concept in a Concrete Reality

For me, fear is a rather abstract idea. I mean, it is distinct in the sense that I understand what it is. I feel it often and I know how to identify it. But at the same time, it doesn’t seem to have any one definite source and it is often not even based in reality. Sometimes it is extremely difficult to understand the why behind my fears.

The abstract nature of fear makes it a very complex issue to address in my life. Physical addictions, though not easily overcome, seem much more concrete to me. Quitting smoking, giving up alcohol, even eradicating my eating disorder, were all processes that required me to discontinue certain physical behaviours. The steps to recovery were tangible and observable. Throw away the cigarettes. Pour the alcohol down the drain. Eat food. Don’t throw it up. These were certainly not easy things to do, but at least they were straightforward concepts to grasp.

It’s not like that with fear, because fear is abstract. It comes in many shapes and sizes, and sometimes it sneaks up on you without any reason or forewarning. A threat doesn’t even actually have to exists in reality in order to induce fear in me. Even the perception of a threat, or the thought of a threat, can generate fear.

How do you fight a monster that isn’t actually right there in front of you? How do go to war with an enemy that you can’t see, touch, or comprehend?

Not knowing the answers to these questions has allowed fear to gain so much ground in my life over the past 30 years. It’s as though I have resigned to the notion that it can’t really be defeated. I mean, if you don’t know where the enemy camp is stationed, you can’t attack them there. And if they constantly remain hidden, executing sneak attacks around every corner, they will clearly maintain the advantage. You’ll never get ahead.

To overthrow an enemy, you have to attack its weak spot. But how do you find the weak spot of an abstract concept? As far as I can tell, it is a battle that takes place almost entirely in the mind. You have to get smart, and you have to be quick. You have to remain astute and aware at all times. You have to learn to recognize the warning signs—to sense the enemy approaching, even when it is still a long way off. And you have to be equipped with weapons that will work when the time comes to fight.

When it comes to fighting irrational fear, I have found that truth is the best weapon. When fear tries to pull you out of the realm of reason and into an abstract world where absurdity reigns, you must counterattack by planting your feet firmly in reality and refusing to fall prey to the enemy’s deceitful tactics.

But it doesn’t end there. A good defense isn’t actually enough. You have to be ready to go on the offensive against fear. If you truly want to win the war, you will have to be willing to forge ahead into enemy territory—to the places you never dreamed of going—and fight it on its own turf.

This will look different for you than it looks for me. But for both of us it will require a willingness to identify our fears, and a conscious effort to face them head-on. I’ve realized that if I am ever going to overcome my terrifying obsession with snakes, I am going to have to start desensitizing myself to the atrocious creatures. I will have to look at pictures and videos of them, visit them at the zoo, and one day maybe even touch one… maybe even hold one. The thought of it seems impossible to me now. But it will remain an impossibility for me if I refuse to counterattack.

Fear is abstract, but it is not insurmountable. I have heard countless stories in my life about people who have faced debilitating fear and have come out victorious. Even I have a few success stories of my own. Let’s be sure to encourage each other often with our stories. The battle is exhausting, but hearing one another’s stories of triumph is inspiring. It will motivate us to keep fighting when we want to give up.

If you have a success story about overcoming fear, I want to hear it! Please share it in a comment below, or visit my contact page to send me a message directly! I would love to share your story on my blog to encourage myself and others! Remember, we’re all in this together. And together, we can become braver than before.

16 thoughts on “Waging War on Fear: Fighting an Abstract Concept in a Concrete Reality

  1. Ethan Sloan-Dennison says:

    Great piece! In terms of my own fears, I guess the uncertainty that being a millennial facilitates has caused problems. However, I guess I defeat such struggles by simply getting out of bed in the morning. It’s as simple as that.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. divorcehealingblog says:

    Wow! The article is marvelous. Very eloquently put. I have arrived at a junction in my life where overcoming my fears is critical (even essential) for me to move towards healing. And you helped form my thought on it.

    I have addictions, and like you said, those are easier.. I know what I should not do, and if i keep at it, maybe the addiction goes away.

    I have many many fears. Fear of being alone and abandoned. That one is now a reality. Better or for worse, I am staring that one in the eye and thus begins my epic struggles with all my fears.

    You see, in order for me to believe that I will find happiness, I know now, that I have to be the best person I can be. And the more fears I conquer, I am hopeful, the stronger I become…

    In a dramatic sense, I see myself as Hercules embarking on my 12 labors.

    When I was younger, I conquered Stage-fright, by pushing myself into it more and more. And I think I intend to conquer my fears by jumping headlong into things that scare me, and persisting.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Correne says:

    When I was 19 my parents moved to the US and I was left in my own in the city I grew up in. At the time, I was living with an alcoholic abusing boyfriend. Fear was 1 of the reasons I didnt leave. Where would I go? Who would take care of me? I would be alone.
    I finally got the courage to leave. With only my clothes in a suitcase and alot of debt!
    I learnt after a few months of being on my own that I could do it. I learned that I could accomplish things on my own! I knew I could be independent! It wasnt until after that independance and self growth that I met my now husband.
    God knew I needed to learn about me and learn to love me before I could love others the way they need to be!
    Talasi, everytime I read your stories your strength strengthens me!!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Nicolle says:

    This is probably a pretty minor story, but here goes! I play the piano as a hobby with only myself, my husband and my (unwilling 😛) neighbours as audience, but I have stage fright so it’s been around 10 years that I performed in front of an actual audience. When my office department organised a team social dinner event at a hotel banquet hall, I took the plunge and offered to perform in front of the people!

    But there were a lot of hurdles – the hotel didn’t have a piano, so I had to look for a colleague with an electronic keyboard, but I had never played on anything besides an acoustic piano, so I had to practice on it. But my usual songs on my acoustic piano didn’t sound good on the keyboard (in the absence of the sustain pedal), so I had to learn new songs. But it usually took me months to learn a new song, and I had to learn 6 new songs that aren’t my usual style of playing in 2.5 weeks!

    Many times throughout the 2.5 weeks I thought many times about giving up. Most of the days I see-sawed between being unhappy from the pressure, reminding myself that I volunteered for this, and sometimes pep talking myself into believing I could do this. Many of the days I thought of just playing one of my usual songs and not caring that it’d turn out horrible in my ears, but then my pride as a pianist wouldn’t let me.

    In the end I persevered with my 6 new songs and played it on stage. I made quite a few mistakes, inwardly groaned at each one of them and hoped they didn’t notice it. In the end, after the event was over, many people came up to me and said, “What a great performance!” And that just made my day. 😄

    Hey, I could use this as a new post at my blog! Thanks for the idea, Talasi! 😛❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  5. jlstanding says:

    “How do you fight a monster that isn’t actually right there in front of you?”

    That is SUCH a great question, and I think it really encompasses struggle with mental illness. How do you fight something that’s within you? It is my purpose to continue to explore that. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

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