You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' Eleanor Roosevelt
Few things in life paralize me more internally than facing my innate fears. The number of analytical defense mechanisms I have created to cope with this fears seems to be endless, yet, deep down I know that these latent demons will have to be faced or I will not become the man I desire to be. What type of fears am I talking about you might be asking? For example, I have spent many, many years of my life with the fear that I will not meet the expectations of those whom I love and care about. I am afraid that my dreams are unattainable or unrealistic. I fear that I am wasting my trying to figure life. If I were honest, the list would continue, on and on as I spent more time in self-reflection. The point of this article is not to focus on that, though, rather it is to concentrate on the reality that men are made be facing the adversity set before them. If that means confronting the internal or external calamity so be it, but character and wisdom seem to be fertilized in the soil of trials which have been overcome.
So what does masculinity have to do with overcoming these innate fears? I can assure you it is everything. Feeling masculine is a complex topic, and I am far from a qualified scholar on this subject, but I do know that the valuable character of a man who has taken the time to face his inner and external struggles far surpasses the boy who has chosen to run from the path set before him. What does it look like then to stand up for one's self and move in a productive direction? Here are a few steps that I have personally found helpful and empowering.
- Process through and identify what fears you posses.
Something I have realized over the past few years as an electrician is that it's difficult to fix a problem if you do not take the time to figure out what it is. Ignoring the fact that the hallway light stopped working and not asking the questions of why it is failing to work will never fix the issue. I believe that fear is similar. If you just ignore it and do not ask the questions of why and how nothing will ever change.
"To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom." Bertrand Russell
- Get professional help for goodness sake.
I know for men it seems to be taboo to ask for help in these types of areas, but seeking professional help is one of the best things you can do. Let's go back to the electrician example. I could not tell you the amount of times I have helped a homeowner fix a problem that they had tried to address for hours and hours, and then I come trudging along, walk in, assess the situation, and fix the problem within five minutes. There are times when a professional will be able to see things you will never see. That is why it is so important to get help. Hire a life coach, therapist, or find a mentor. I am unsure of how to emphasize this point to the amount of how important I feel it is. Just do a test run hire someone for a month or a couple of weeks and evaluate honestly if it is helping.
You don't know what bravery is until you overcome fear. Kurt Elling
-Focus in on one fear at a time.
If you are anything like I am the amount of deficiencies and struggles that occur in life make you feel overwhelmed. I have found it best to just focus in and work on one at a time. It's like looking at a brick wall that is blocking you from your future and rather than trying to knock the whole thing over you focus in on one brick at a time since you lack the heavy equipment to take it out in one blow. This might take some time but if the desire is to overcome, it just takes patience and persistence. The wall can be overcome. Just take a deep breath and focus in on one fear at a time.
Thinking will not overcome fear but action will. W. Clement Stone