The prison within - Overcoming fear

Overcoming fear – introduction

There is a prison that has an inmate population in the billions. It’s a prison without walls, without barbed wire, without guards and without any physical barrier. But it is the most effective prison in the whole world. Few escape it, but those who do find real and lasting freedom.

That prison is in our minds. It is a prison that holds back our initiative, our talent, our ability to express ourselves and, most of all, it holds back the fulfillment of our full potential as human beings.

That prison is fear. Our lives today are controlled by fear more than we know. Fear controls the choices we make, our actions, our habits and even our destinies. Fear has become one of the greatest threats to humanity in this day in its many forms. Terrorism has become the pinnacle of fear worldwide. Recent events in the world have shown how fear can drive even those that are powerful to behave desperately and inhumanely. But the effect of fear on our personal lives is more damaging that any terrorist can ever hope to achieve. Fear of life prevents most of us from living.

Fear of life? Yes. “Too many people are thinking of security instead of opportunity. They seem to be more afraid of life than death.” This observation was made by James F. Bymes.

Overcoming fear – the many faces of fear

In its extremes, fear in our personal lives causes anxiety and phobias. For people with such illnesses the prison of fear can seem like a death sentence. Their lives may be totally controlled by fear, making life totally unenjoyable and everyday tasks a real struggle. Fortunately, this is not the most common manifestation of fear. The far more destructive form of fear is one that we have come to accept because it is so common.

For example, I remember very clearly how when I was in my first year at university I met a lot of fellow students that were spreading fear everywhere they went. They would say how difficult the first year of natural science studies was and how badly people were failing the course. They had all the statistics of how many people failed last year and the year before that. They’d say things like “50 people failed that course last year.” What they didn’t tell you was that 400 people passed the same course last year.

All the seven years I was at university, were the same. Every year there were people speaking doom and failure. Often, it showed in the results they got. They were the same people struggling to pass. I, and many others like me, got through it farely unscathed. We chose to see the 90 percent that passed and not the 10 percent that failed.

Overcoming fear – fear can stop you from progressing

There are those of you out there with brilliant business ideas. What holds you back is fear. You think about all the statistics of how many businesses fail every year, or what your friends and family will think of you if you quit your job to pursue your dreams. The fear of not being able to pay your bills, fear of getting fired, fear of starting over and the fear of not having a job title all hold you back. It is fear that keeps most of us in jobs we do not enjoy and, sometimes, that don’t even meet our financial needs.

The fear of taking risks is one that few people are able to overcome. Risk is the potential harm that may arise from some present process or from some future event. In every area of life risk-taking is a necessary thing. If you propose marriage to someone you have to take the risk that they may say no. If you are in a race you have to take the risk that you may lose miserably. If you want to live life to its fullest you have to take the risk of failure. As Dorothy Thompson said: “Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.”

Fear will paralyse you if you do not deal with it. It will absolutely stop you from living a life that you desire. Recognise it. Conquer it. Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice is that “you gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”

Overcoming fear – there’s nothing to fear but fear itself

I’m sure you have had an experience in the past when you really feared something. After doing it how did you feel. Silly? Stupid? The feeling is often one of “that wasn’t so hard after all. I don’t know what I was afraid of.” Trying to fight fear is like trying to fight the dark. You can’t do it. The way to get rid of darkness is to bring in the light. The way to get rid of your fears is to conquer them. “Do the thing you fear to do and keep on doing it... that is the quickest and surest way ever yet discovered to conquer fear” ( Dale Carnegie).

Overcoming fear – you can do it today

Go ahead and start that business you want to start. Go ahead and study what you really want to study. Go ahead and become a musician, poet, artist, fashion designer or whatever else you want to do. Sure you might fail, but you might succeed too. Take the risk today and conquer your fears. Do you want to look back years from now and think I could have, I might have, and I should have. That is a sad way to live your life.

Overcoming fear – the futility of playing it safe

Remember that no matter how “safe” you play it one fate awaits us all. That is death. Whether you take a risk or not you will die. So of what benefit is it to you to be under the yoke of fear and live a life that is way below your potential? Use your life wisely. Free your mind from fear and worry and go for it.

Overcoming fear – the conclusion

There is only thing you should fear and that is God. That should not be a fear of terror, but of reverence. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death.

You are all you can be. Go on and be it.


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In the POWER PRINCIPLES series of books, Dr. Moses Simuyemba, "Africa's Success Coach", shares his knowledge, experience and insight to help you in overcoming your personal challenges and limitations and inspire you towards the life you desire and deserve: a life of greater purpose, free of fear and full of abundance.