HomeOpinion & AnalysisYou can escape the clutches of fear

You can escape the clutches of fear

inspiration:with Cynthia C Hakutangwi

Fear has a way of keeping us subdued and tucking us away in the background. It convinces us that we can never accomplish our dreams, tells us to maintain our silence, and often separates us from the ones we love. Fear has an unparalleled ability to freeze us in our tracks, and limit what we are willing to try. Fear makes us lead a smaller life. It is Victor Hugo who once said: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the mastery of it.” How do you master courage to escape the clutches of fear?

Dancing in the wind
Growing up in the deep rural lands of Chivhu, I vividly remember how the boisterous winds before a wild storm would violently sweep through our homestead sending the chickens scuttling away in peril, mother hens reigning in the little chicks into their protective embrace and dishes flying away from the drying table as the leaves got caught up in the whirlwinds swirling away to the next homestead.

The little ones would run to hide behind their mother’s skirts whilst the adventurous ones would be daring enough to chase after the whirlwind totally oblivious of the masses of dust while chanting away “chamupupuri chauya” (the whirlwind has come) with such excitement and glee. The elders would quickly chide this group of daring young ones with threats of being carried away with the whirlwind and never to return. The obedient ones would heed to the call of the elders but the adventurous ones would keep running with excitement chasing the whirlwind and some of them secretly hoping to be taken away to a faraway dreamland for new experiences.

Even though my circumstances were not pleasant during that early episode of my childhood, I was too afraid to let go and rush into the wind with the rest of the gleeful lot. Even though I secretly harboured thoughts of escaping my miserable and lonely life then, I had become very well trained and obediently allowed myself to be controlled by the ‘older’ voices just as every good child should. Looking back, I always wonder what I might have missed out by not releasing my little body into the exhilarating experience of dancing in the wind. I always wonder if conformity robbed me of adventurous childhood experiences.

The danger of fear
The fear response is triggered when facing danger. The “danger” could be not measuring up to a desired or imposed standard, not getting done what you set out to do, not fulfilling expectations (your own or someone else’s), being seen as less than perfect or failing at something. There is also the “danger” of not fitting in and being noticeably different from the norm. All these fears and anxieties stem from questioning your ability to cope with life’s challenges and people’s responses to your actions.

External messages from the media and authorities are also powerful triggers of anxiety and fear. Believing the world to be a dangerous place creates a pervading sense of powerlessness that undermines your personal power and inner strength in many different ways.

lFear manipulates you into forgetting how strong and competent you really are.

lFear negates your resilience. Feelings of helplessness trick you into believing that you do not have what it takes to tolerate hardship and bounce back from adversity.

lFear narrows your focus to mainly notice problems, damage, hurt or harm.

lFear impairs realistic thinking so the scale and likelihood of potential danger is often overestimated. Unless you live in a war zone, a dangerous neighbourhood, an abusive relationship or have just experienced a significant natural disaster, most commonly assumed dangers are less prevalent or disastrous than imagined.

lAvoidance is one of the responses to fear. Self-imposed restrictions on where you go or what you do limit your options and shrink your world.

lFear sabotages creative self-expression. Instead of aiming for your aspirations and dreams, you may censor yourself and remain within the safety of your comfort zone.

lFear prevents you from living in the here and now. Worrying what might happen and anticipating dangers and calamities in the future removes your attention from the present, the only place where you can function to the best of your ability. Dwelling on past events instead of focusing in the present also clouds your perception to the realities and opportunities of the now.

l Cynthia Chirinda is an organisational and personal development consultant, life coach, author and strategist. Her recently published set of books, You Are Not Damaged Good, speaks to matters that position individuals to transition from tragedies to triumph, reboot, restart, blossom and flourish, to do great exploits beyond their worst experiences. Looking at improving your career, personal effectiveness, communication skills, relationships, focus, faith and happiness? Wholeness Incorporated Coaching offers you strategies you can implement today to review your progress and achieve your goals. E-mail:

cynthia@cynthiac.net. LinkedIn: Cynthia Chirinda. Mobile: +263 717 013 206. Website: www.cynthiac.net.

Recent Posts

Stories you will enjoy

Recommended reading