What is it that draws us to be scared?
- Scary movies
- Houses of Horror
- People or things jumping out at us in a house of mirrors
Do we like to be scared or crave the adrenaline rush of surprises?
One place I discovered I don’t like to be scared or face fear is in my relationships.
And I’ve found I’m not alone. Most women I coach express the same: how do I stop being afraid he’s lying to me or not telling me everything related to his struggle with porn use?
I can’t answer that question in a simple one-two-three, and poof, you’re not afraid. I wish it were possible.
When it comes to facing fear, you have choices. Choices help you learn to keep fear under control instead of it controlling your life.
3 Active Choices to Face Your Fear and Keep It Under Control
1. Name it.
During my recovery from suicidal depression, my counselor taught me how to put a name to the thing that kept me up at night. Those anxious thoughts controlled my mind, affecting my physical body and emotional outlook. Those fears chased sleep away. Many nights I lay with my heart pounding, my palms sweating, and wondering why I felt this horrible fear.
My husband slept while I tossed and turned, often fighting tears until I discovered the power of putting a name to my fear. When I did that, though the fear lurked under the bed like the proverbial monster, I could engage my rational mind to deal with the reality of that fear. The gift of understanding lessens the monster’s bullying. Putting a name to the fear also helped me unpack what I could or couldn’t control related to that scary moment. But naming the fear alone didn’t lessen the emotional feelings. I had to take another step.
2. Face it.
Why do many fears attack you at night? The Sleep Foundation says anxiety often increases at night because you focus on your worries with fewer distractions than during the day. Being overly tired because you didn’t sleep well also increases anxiety, which is a nasty Catch-22. You’re exhausted but can’t sleep because your mind obsesses about one thing or another. Ugh.
Once you name your fear in the darkness of the night, then you must face it. One way to do this is by practicing the “What Then?” game. You can do this while lying in bed, but it also might help to journal through it. What happens if your fear comes true? State it or write it out. Then what? This would be the next logical step in the progression of the dire circumstance. You continue this process until you can’t come up with anything else. Let’s look at an example.
Face the fear: my husband’s porn use will drive him to have an affair. What happens if my fear comes true? I have to deal with him having sex with another woman. I hate that thought.
Then what? I might have to confront him about the porn use and the affair, and I’m afraid of what might happen in that confrontation.
Then what? If I confront my husband, he might get angry or threaten to leave me. If he leaves me (my worst fear), how will I support myself and the kids (another fear)?
Then what? I’ll probably lose the house. I love my home.
Then what? I’ll have to find another place to live. I don’t want to do that because it’ll probably be an apartment or something small that needs much work. I don’t know how to do most repairs.
Then what? I’ll be on my own. That frightens me (another fear).
Then what? I’ll have to find a job. I haven’t worked since the kids were born. Who would hire me now (another fear)?
Then what? I’ll have to find someone to care for the kids during the day. I never wanted my children in full-time daycare.
Then what? I’ll figure it out and learn how to live this new life.
This process continues until you get to the last argument. The key is to argue with yourself about this fear until you run out of objections. Now you’ve named and faced the fear, but your next choice matters most.
3. Abandon it.
You can name and face it, but until you abandon the fear, it will attempt to control your thoughts and emotions. How can you abandon the fear?
Believe and act on God’s truth. God says he didn’t give you a spirit of fear. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” In the first chapters of the Old Testament book of Joshua, God challenges Joshua to be strong and courageous in the face of the unknown. Often, fear takes over because we don’t know what will happen. Joshua realized he had a choice to make. He could believe that God would keep his promises to Joshua and the nation of Israel, or Joshua could succumb to the fear of the unknown.
To finally chase the fear monster, you must choose what to believe: the fear that threatens to overwhelm you or the God who promises never to leave or abandon you.
That sounds simple, but walking this out every moment of every day requires a new mindset. So often, when I wrestle with debilitating fear, I force my mind to quote Bible verses about trusting and taking God at his word. Download a free list of these verses here.
What fear are you facing today?
Instead of pushing it away, name it, face it, and abandon it. You choose to control your thoughts, not the fear. That monster won’t slink away quickly, but you will win the battle with enough practice.
If your fear centers around your husband’s porn use, let’s talk.
I have first-hand experience facing that fear. Together, we can work to silence that monster so you find the freedom to be who you are and find hope that life is worth living.