Looking back at our first few days of recovery, when we were free of drugs or alcohol for perhaps the first time in many months or years, we undoubtedly experienced a rush of fear. Sometimes it may have seemed like the cloud of fear clung to us, became a part of us, and put a big block wall in front of any hopes we may have had of maintaining our sobriety or pushing forward with our goals.
Indeed, we may have been so fearful that we had no goals. So many of us ran up against this formidable wall of fear that we felt hopeless, helpless, confused and worthless. That’s what fear does to us. It makes us feel as if we’re not worthy or deserving of happiness, that we don’t have what it takes to embrace opportunities, to face challenges, even to live in peace and serenity.
How did we ever move past fear? When we experience the shiver of fear today, what strategy do we employ to get past it? Likely as not, we’ve adopted and adapted techniques we’ve heard about in the rooms or from our sponsor. For many, this is a process of trial and error. What worked yesterday may not work today, or it may only work for minor fear and not fear of the paralyzing kind.
The key to successfully overcoming fear, however, lies not in what we do, but the fact that we do it. Once we have found an effective way to counterbalance fear and take action according to our recovery plan, we are on the right path toward defeating fear completely. Not that we will never be temporarily visited by fear, but we won’t be stopped in our tracks by it, either.
The admonition that we should face our fear in order to overcome it makes a lot of sense. Many times, if we are being honest with ourselves, what we feared most in the past didn’t turn out to be so overpowering after all. We often exaggerate the consequences of what we’re most afraid of, giving it more power than it deserves. In fact, we have all the power. We can look fear in the face, acknowledge the emotion, and then proceed with our action plan in accordance with the goals we’ve set for ourselves.
Yes, it takes practice. No, we won’t become expert at giving fear the heave-ho immediately. But we can and we will learn how to defeat it if we allow ourselves to do so and then take action. Look at it this way. We can see fear at the entrance to a garden and tremble to the point where we never walk through the gate to what’s on the other side. Or we can take a deep breath, recognize that fear is only temporary and isn’t a real barrier, and put one foot in front of the other and stride right through that gate.
When we look around, we see that fear was nothing more than a passing cloud, whisked away by the wind of our forward momentum. Overcoming fear, by the way, is courage in action. And each and every one of us is capable of challenging and surmounting any fear that seeks to waylay us and jeopardize our recovery.