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It’s not easy to figure out how to overcome fear in life. It sneaks up us in places where we least expect it to find us. Here’s a humorous take on how a I learned to battle it in the bay of a local carwash.

A funny thing happened to me a couple Sundays ago.

I have this weird habit of getting my car washed after church.  I think it’s because I want my car to have a fresh and forgiven start to the week too.  

Anyway, I’m in the wash bay, spraying away and I turned around and there’s this guy standing by my car.  It’s like BAM! He came out of nowhere.  He’s parked his car right behind mine so I can’t back out and I immediately go through the six ways on this Sunday that this situation could go wrong.

I think “I can’t call for help because I left my phone in the car.  I can’t run away because the babies are in the back seat.  Maybe if I blast him with the sprayer, I can catch him off guard, hop in the truck and try to gun it out of there!”

From somewhere in the back of my brain, the word “fear” start pulsating.  Why am I afraid?  Is it because he’s a man and I’m a woman?  Is it because I’m white and he’s black?  I decide to offer a “Can I help you, Sir?”  

He pulls his mask down and yells at me “Is this where I may wash my car?”  

A woman in a light blue button down collared dress shirt raises her arms in a questioning manner.   Her thick brown hair is braided and trailing down the front of her body.  The look on her face is one of confusion.  The background is white.
Why was I afraid at the carwash?

Obviously, I’m really confused.  

He continues, in a very strong accent “I am from Africa.  I want to wash my car.  How do I pay to do this?”  

I start laughing, a tiny bit maniacally, and start to explain how him how he can drive to the next bay and use his debit or cash to buy time on the machine.  I’m also turning eight shades of red because I let my imagination run wild and awkwardly say “Welcome to America” as he backed away slowly and got in his car.  

On the way home, I looked at my kids in the backseat and wondered how did we get like this?  They are born, without fear and then we teach them to fear because that keeps them safe.  Then, when we grow up, we have to reteach ourselves how to not fear people who are different.  

I share my mishap today to show how fear can implode a relatively simple situation.  The gentleman today had probably been trying to get my attention before walking up to the bay.  The sprayer was loud and I was lost in my thoughts.  How was he to know that social distancing also includes vehicles?  

It all starts with fear…

If you’ve not heard of her before, I highly recommend reading Braving the Wilderness Brene Brown. Her research, is in part, a reason that the carwash situation did not turn sour. While I don’t want to give away all the good stuff, she is able to turn fear on its head with introspection. The questions that I asked myself were inspired by the study of her work. It helped me clear my head to make an informed decision on how to act. This is not a paid post or a sponsorship but a genuine sharing of information that I found to be incredibly helpful.

A photo of the author and researcher, Brene Brown.  She is sitting on a gray couch and smiling at the viewer.  She is wearing a red tank top, on olive jacket, and blue jeans.  She is holding her glasses in her hand that is draped over the armrest of the couch.  She is wearing several necklaces, mostly beads and turquoise.  The background appears to be an office with wood floors, and woven gray rug, and an teal painting with white and brown designs.
Brene Brown
Photo Credit: Maile Wilson

How to overcome fear in life:

Three questions to ask…

Experiencing fear is scary. Our bodies react in ways we cannot always control. Our mind thinks things that are sometimes irrational. When you are experiencing fear, here are some suggestions to help you overcome fear in life.

“What is causing me fear?”

Individuals that I have worked with anxiety disorders often struggle to define their actual fear. Their bodies and minds are so keyed up for a “fight or flight” response that they struggle to put a finger on the actual cause. Give yourself a little grace when you find yourself unable to determine the basis of your fear. Take some time, reflect, and even journal. Writing it out on paper can be incredibly therapeutic. In my situation, it was easy for me to point out what I was afraid of but not so much of the “why”.

“Why do I fear this?”

Practicing this question will help you determine why you are fearing the situation you are encountering. It’s a little awkward because the world feels like it slows down and it feels like everyone is waiting to see what you do next. When I was in the carwash, I asked myself over and over “Why am I afraid?” Even though I didn’t come up with a great answer at the time, it gave me a little brain space to separate my emotions from my behavior.

Is this fear “for real”?

The feelings of panic and anxiety are real. But, that does not always mean the threat is real. Anxiety disorders can develop when fears take over everyday life. You can read more about anxiety disorders at Mayo.com. As a mom, I often find that many of my fears revolve around my children and their safety. Perhaps it’s instinctual, but I know that a great many of my feelings that day occurred because children were with me. Was I in danger? No. But, had I reacted with fear, it could have harmed someone else.

When I posted this on Instagram, I received some great comments about how fear can be serving, especially in making safe decisions as a woman in today’s society. I agree that the desire to want to be helpful can lead women to a situation where their safety is compromised. What I hold steadfast to in my situation is that the fears that I initially had were somewhat irrational considering all the facts I had at my disposal.

Thank you for reading “How to Overcome Fear in Life”

I hoped you enjoyed this post. Please feel free to check out my other writings at www.themommster.com.