Facing The Thing That Scares You the Most

Facing The Thing That Scares You the Most

Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing ~ Unknown

What about yourself makes you feel so ashamed, so scared, that you would go to any length to hide it?

The one thing that you think you’ve succeed in forgetting, until it returns to haunt you again in some unsuspecting moment.

I know it’s in you, because it’s in all of us; just under a different name.

Maybe yours is called a childhood memory, or an affair that you are hoping will never re-surface, the guilt that won’t fade away, a compulsive habit that you are trying hard to control…

Or maybe it’s your sexual identity or the gnawing sense of emptiness in your marriage.

Whatever it is that you are running away from, you are not alone.

You’re probably wondering how I am so sure. I’m sure because I ran away from it too.

I am 36 years old and I spent the first 26 years of my life trying desperately to convince myself and my family that I was heterosexual.

I was so scared of being gay, and so ashamed of my feelings, that I literally thought I must be a weirdo. The fact that I was raised in a culture where even thinking this was a huge sin, added to the shame and disgust I felt for myself.

So what do you do when you are a first born in an Indian family and your mom is dead and everyone is looking to you to be the torch bearer of the family?

You stuff it all in and get married right? Well that’s what I thought. So I did. It is the single biggest regret of my life.

Long story short, I couldn’t run away from it. Finally breaking down, I went to a therapist and learnt about myself,  let go of the feelings of shame, and slowly, painstakingly became whole.

And what I want to tell you is: You can do it too. However much it scares you, the only way to find peace is to face it. If you don’t, it will find you in your worst moments and you will regret, like I did, not having faced up to it sooner.

Are you thinking “Well what if MY thing is something that no one will ever understand? What if it’s so terrible that were I to admit it, it would destroy my life?”

Trust me, even if you have the scariest impulses, or have done something truly horrific, the burden of carrying it secretively within you will kill you faster than the pain of admitting and seeking help.

Because your fear is more soul crushing that the actual thing that you are afraid of.

Begin the healing process today, using these lessons as a guide.

The Beginners Guide to Facing Your Shame/Fear

1. YOU ARE NOT ALONE

This was a huge revelation to me. When shame or fear takes over, it creates an invisible bubble around you, making you feel different, alone and unable to connect.

After all, everyone else seems so… “normal” right? And you have to live in this world, full of normal people with normal lives, feeling so isolated, sure that no one would like you, or even understand you if they knew your secret.

I totally get that feeling, I lived with it for years too. But it’s a lie.

Whatever you are ashamed of or scared of, YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE.

This world is huge and EVERY story, every impulse, every thought that you fear, is being experienced by hundreds of other people too. Likely even thousands.

And you now something else? Someone whom you admire likely carries a secret of their own too, and may even be jealous of your seemingly “normal” life.

There is no such things as normal. Appearances are deceptive. We are ALL human and there is no need for you to pretend that you are not.

So even if you are plotting the murder of someone (I hope you’re not, but even if you are),  YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

It’s not the impulse that separates you, it’s what you choose to do with it.

Which brings me to the next lesson.

2. Find a good therapist

“Fit” is important in therapy. And there are so many ways to find a therapist who is a good fit for you, that I am working on an e-book about this, but these are some highlights:

  • Ask your PCP (Primary Care Physician) for referrals.
  • Call your health insurance company, describe your struggle in very general terms and ask for names of providers who work with such issues.
  • If you have trust worthy friends, ask them for suggestions.
  • Many therapists now have websites/blogs where you can read and learn about their training, areas of expertise and basic philosophy.
  • Be open to some trial and error.
  • Ask for a “consultation” meeting first, so you can both assess the “fit”
  • During the consultation interview, make sure to ask the therapist about his/her views on topics that are important to you; like religion or cultural norms or parenting styles or sexual identity issues etc; (The worst thing would be to work with someone for weeks only to discover that he/she is an atheist while you are deeply religious or vice versa).
  • At the same time, be open to being challenged on your thoughts. That’s where the growth will come from.
  • Don’t feel like you have to spill the beans right at the first meeting. Get to know the person and get a feel of how good a “fit” it is. Ask questions about what areas of specialization and what “type” of therapy he/she is trained in.
  • Never ever lie to your therapist. It’s absolutely okay to say “I don’t want to talk about XYZ right now”, rather than lie.
  • Once you have begun working with someone, be as consistent and open as you are able to be.

3. Come clean with those who are affected

Through your struggle with the “thing”, if you have involved other people in any way, get help form your therapist to come clean with them. Gathering courage, when I finally spoke to my then-husband about my true feelings, it was both the hardest and the most liberating thing I had ever done. And it helped me respect myself again.

Don’t let your fear take away your integrity.

4. Stay in the moment

During those long lonely days in between therapy appointments, you will be alone with yourself and your thoughts.

In those days, the thing that I found most helpful was to stay in the moment. It sounds simple, but can be very hard to do, especially as your mind is busy churning out a thousand worries and emotions.

If classic mindfulness feels hard, I highly recommend this article and this one to find variations that work for you.

Learning to stay in the moment has been life saving for me.

5. Keep reminding yourself that what you are doing takes a heck of a lot of courage.

If you choose to face your inner struggles and better yourself, you are AMAZING and even the Gods will tremble before you.

I am not kidding. It is easier to face anyone or anything external, than it is to look within. What you are doing is rare, and beautiful. And even though the road is hard, it will lead to peace.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

6. Do something that gives you pride and connection

This is not a 100 meter dash, it’s a marathon. And just like in a marathon, it’s vital to nourish yourself along the way.

What is most important to you? What do you most like about yourself? What are you good at? What activities make you feel connected and needed?

At the intersection of these four things, is the activity that will nourish your soul.

For me, it was volunteering at an animal shelter.

For you, it may be taking your niece to the park every week, or serving at the local soup kitchen, or reading to people in hospice care or writing a book…

Whatever it is, push yourself to find it. And once you do, make it a regular part of your life. Self care is crucial to this journey.

So there you have it. A simple guide to help you face and beat that thing that is scaring you.

You deserve to feel alive. You deserve peace. You are worthy of being understood and loved.

At the very end, you will look back on your life story. Make your looking back be with pride.

Be brave. Be Goliath. Go forth and slay your fears. Break your invisible bubble and feel alive again.

YOU CAN DO IT.

Your soul is desperately counting on you to try.

Photo by martinak15

Kavetha Sundaramoorthy

I am a psychiatrist, passionate about using neuroscience and eastern mindfulness to help people live their best lives. Subscribe here for a free E-book on 'How to beat depression using mindfulness', or find me on Facebook.

19 Comments

  1. Hey Kavetha I love reading stories which show total honesty of personal growth. Your strength is clearly felt in your words. I think it is a journey for all of us to learn how to forgive and accept who we are.

    Fear derives from a feeling of wanting to do something or be different. When we learn how to accept who we truly are without focusing on the desire to be different we can diminish the fear’s strength through self-realization and awareness. There is a process to everything and certainly what I learn’t in life is the re-occurrence of fear evolves through repeated mind thought patterns and behavior. Sometimes we just need to shift the pattern which can be achieved through NLP guidance.

    I am a true believer that an excellent way to help to learn about ourselves and allow self acceptance is to engage with live performance activities. For example, stage work such as singing, performing speeches or joining a dramatic arts class are excellent for helping to learn how we feel in front of people, because we learn that in the end we perform best when we are our true selves. Thank you for sharing your heart felt story with us and keep being YOU.

    Reply
    • Nice.
      I am a true believer that an excellent way to help to learn about ourselves and allow self acceptance is to engage with live performance activities. For example, stage work such as singing, performing speeches or joining a dramatic arts class are excellent for helping to learn how we feel in front of people, because we learn that in the end we perform best when we are our true selves. Thank you for sharing your heart felt story with us and keep being YOU.

      Reply
  2. Hi Paul and George,

    Thank you both for reading and glad you enjoyed the article. Public performance in front of a crowd is def helpful, especially for socially related fears. I totally agree with trying to accept who we are first without desiring it to be different, definitely helps set the right mind set toward growth.

    Warm regards,
    Kavetha

    Reply
  3. Kavetha,
    Thank you for sharing your experience. Courage to find the words, or the steps to take in any situation that is life changing is difficult to do. It is because of such inspiring stories that people find the strength to do for themselves. PLease keep sharing!

    Reply
  4. Thank you for this amazing post, which I seem to have stumbled across at just the right time! It’s so easy to become introspective and so involved in your own inner life that you forget this is a planet of many billions of people, many of whom are experiencing the same struggles. Our problems are never really unique to us, and that to me is a helpful thought. Thanks for reminding me of that!

    Reply
  5. I am full of admiration of you, for your courage to finally come out and be yourself. That must have cost you heck of a lot! I am in a truly difficult situation myself. Trying to break free from control, abuse and bullying, mostly by family-members. It creates the same kind of “bubble” of being on my own in the world. Though am not gay, it feels like I have been living my entire life to please other people to keep them happy and being a “good girl”, a good daughter. My role in the family has always been to keep the others happy. My hidden shame is that I want to live an entire life. A life and a job not understood by my surroundings.
    Thanks again for sharing your story.
    Ps. (by the way, I rather be David, you know, sinse he brought down Goliath;)

    Reply
    • Hi Hope,
      Thank you for your kind words.

      I truly believe the first seed to beating fear of something big is to first acknowledge it openly. Kudos to you for doing that. I wish you strength and patience and peace.

      Warm regards,
      Kavetha

      Reply
  6. @ Mercy: Thank you SO much, for reading and for your support 😊
    @ MJ: thank you MJ. Yes knowing we are all connected and many of us share similar problems or fears really helps alleviate the sense of loneliness. Glad you enjoyed it :)

    Warmest regards,
    Kavetha

    Reply
  7. I dealt with extreme fear and paranoia throughout my 20s and into my 30s due to being raised in an extreme religious cult as a kid. Although I’ve had very little traditional therapy, I have learned to overcome my fears through writing songs, reading spiritual books, and more recently using writing as a therapeutic tool. I blog and have written two books. The first is about my forgiveness journey. http://www.danerickson.net

    Reply
    • That mst have taken a lot of courage Dan. Good for you! I do enjoy your blog :)

      Reply
  8. “in the cave you fear to enter lies the treasure you seek.”–Joseph Campbell

    Reply
    • Lovely and powerful quote Charme! Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  9. Kavetha, I admire your courage and strength to be you. Someone close to me came out and told the entire family they were gay. The family didn’t know what to do and it took a lot of counseling from both parts. After a year the family finally accepted their family member as being gay. It was a learning lesson for both sides. I believe the truth will always set you free. Although, the truth does hurt at times! I am curious how has your experience changed your life?

    Reply
    • Hi Veronica, Yes the truth does ultimately set you free!

      I think it created in me self respect and integrity, so I am able to help others without feeling like a fake within.

      Wish you and your brave family all the very best :)

      Reply
  10. Kavetha, thank you for having the courage to be true to yourself and to share it with all of us. The journey out of our darkness is terrifying but fulfilling beyond imagining. Support is key. My coming out journey started 35 years ago. I was very lucky to have a group of supportive peers and two remarkable social workers who made that journey possible at a time when the world didn’t seem ready. None of us are alone if we reach out for the people we need to help us through.

    Reply
  11. Brava! We give our power away to our shameful secrets and reclaim it with self-acceptance – your honesty is an inspiration.

    Reply
  12. Hi Brian,

    Wow, hats off to your brave journey! Yes reaching out and connecting to people who care is crucial in life, especially through difficult times. So glad you had that too Brian.

    Take care,
    Kavetha

    Reply
  13. Hi Lorna,
    Thank you so much for reading and your support.
    “We give out power away to our shameful secrets and reclaim it with acceptance” I love that! Beautifully said.

    Take care,
    Kavetha

    Reply
  14. I really appreciated the part about ‘you are not alone’. It’s so true, and also easy to fall into that trap of thinking that no one could ever understand you. Thanks for sharing your story!

    Reply

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