Beliefnet
Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Fear can be stronger than glue in keeping you stuck in many ways. Most DoorMats please everyone because they’re scared of not getting approval. Fear of loneliness also motivates staying a DoorMat. Fear kept me stuck in DoorMatville for many years on many levels. Often I didn’t even know what scared me but I was afraid to rock the boat and risk losing people I thought I needed.

Even irrational fear can make sense to an insecure person.

Looking back, I realize that fear controlled me, as it does for many people. When you make your decisions based on avoiding things that scare you, you aren’t in control of your life. Fear is. As I considered leaving DoorMatville, I realized how little control I gave myself. Stepping out made me face my fears and gave me back control. It was scary. But, I realized that sacrificing my joy in life by letting fear control my decisions was scarier.

When you do something that scares you, you take the reins of your life.

I took those reins when I began to say “no” to people. Once I did it the fear turned into feeling empowered. When I saw that terrible things didn’t happen, it became easier to turn down requests. The more things I did that scared me, the less fear kept me stuck. I was still afraid and still get scared about doing certain things. But my courage is stronger and fear controls me less.

Courage doesn’t mean you’re never scared. But it helps you control your response to what scares you.

I no longer get irrational about the outcome of something I’m scared of and know that in most cases I can handle the results, even if I don’t like that. Knowing that makes it worth taking risks and pushing through fear instead of letting it paralyze me from going after what I want or slowing me down too much. I can keep it all in perspective now since I’m in control!

One thing that’s helped me was remembering back to times when I faced my fears. Think about your own small victories over what you were scared of, even if you have to go back to childhood.

Kids take risks. They go after what they want much more easily than adults do. Sometimes they have too much bravado for their own good and can get hurt, but they don’t care. Next time they’ll go forward to their goal without a worry. One of my motivational memories occurred when I was 17 and learning to drive. I was a sassy teen who thought she could do anything. One day my dad had to go to a store a few towns over said I could drive him there. We could have taken the streets but I asked if I could take the highway.

To my astonishment, he agreed. I never in a million years thought he would and began to panic inside. I’d never gone more than 25 miles per hour and the speed limit on the highway was 50. I asked if he was sure I should. He said he had confidence in me. If I thought I could, I could. I really didn’t know since I had no idea how it would be to drive fast. I could have decided to just take local streets but my pride wouldn’t let me so I got onto the highway, shaking inside. I felt comfortable until Dad said I was going way too slow.

Accelerating was terrifying. I got up to 40 and prayed as Dad encouraged me to go faster. Getting to the exit was the longest 10 minutes I can recall. But I did get up to 50 and didn’t crash the car! My dad was proud of me. My own pride was staggering. I got my driver’s license soon after and the first time I had the car I drove on the highway to a favorite hangout with friends. While I had a few close calls that scared my friends, having done the first trip with my dad showed me I could conquer driving on the highway. Remembering that time reminds me I can conquer my fears.

Letting fear control you leaves you stuck and feeling powerless. Controlling your response to what scares you gives you the power to do what you choose.

Next time you’re scared to do something, think about what you can do to take control. Write down what scares you as I talked about in my post, Paper Your Fears. Remember times when you or a friend pushed through a fear to get results. It’s YOUR choice—let fear control your decisions and control your response to fear. The latter gets you SO MUCH more!
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