3 Ways to Overcome the Fear that Holds You Back

As a child growing up, I knew very little about myself. Yet, one word that seemed to roll off of people’s tongues when asked to describe me in my early stages was “shy”.  So I started calling myself that too.

In 7th grade, I was asked to choose four words to describe myself as part of an assignment. “Shy” was one of the familiar words I decided to use. On the day of my presentation, I carefully rested my brightly-colored cardboard on the chalkboard behind me. A couple of kids in the front started snickering when they saw my board complete with the four words I had chosen. After my initial hesitancy in response to teacher’s request that I begin my presentation, one amused kid spoke up: “Come on, don’t be shy.” Hearing his taunt only made me more nervous, and I cowered in front like a mouse whose hiding spot had been exposed.

Over the years, my struggle with feelings of shyness was the running theme of my life. It even led to a growing resentment of my quiet and reserved nature (something that I still have trouble embracing), so that I would grow defensive when anyone made a remark about it: “I’m not quiet!” I would retort back.

Now, fast forward to my young adult years, and I have come to a point where I have truly been able to detect the root of my shyness. It was fear. If you too are dealing with similar feelings, here’s how you can overcome the fear that holds you back from walking boldly into the plans God has for you.

1.Starve Your Fears

Our minds hold incredible power in determining the people we become and the destiny we choose. Sometimes we unconsciously allow our fears to rule us, and the choices we make. Part of why this happens is that we have a hard time delving deep within ourselves, and acknowledging what most scares us. Once we are able to do this, it becomes easier to confront the fear, because now we are not afraid to say it exists. Being transparent about your fears with a group of trusted friends can also very helpful. We have to stop encouraging the growth of our fears through the practice of self-denial, and instead bring them down to size, just like David did with Goliath: “This day, will the Lord deliver [insert fear here] into mine hand…and all will know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear, for the battle is the Lord’s.” (1 Samuel 17: 46-47)

2.Don’t Back Away

Speaking from experience, I know this one isn’t easy. Every time I have been asked to do something in church, I always give a list of excuses a mile long. Even now, with my own ministry, I find myself constantly trying to get out of what God has clearly told me to do. Remember Moses? He tried to back away too. But in response to his petty excuse, the Lord patiently reassured him with these words: “Who hath made man’s mouth? Or who made the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? Have not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach you what you should say.” (Exodus 4:11-12)

This remains true for us today. I am so grateful that we serve a God much bigger than our weaknesses and fears. How about you?

3.Come Out of Hiding

As a small girl, I remember hiding behind my mother’s skirt when strangers tried to say hi to me, or even looked at me for that matter. When confusion would arise as to my peculiar behavior, my mother would simply shrug and tell them: “Oh, she’s just shy.”

Thankfully I no longer hide behind my mother’s skirt, but I sometimes still feel the tendency to want to shrink away. Fear can be paralyzing, especially when you have spent a large portion of your life playing it safe. So here’s the prerequisite before we can take the necessary moves to step out in faith. We have to “cast out [our fears], through “perfect love” [Christ], because fear has torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)

Today, the Lord has placed a call on your life that may appear overwhelming and perhaps even a little scary. And if you are anything like me, your fleshly desire is simply to run and hide. But as believers, we have to trust that the same God who commands us to come out of our coveted hiding spot, will go before, behind and beside us as we venture into the light. (Isaiah 60:1-3)

So my friends, “fear not”, because there is no longer any need to fear.

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Alexandra Yeboah is a freelance writer and editor specializing in mental health and poverty-related issues. In 2012, she graduated from journalism and since then has discovered an insatiable love of travel, with her most recent trip being Nepal. Her blog, Speak The Words, features stories with a special focus on the intersection of faith and justice:

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Alexandra Yeboah is a freelance writer and editor specializing in mental health and poverty-related issues. In 2012, she graduated from journalism and since then has discovered an insatiable love of travel, with her most recent trip being Nepal. Her blog, Speak The Words, features stories with a special focus on the intersection of faith and justice:
  1. Reply

    Great tips!!I LOVE your references to the Bible to back up your points.

  2. Reply

    Starve the fear – by feeding it the Word Of God! Fear has no chance against the Word!

  3. Reply

    Yes! I grew up with that understanding, too. Several things have helped me over the years. Part of it was learning there is a difference between being shy and being an introvert, and part of it was learning that my shyness was rooted in sinful pride. I didn’t need to be afraid of what other people thought, I needed to follow God’s calling and trust Him.

  4. Reply

    Perfwct Love cast out all fear

  5. Reply

    This post is right up my alley! I love when u make a point and reference the Bible to show! Very well written

  6. Reply

    I have always been described as shy as well, and not until after reading your post did I realize that mine also stems from fear. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of getting laughed at. It’s just so easy to do the opposite of step 3, and hide away. I’m slowly starting to gain confidence in myself, and pushing my fears away. I know I’ll face a lifelong struggle, but I’ve got to start somewhere, and for me, it was reading your post and becoming aware. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Reply

    I love this. It so resonates with me. Am confronting my fears too.Working at it patiently.

    • Meg
    • April 18, 2017

    One of the best parts about getting older is that I slowly stopped caring what people thought of me and embraced myself and all my quirks.

    • Latasha Samantha Dixon
    • April 18, 2017

    It’s. Funny i was doubting him. Until i open my email and here i am.

  8. “Do not be afraid.” First words from Pope John Paul II… one of the holiest men of our times.

  9. Reply

    Yes! This is so good. I always try to face my fears head on once I realize that the fear exists. Sometimes seeing what I fear is the hardest part.

  10. I love your first tip, starve your fear!!

  11. Reply

    I pinned this to my Dealing with Anxiety board. Great post.

    • Tara
    • April 25, 2017

    We spend too much time thinking about how we can get out of our problems. We need to be thinking about how we can meet them head on with Jesus’ help.

  12. Reply

    and take it all to God in prayer – He knows!

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