For people in recovery, fear can have a major impact on one’s life. Sometimes, without even noticing, fear can be a significant factor in decision-making or even be controlling one’s life altogether. Fear affects happiness and can cause people to make decisions that they wouldn’t otherwise make. Drugs and alcohol can provide a sense of false courage, so when these substances are taken away people can suddenly find fear to be overwhelming. To be happy in recovery, it is important to recognize fear and learn to overcome it. This will lead to a happier recovery and even increase the likelihood of long-term sobriety. These are some signs that fear is controlling your life:
You say ‘yes’ when you mean ‘no’, or you say ‘no’ when you mean ‘yes’
This is one of the most obvious signs that fear is affecting your decision-making. When people are afraid of judgment, failure, attention, or pain, they tend to avoid doing things that want to do. Even if someone knows that following through on a decision would make them happy, the fear of failing or the fear of anxiety that might occur causes them to do the opposite. If you constantly find yourself doing the opposite of what you want to do or your “dreams,” then you should seriously consider talking to your support network on ways to build courage. Your sponsor will likely suggest that you get outside of your comfort zone and do things that might make you nervous. Though some people will tell you to avoid all risks in recovery, this is often counterproductive. Taking risks in recovery can increase self-esteem, courage, and happiness.
Settling for less is another sign of fear. For example, if you want to be promoted at work or want a raise but settle for a lesser position or settle with your current income, it is likely that fear is playing a role in your decision to not confront your employer or boss. Fear of rejection is the most common reason for fear in the workplace. If you are confident with your performance, then there is no reason to discuss a raise with your boss. Many people are afraid of hearing “no” or are afraid of being inadequate. The less you settle in recovery, the more you will be given opportunities to grow and enhance your sobriety. Staying in your comfort zone sometimes causes boredom and boredom are never good for sober people!
You Are Single and Avoid Dating (but want to date)
If you want to date but find yourself avoiding dates or opportunities, then it is likely that fear is causing you to remain single. Fear of rejection is extremely common. If you want a significant other than it is going to require walking through fear of judgment or rejection. Dates are scary and most people will agree. Going on dates will simply require you to build up the courage and go for it! Sometimes it just takes practice to calm the nerves in awkward situations like dating. Dating can reduce stress and depression because loneliness is a major cause of depression. That being said, if you aren’t interested in dating, then that doesn’t mean that you are suffering from fear by being single.
You Stay Quiet When You Should Speak Up
If you constantly find yourself remaining quiet when you know you should speak up, then it is likely fear is affecting your happiness. This can cause stress and anxiety, knowing that you should have said something and later regretting it. This can be at work, with family, or even just in a public place when you are involved in an unjust situation. Standing up for what you know is right can increase happiness and confidence. Speaking up in the workplace can lead to promotions, respect from bosses, and success with teamwork. When you build the courage to speak up more often, you will likely find it easier to sleep and it may even help with depression.
If you find yourself having very low self-esteem, then it is likely fear plays a major role in your life. Low self-esteem is often caused by fear of inadequacy, rejection, or judgment. Low self-esteem and fear go hand-in-hand and confronting one will solve the other. When I was in early recovery, someone told me that to get high self-esteem I must do esteemable acts. Esteemable acts often require courage and confronting fear. When we confront fear and get out of our comfort zone, we realize our capabilities and acquire more self-esteem. This leads to happiness and purpose, which promotes a strong and long recovery.