Huffpost Canada ca
Andrea Paine Headshot

Facing Your Fears

Posted: Updated:

Artist, Vincent Van Gogh once said, "If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then, by all means, paint and that voice will be silenced.

Fear is probably more a part of our life than we like to think. Some people are afraid to ask a simple question. The fear is that they will be laughed at, or criticized, so they think that it's best to stay quiet. There are fears that we have harboured since childhood, such as a fear of heights or spiders. Then there are the fears we develop as a result of various influences in our lives during our formative years. Those that were put down by someone they loved or trusted developed a fear of letting their true self be revealed. Others may have been traumatized by a particular event, and fear under certain circumstances developed as a result.

So fear has been in or around our lives since we can recall. Sometimes it makes us act in silly ways, and at others fear can push us to be absolutely insulting.

But fear can also be inspiring. Some people are able to look fear in the face, and they aspire to achieve some wonderful accomplishments. Van Gogh is an example.

What about all those people who harbor some fear, but don't think they have the ability to look it in the face? Despite our life history, each of us can respond to that little voice in our mind that says we can't do it.

When I was diagnosed with eight rounds of chemotherapy, my doctor told me I would be given some medication before my treatment to help reduce the incidence of nausea and other side effects. Following my treatment, I was prescribed an injection that I would have the choice of going back to the local medical clinic to get, or, if I chose, I could self administer it. This injection would be instrumental in multiplying my white blood cell count that, unfortunately, got dangerously low after chemotherapy. It would be the same pattern for each of the eight sessions I would undergo.

I guess I should tell you that, prior to being diagnosed with cancer, I had a profound fear of hospitals. So, it goes without saying that I was not going to handle self injection very well. But that's exactly what I did. The following day, after my first treatment I took out the needle with the prepared product I needed to inject in my body. The first one would be injected into my right thigh. Chicken that I was, I called a friend just in case I fainted while I did it. "If you hear a clunk on the floor, dial 911", I said.

Luckily I remained conscious, and along with the completion of the injection, I succeeded at silencing the voice within me that told me I couldn't do it. Although I continued to call someone before each of my injections, the fear I initially harboured had disappeared.

A couple of days following my first treatment, I sat at the kitchen table one evening with my family. We had just finished eating when I suddenly started crying, and told them that I didn't know if I could go through with all eight rounds. Although I felt emotionally better the next day, I mentioned this to the doctor before my second treatment. Putting my fears at bay, he told me that it would be my new normal following treatment. It was only the effects of coming off the massive amounts of steroids I took prior to treatment. More voices silenced.

When I started to run, I used to tell people that I wasn't a real runner. I truly believed it at the beginning, although hindsight proved me wrong. Six months into training I was registered for my first half marathon. Fear took over, and that voice was there again, telling me I would never be able to finish. After all, I was running 21.1 km (13.1 miles)! And so while the voice in my head was telling me no, I laced up my running shoes and completed the race. There may have been some tough points during the race, say in the middle of a very long hill, but the voices were silenced that day. I knew, without a doubt, that I would finish any race I decided to enter.

And you can too! You all have the power to silence those voices in whatever it is you choose. Some fears can be bigger, such as the ones you face when you are diagnosed with cancer. But you can do it, and in the place of those critical words will come others, more powerful and definitely more beautiful. They are the ones that say, "You can do it!" They will also be the ones that give you mountains of confidence, and the ability to inspire others to do the same.