Practical Ways to Overcome Fear of Men

Views to the Sierras from an arch in the Alabama Hills National Recreation Area, California
Views to the Sierras from an arch in the Alabama Hills National Recreation Area, California

Fear in general is rooted in perceived lack.  “I’m worried that if I don’t work hard enough, I’ll lose my job, and my family won’t have anything to eat.”  “What if the right people don’t get into office?  I could have my rights taken away/watch people suffer/etc.”  “I’m worried that if I ask questions, people think I’m not very smart… but I don’t understand, and if I don’t understand, I’ll fail.”  “What if the doctor’s report comes back poorly?  I could lose someone I love!”

Cliffs above Kane Springs Canyon and below the La Sal Mountains from Anticline Overlook, Canyon Rims Recreation Area, Utah
Cliffs above Kane Springs Canyon and below the La Sal Mountains from Anticline Overlook, Canyon Rims Recreation Area, Utah

All of these are rooted in the fear of lacking something – social status, money, help when needed, basic necessities, etc.  It would be nice to say the old, “All you have to do is trust in Jesus, sister; He cares for your needs.”  That’s true (it’s in the Bible, after all!), but it’s not very helpful in the day to day of living out our fears and needs and desires.  Just how does one trust Jesus, anyway?

A shadow of a kayaker on the bottom of Lake Ontario, New York
A shadow of a kayaker on the bottom of Lake Ontario, New York

Today, I’d like to share a few ways that we can go about getting free from the fear of men (fear of other people).  These can be generally applied to becoming free from fear in general, as well as learning how to trust God.  But since that’s a very broad topic, I’ll focus only on the fear of men.  First, here are a few general truths about fear of men:

1. Fear of men is often very self-focused – it’s all about “me, me, me.”  (What will people think of me?  How will they treat me?  If I fail, what will they do to me?)

2. You can’t love yourself if you have fear of man – the two are incompatible.  You love yourself, you won’t be afraid of others.  You don’t love yourself, you will find yourself worrying about what others think because you’re trying to receive their love instead of growing love for yourself and others.

3. Love and trust are very intertwined in a fear of men/fear of self situation.  If you don’t love yourself, you also can’t trust yourself to others.  This may look like holding your thoughts/feelings close to your chest or it may mean that you are grasping for others that you can trust since you don’t trust yourself.

Ferns along the Ledges Trail in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Ferns along the Ledges Trail in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

Second, here are a few ways that you can grow to become free of the fear of men:

1. Find a list of the things that God says about you in the Bible.  If God has spoken other truths to you, make a list of those, too.  (For example: He is pleased with the way you love Him, He loves it when you do something specific, He is delighted in you, etc.).  A few great attributes can be found here.

2. Identify yourself as what the Bible says you are.  This can look like imagining yourself as, for example, holy and seated in heavenly places with Christ (Ephesians 2:6), totally righteous (Romans 5:19), or on the right path (Isaiah 30:21).  It can also look like thinking about your current situations in light of what God says: “God says that He will meet my needs, so I can think about my job with confidence that He will take care of me there.” (Philippians 4:19).

3. Don’t identify with things that are opposite what God says about you.  For example, saying, “No one understands me!” may be tempting in a given situation, but God says that He knows your very thoughts (Psalm 139:2).  Thinking of yourself as worthless when God says that you are valuable is a very quick way into self-judgment and fear of men.

4. When it’s tempting to think of yourself in a way that is opposite what the Bible and God say about you, reframe the thought in light of the truth.  “I feel like a failure, but I know that in Christ I am an overwhelming conqueror!” (Romans 8:37)

Huron Falls, Ricketts Glen State Park, Pennsylvania
Huron Falls, Ricketts Glen State Park, Pennsylvania

5. Deal with past shame.  Look at that ugly situation straight in the face – not so that you can relive it and meditate on how awful it was, but so that you can take responsibility for whatever parts you feel might be your fault or that you contributed to the issue.  Someone once said, “Buried shame is more dominant than unapplied redemption.”  Once you’ve identified your part in the shame, confess your sin to Jesus and repent (turn from it), and then ask God for His perspective on the situation.  When thoughts and feelings of shame come, intentionally live in the knowledge that you are forgiven as well as on God’s perspective.

6. Be ok with giving yourself (your body, mind, emotions) what you need.  This is not laziness; it’s being intentional about working and also intentional about not abusing yourself.

Wildflowers at Nuttallburg, New River Gorge National Park, West Virginia
Wildflowers at Nuttallburg, New River Gorge National Park, West Virginia

7. Pay attention to your thoughts, and reframe them if necessary.  Saying, “I’m not going to think about what so-and-so thinks of me” isn’t as helpful as, “Instead of wondering what so-and-so thinks of me, I’m going to think about ways that I can love so-and-so.”

8. When in doubt, try to love well.  Love is the basis of so much in our lives, and learning to love well – both ourselves and the people around us – is the basis for healthy relationships and will also positively impact our relationship with God.

If you have any other tips for how to walk out of fear of men, feel free to post them in the comments!

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