How to Win the Wars Within

The battles that count, the real wars we wage, are on the inside. The primary arbiter is fear.

The battles that count, the real wars we wage, are on the inside. The primary arbiter is fear.

We may look calm cool and collected on the outside, but decision battles rage on the inside of everyone. You can’t often tell by looking. Sometimes small, sometimes large, only the worst internal battles we fight are the ones that show.

These battles may be over mundane things. Should I buy the blue one or the red one or neither one?

There are decision battles which will have long term consequences. Should I marry him, or her, or am I making a huge mistake?

Internal life-threatening wars may be waged. Am I going to drink or drug again today or will today finally be different?

The impetus and arbiter for most of these battles is fear. Fear of an unknown outcome, fear of making a mistake, fear of being wounded further somehow.

We were more fearless in our youth. We were eager to try the new, the different, the edgier things. What we lacked in knowledge, resource, and expertise we made up for in overconfidence. But, everything seemed possible.

As we aged and reached our prime, fear began to show up and preside over most of the battles and wars within. We became afraid of losing what we had worked for and accumulated. We traded ignorant fearlessness for over educated cautiousness. Too much began to look impossible to us. 

All of my hardest fought internal battles have occurred as an adult. When I became dissatisfied with working for Radio Shack, I was afraid to quit my job and go back to school and I was afraid to stay on as a store manager.

When I was a drunk, I became afraid to quit drinking fearing I would die without alcohol and I was afraid to continue drinking fearing I would die because of alcohol. When I became burned out as a family physician I became afraid to quit the work I truly loved and afraid to continue on feeling emotionally spent and exhausted.

When my marriage came to an unforeseen and abrupt end, I became afraid of losing the person I loved more than anything and afraid of the prospect of moving on down unfamiliar paths.

In all of those wars that raged within me, I resisted making decisions as long as I could because of fear. But, eventually, life will force your hand and make you decide. Sometimes I chose well. Sometimes I chose poorly, and that’s okay.

With each choice, I learned something about myself. I will tell you I chose best for myself when I asked for, and received, help.

There are hundreds of thousands of quotes, sayings, proverbs, articles and books about how to handle fear. I am sorry to say I have no magic words, wand, fairy dust or elixir for eliminating fear. If there was just one thing out there to eliminate fear which worked for everyone then there would be just one thing out there. That is the truth.

What I can tell you is you are not alone in your struggles with the internal battles and wars you face. Some where, someone else out there is also battling or has already fought fear under similar circumstances. They are fighting fear and indecision just like you, every day. They could use your help and perhaps you could use theirs.

There is one piece of advice I can give you which will help you to win the wars within. Ask for help. Ask for advice from a loved one, a friend, a professional, someone you trust. In doing so, you have won your first skirmish and are on your way to managing fear and eventual victory. Keep moving, fight, ask for help, decide, learn, and grow.

Remember, we are never so alone as when we feel we are all alone. You are not alone. That is also the truth. 

“The battles that count aren’t the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself – the invisible battles inside all of us – that’s where it’s at.” – Jesse Owens

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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