Overcoming Fear: What Are You Scared Of?
The biggest obstacle to living a happy, fulfilling, productive and successful life is FEAR. It is the single most debilitating factor that prevents us from achieving what we want to achieve. In fact, fear can be so powerful that it often pervades every aspect of our lives. Its effect can be extremely incapacitating if we allow it to be.
Fear is a natural aspect of our lives. It is part of our DNA and has helped the human species survive for thousands of years. It has helped us avoid dangers such as being attacked by a lion or being burned by fire. Fear is what triggers our fight or flight instinct and can be extremely valuable in keeping us alive and out of harm’s way.
However, if not properly understood or managed, fear can have a devastating effect on us. It can lead to inaction, paranoia, unhappiness, and depression. It can paralyze us to the point that it impedes us from fulfilling our true potential and living a meaningful life. Fear can also cause us to make irrational and harmful decisions that we would not ordinarily make.
Many years ago, before I understood the true nature of fear, I was scared of many things in my life: not being good enough, having my feelings hurt, not fitting in with the right crowd, not being smart enough, not being ‘cool’ enough, being alone, what others think of me, etc. These fears affected my life in a negative way, led me to make less than stellar choices, and prevented me from achieving the life I wanted to live. It was only after I decided to delve deeper and understand the true nature of fear that I managed to loosen its grip on my life. And what a difference that has made!
Now stop and think about this for a second: What are you afraid of? What specific fears have been holding you back from achieving your goals and preventing you from living your ideal life? Here are some common answers:
- I am not good enough
- I am not smart enough
- I am too old
- I am too young
- It is too late
- It is too early
- I am not tall enough
- I am not attractive enough
- I do not have the right qualifications
- I do not have enough money
- I do not know the right people
- I do not come from the right family background
- I do not have enough discipline
- Nobody likes me
- I lack the proper skills
- I lack the talent
- I do not have the right education
- There is no market for what I want to do
- I am overweight
- I won’t be able to change
- I will make others upset
- My family won’t agree
- My past is too blemished
- Others are better than I am
- I will embarass myself
- I will disappoint myself or others
- It will be too difficult
- It will require too much effort
- I will get hurt
- I will hurt others
- I lack the proper resources
- I won’t have the time
- My heart will get broken
- I will do the wrong thing
- I will fail
- I will be ridiculed
- I am not cut out for what I want to achieve
- I do not deserve it
The list can go on and on, but you get the drift. Fear wears many different masks, but, underneath, it is all the same. You are SCARED. We have all experienced this paralysing fear and it is not a pleasant feeling
You see, human beings are generally scared of the unknown. We prefer certainty. We like to feel safe. We enjoy our comfort zones. We like our status quo. We fear change.
In order to accomplish great things, change our lives, and live a life of progress and exhilaration, we must venture outside our comfort zone. We must accept and embrace uncertainty. We must be willing to take risks. It is as simple as that. Nothing worthwhile can be discovered or achieved by staying where we are.
It is important to remember that, whenever we set out on a journey to better ourselves and achieve our dreams, fear will come along for the ride. And that is perfectly okay and natural. Because we are venturing outside of our comfort zones, our instinct is to feel fear. We can acknowledge fear graciously. But it does not mean we need to let it dictate our path.
Most people attempt to quell their fears by not embarking on the journey at all. They think fear is a bad thing and they do everything to pacify this fear by playing it safe. Even though they long for something different in their lives, they listen to the voice of fear and do nothing instead. And that is a horrible way to live.
The way to overcome this is by having courage and being brave. Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage involves acknowledging the fear but doing it anyway. It is the only way to move forward, establish change, and accomplish great things. The more courage you have, the less ability fear has to derail your dreams and goals.
When I first started Skilled At Life, I, too, felt fear. That fearful voice in my head kept bringing up all the things that could go wrong: people may not like the blog; they may not agree with my views; the blog may not get read by many people; writing the blog may require too much work; heck, the blog may even be ridiculed. The fear surfaced because I was attempting to do something that I had never done before. I was venturing outside of my comfort zone. I acknowledged the fear but did it anyway. I accepted the fact that fear would come along for the ride, but I refused to let it navigate. In other words, I started the blog despite my fear. And I am happy I did.
Want to lose weight? Fear will whisper in your head (it may even shout!) that it is too difficult. Want to start a business? Fear will try to convince you that you will fail because it is too competitive. Want to stop smoking? Fear will remind you that it is a lot easier to continue to smoke. Want to start your own charity? Fear will tell you that you are not capable enough to raise money. Want to accomplish something great? Fear will raise all sorts of red flags and try to make you believe that you should play it safe and be happy with your current situation. The list goes on.
Fear will always occupy a space in our lives, and that is perfectly alright. We can accomplish amazing things if we do not listen to that fear. All we need to do is to acknowledge it, then have courage and do it anyway. The peculiar thing is that, once we do that, fear loses its grip on us. We learn to live harmoniously with it without following its direction. And that leads to liberation!