Fear often has a negative connotation with it. We think we want to avoid all things associated with fear. We’re afraid of this, apprehensive about that and uncertain about all the in-between. Yet, when we’re honest with ourselves, I think we expect that we’ll have to conquer fear from time to time, if we hope to move forward. Otherwise, how the heck are we hoping to become more than we currently are?
We can’t get further from where we’ve been, unless we’re willing to confront our fears to move past where we are. Let’s just take a minor rewind of life. I’m sure at some point in your childhood, you went to camp (or later in life, you moved to college). Now, there are some of us who couldn’t wait to break free of our parents and stay up late, playing pranks on our fellow camp peers. There are others who got homesick – missing the familiarity of their everyday lives. Now, if a child that was homesick didn’t continue to embrace opportunities to challenge that awful feeling, he/she’s unlikely to ever experience a homesick-free feeling. Right? Taking on new experiences that allow us to confront our fears are the very moments when fear meets courage – and regardless of what happens when these two rivals meet, it’s inevitable that an individual will leave that particular experience better off for bringing a level of bravery to the table. We say someone “grew out of” their homesick feeling…exactly…they moved beyond it.
I think we have an inaccurate idea of what it means to conquer our fears – I think it really comes down to just moving out of our comfort zone. And whether you’re a foot or a football field away from the bounds of your comfort zone, you are increasing your potential. In other words, any action is the product of courage…all inaction is the paralysis of fear. We overestimate how much we have to do to conquer our fears, it’s often less about doing monumental things and more about taking small steps. Think of it this way, let’s say you were standing at the bottom of a massive mountain. At first glance, that’s a pretty scary spectacle. But, all it takes is one step. Then one more. And so forth. Once you reach the top and peer down over each and every groove you maneuvered, you realize, your achievement was the result of hundreds of tiny steps NOT one giant leap…after all, who is big enough to skip the steps and soar to the top with one big stride? Nobody. Fear has this awful ability to distort our perspective of reality. Often, what we think we’re afraid of isn’t even an actual threat. In fact, I once saw the acronym of fear defined as:
F – false
E – evidence
A – appearing
R – real
I’m not trying to downplay how serious our fears can feel. I’m only encouraging you to take a step back when you’re feeling afraid, and do your best to assess what small actions you could take to break through your comfort zone into your courageous zone. As Joseph Campbell put it, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” Often, when we identify our fears, we’ve found our dreams. So, what fears do you want to take one step toward?
For more on fear, I highly recommend reading Fear of Success, a recent post by Dr. Alice Chan. Dr. Chan is the author of REACH Your Dreams: Five Steps to be a Conscious Creator In Your Life.