TIPS OF HOW TO MOVE IN COURAGE – What is Fear and Why Do We Fear?
WHAT IS FEAR?
A four-letter word has killed and put more people behind bars than guns. It has brought down more marriages, led to more suicides, and ruined more political careers than any winning candidate’s votes in history. It has caused more losses, bailouts, buyouts, greed, prophecies, predictions, name-calling, blame switching, finger pointing, and downright lying than the greasiest hands on Wall Street.
This four-letter word has cut off more potential, closed the door to more possibilities, and clamped shut down more great plans, inventions, ideas, and creativity than one could ever imagine. That same four-letter word daily steals away courage to dream for more toward a life that matters.
One of the greatest dream stealers that prevent us from stepping out on our dreams and visions is fear. Fear stops us in our tracks. Although fear can be our friend that warns us of impending danger, more often it is an enemy that attacks through our assumptions, beliefs, thoughts, and of course, the unknown road ahead. It tells us not to move forward without evidence, that danger truly exists or will overtake us. It gives us that queasy feeling that something is not right or is strange.
What is fear? “Fear is the anxiety or unpleasant concern we have in anticipation of something we perceive as danger or discomfort. It is anything we perceive as an assault to our comfort, safety, or control.” www.Merriam-Webster.com Fear-motivated thoughts are all about “I can’t,” “I’m not able,” and “I’m not good enough.” While we certainly have fears and phobias of the things, people, or situations in our path, more often we fear the negative feeling we will experience because of that thing, person, or situation in our path.
For example, let’s say a woman named Mary wants to write a book about her life but she is fearful that people won’t like it and others will be angry that she told secrets that happened in the past. Mary is not afraid of writing the book, telling her story or even the people who will read the book. Her fear is the possible rejection, disappointment, and feeling of failure she will experience by others if she moves forward in writing the book.
Our fears stem from our anticipation of something happening. We anticipate negative and terrible things that might happen or things we have heard about, seen through the media, or read. Fear makes us think that something bad or negative will take place, when the truth is we don’t know what is going to happen. Most of us have not been insulted or booed in front of a stage audience, but that does not stop us from going into a panic if we are called to give a lecture in front of thousands.
Fear is always designed to offer a false sense of safety and comfort. It gives the impression that if we stay away from whatever that perceived fear is, then we will be all right, safe and pain-free. The catch is that in that false safety there is also limitation, discontentment, and limited growth. Fear has no wisdom and fear has no truth.
Often we fear not because of the reality of a situation but because of our anticipation of what could happen in that situation. In short, our fears cry aloud that we are not in control of something, and that is not pleasant at all.
Why do we fear? Part of the answer is that we have inherent fears placed in us for survival purposes. Without being taught, our stomachs begin to feel queasy and our heart beats fast when we are on the edge of a cliff or facing a roaring lion. Our bodies alert us to clear and present danger that we should flee from or resist.
Fear conditioning is why some people fear new adventures or certain types of dogs while others embrace adventures and run to dogs as if each were their personal pet. It is why some fear dreaming, hoping, or trusting for a life that truly matters and others boldly go where others dare to travel.
In other words, we learn to fear through the experiences and events that shape our lives. We don’t wake up at age 28 or 50 and suddenly become fearful of asking for help or sharing an imperfection in our lives. We learn through time and experience to fear.
We learn fear from being told that we will be hurt or fail if we try a certain act or take a chance in doing something. We learn to fear by being rejected by someone and feeling the pain of embarrassment and shame and decide we will do whatever is necessary to prevent that type of pain again. We learn to fear after believing years’ worth of lies that tell us our past mistakes and harms have disqualified us from doing great things and achieving new heights.
THE POWER OF FEAR
We fear many things, and we always hate what we fear. While painful, sometimes it is easier and safer to believe we will fail than to believe we will succeed. We fear being alone, being hurt by others, being abandoned, and the feeling of not being lovable. We fear failure, rejection, making mistakes, not being good at something, having to depend on someone, showing our imperfections, and the feeling of not being worthwhile.
We fear taking risks, walking into the unknown, taking chances, and the possibility we will not have control. We fear not fitting into a certain group, being different, not agreeing with others, and the feeling of not being acceptable.
We also fear dreaming, hoping, sharing our dreams, taking risks, and wanting more because in the back of our minds we hear the whisper, “What you long for will never happen, at least not for you.” We anticipate our inabilities, failures, and disqualifications before making a first step in reality.
All too often, the conditioning we receive is based on false beliefs and negative circumstances that leave a message that something is lacking in us and to hope for anything but the easily obtainable will always be out of reach.
Neale Donald Walsch coined the acronym FEAR as False Evidence Appearing Real. I would like to coin the acronym for Fear as Failure Equally Applied to Reality because we often create that as fear’s definition.
More than being false evidence, fear to a great many people equals failure, mistakes, and lack of success. Our fear comes from the assumption that something we will do or a dream or action we will take for the future will result in a failure and mistake. That fear of failure becomes a reality we apply to our lives and avoid it at all costs. For some, dreaming is a risk of failure that is too big to take. That is the power of fear. That is failure equally applied to reality.
STEPPING ON THE BACK OF FEAR
Fear is not the real problem or the enemy: Fear is no more of a problem standing in the way than a person who harmed someone in the past is a true obstacle from moving forward. The fear feels strong, just as the memories and pain of the past feel strong. However, we have the power to choose reality over feelings and truth over lies. We also have the power and choice to make fear a problem or use it to prompt us forward in courage.
Fear is not the real problem. Believing that in order to dream we have to be fearless is the real problem. Fear is a simple emotion that is an indicator of something. The only power fear has, like any other emotion, is the power that we give it to make choices in our lives.
The goal in moving forward is not about getting rid of fear: Imagine the owner of a company deciding that he needed to change his eating habits. Each day he entered the building’s doors to see employees eating in the company dining area. When he rode the elevators to his office, he noticed people chewing gum, drinking soft drinks and enjoying things that were not on his diet plan. When the company owner passed the break room to enter his office he saw the vending machine filled with snacks and treats.
One day, the owner decided that the only way for him to move forward was to rid himself of his perceived problem. He went into the office the next day and had all food, drinks, and vending machines removed from the building.
That action does not make too much sense. However, we often believe similar thoughts regarding fear. If we could just get rid of the problem, then everything would be all right. If we could only get rid of fear from our lives or stop fearing then we would easily grab hold of our dreams and goals.
Remember, fear is just a simple feeling of indication. It has no power and cannot make any choices. Fear is not the problem so there is no need to be rid of its deeds. Resisting fear only strengthens it.
Instead of giving time to a mere feeling and offer it power, try simply walking in courage that is moving forward in spite of fear. No one who has ever achieved great things or accomplished big dreams was noted as being fearless. The greatness of their character was that in spite of fear, obstacles, their pasts, and other dream stealers, they continued to walk in courage fighting to reach their dream.
Eight Practical Tips
The Prevention magazine article,
(Chillot, Rick. “What are you afraid of? 8 secrets that make fear disappear.” Prevention, May 1998 v50 n5 p98 (7).) offer these tips for dealing with everyday fears:
1. It doesn’t matter why you’re scared. Knowing why you’ve developed a particular fear doesn’t do much to help you overcome it, and it delays your progress in areas that will actually help you become less afraid. Stop trying to figure it out.
2. Learn about the thing you fear. Uncertainty is a huge component of fear: Developing an understanding of what you’re afraid of goes a long way toward erasing that fear.
3. Train. If there’s something you’re afraid to try because it seems scary or difficult, start small, and work in steps. Slowly building familiarity with a scary subject makes it more manageable.
4. Find someone who is not afraid. If there’s something you’re afraid of, find someone who is not afraid of that thing and spend time with that person. Take her along when you try to conquer your fear — it’ll be much easier.
5. Talk about it. Sharing your fear out loud can make it seem much less daunting.
6. Play mind games. If you’re afraid of speaking in front of groups, it’s probably because you think the audience is going to judge you. Try imagining the audience members naked — being the only clothed person in the room puts you in the position of judgment.
7. Stop looking at the grand scheme. Think only about each successive step. If you’re afraid of heights, don’t think about being on the fortieth floor of a building. Just think about getting your foot in the lobby.
8. Seek help. Fear is not a simple emotion. If you’re having trouble overcoming your fear on your own, find a professional to help you.
*Taken from “Dream Madly, Pursue Wildly, Trust Completely” available at www.charlottehunt.com
You can do this!
As always, if you have questions, comments or suggestions feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2017 by Charlotte D. Hunt All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopy, or otherwise without written permission from the author except for brief quotations in printed reviews.