Few things in life can cause paralysis quicker than a feeling of fear. I have found myself stuck in place simply because of fear. That’s not a straightforward statement to write or to admit. The mere acknowledgment that fear, at times can be controlling, may be seen as a sign of weakness. The truth is, none of us are immune to fear every minute of our life. I’ve come to realize that it isn’t merely strengthening our resolve that creates success but instead, dealing with our fear that also ensures our future life’s goals. When confronted with an enemy, a great way to deal with it is to find its methodology, be ready for the attack, and understand to counter the strike.
Fear of Danger
Dangerous situations are tricky opponents. Sometimes, you are in real danger. If that’s the case, relying on your intuition is your best bet. The firefighter that is fighting a fire in an apartment notices that the floor is hot, the room is too quiet, and the water has no effect. They evacuate the building just in time to save the entire squad. When in danger, the brain adds cues together far faster subconsciously than we could process in a normal situation. The counter to this fear is simple, follow your intuition on whether fight or flight is the best path.
Fear of the Past
The decisions you’ve made or didn’t make in the past can suddenly flood back and paralyze you today. The great tool that fear uses is self-pity. If you just would have saved more, maybe not spoken up so loudly, or just planned better, you wouldn’t be struggling now. If, and that’s a big if, you could have done things better, no amount of remorse will alter the past. When this enemy comes your way, realize you are creating tomorrow’s history today, and you can create it in a way you won’t regret.
Fear of the Future
This you’ll recognize by its calling card, “What if…” Amid your plans, suddenly you panic thinking about what will happen if it all falls apart. What will you do if you fail to meet any of your goals? What happens then? There is a definite difference between pivoting within a plan because of obstacles you see and being paralyzed and ultimately quitting. Adjustments are good. But, failing to work because you have doubts is to create a self-fulfilling prophecy. As this attack comes your way, pause, and remember this, your life has many successes to build on. Recall all of the times that you’ve had fears that were never realized. Visualize what your life will be like when, not if, you succeed. Then, march on with your plan.
Fear of Loss
If you have something dear, what will it feel like if it’s gone? Now that’s a great fear to face. Recognize the distinction here? Is the loss replaceable or not? If it’s money you’ve lost, you can make more. Houses, cars, cherished possessions are all replaceable. Loved ones, not so much. Face this fear head-on. If it’s “stuff,” realize that it may come and go. But, you can, with time, get it all replaced. If the loss you’re worried about is loved ones or a relationship, create memories now. There is no way to forget this kind of loss. Rather than waste time fearing the loss, spend time cherishing the moments that you do have. In the end, the memories you create now will be what you lean on to get through.
Fear of Failure/Embarrassment
One of the greatest fears in life is public speaking. The idea of standing in front of many people and making a fool of yourself is terrifying. What if you don’t make a fool of yourself? What if you reach many of them with a message they desperately need? In any endeavor, you may fail. As you watch your favorite sport or contest, do you laugh at those who come in second? No, you might feel bad for their disappointment, but you don’t feel they need to be embarrassed. Contrast those feelings with the way you perceive those who never try and squander talent, those who quit amidst obstacles, or those who play it safe by not giving it their all and excuse themselves by saying, “I never really tried anyway.” Those are the ones that are seen as failures and deserve to be embarrassed. The antidote? Give every ounce of effort and let that shine through. That you control. That is what’s remembered.
Fear of the End
What if when your life is finished and you didn’t achieve all that you had hoped? How can you face that fear? Face it with a straightforward observation that those who make their mark in this world are not necessarily wealthy or famous in the usual way. You will be remembered for the way you were on your journey, not the destination you reached. Will you be remembered for the many you helped as you went, day by day, toward your goals? Will people remember how you treated others? If you leave your historical footprint by helping others and treating them as you wanted to be treated, you need not have fear.
Summing it All Up
Fear is a great foe. It never leaves our world. Problems aren’t erased by money. Hollowness isn’t fixed by adoration. One fear just takes the place of another. The right antidote for fear is the realization that you live in a world where hope is at your disposal. Grit covers up for lack of talent. Love is the answer when all else seems hopeless. Churchill was right, “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.” Your life is yours for the taking. Live it, don’t fear it.