Let’s talk about the F word.
You know that four letter word that makes you shudder and stops you in your tracks. The word that cripples you and keeps you from taking action. The word that crumbles your passions. The word that keeps you in your comfort zone. The word that keeps you from taking risks. The word that destroys your dreams. The word that kills your creativity. The word that causes us to miss out on opportunities.
The word I am talking about is fear. Fear is the ever-present force in our lives that causes us to be afraid.
There are different ways we give in to fear:
We Fear Starting
Whether it is analysis paralysis or procrastination. We distract ourselves with other much more pleasing tasks just to avoid starting. We have excuses lined up and rationalizations for not starting.
We fear to do the work.
Do we really want to be spending all our free time, our early mornings and late nights, our weekends on top of our regular job on something new and risky?
We fear the unknown
Going into the fog of uncertainty is scary. We are creatures of habit and like the comfortable life we have built for ourselves, why go do something that is risky? We scare ourselves because of new and unfamiliar territory.
We fear others
We are too worried about how we will be perceived by others. We fear that if we fail in front of others we will be ridiculed and banished. Especially as we start out as novices in a field and are guaranteed to make mistakes. This keeps us from taking the risks we need to. We even fear succeeding?
We Fear success
Raising the bar on our performance levels means we will need to live up to it and maintain it. How will we handle all the attention we will get? We are afraid that success will change our personality, who we are so we fear it. We fear that we won't be able to handle all the attention we will get when we succeed.
So what should we do about fear? Do we fight it or run away from it? Do we ignore it or do we embrace it?
I recently came across Pema Chödrön, a Buddhist Nun, and author. In her book, When Things Fall Apart, Pema Chödrön shares a great story about how to deal with fear.
"Once there was a young warrior. Her teacher told her that she had to do battle with fear. She didn’t want to do that. It seemed too aggressive; it was scary; it seemed unfriendly.
But the teacher said she had to do it and gave instructions for the battle.
The day arrived. The student warrior stood on one side, and fear stood on the other. The warrior was feeling very small, and fear was looking big and wrathful. The young warrior roused herself and went toward fear, prostrated three times, and asked, “May I have permission to go into battle with you?”
Fear said, “Thank you for showing me so much respect that you ask permission.”
Then the young warrior said, “How can I defeat you?”
Fear replied, “My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.”
In that way, the student warrior learned how to defeat fear."
Stop listening to fear.
That story has a great lesson for us, instead of running from fear we can identify the moment when we experience fear and stop doing what fear tells us to do. We should understand our fears, respect our fears, embrace our fears, but then we have the choice of not listening to our fears.
Is it going to be tough? Yes. Will fear disappear from your life? Definitely not.
One thing is for sure, when you stop listening to your fears you will be able to get started, move faster, and achieve any goal you set out for so yourself so you can become the amazing person you were destined to be.