I have always furrowed my brow at the sheer thought of why anyone would walk onto a bridge, strap themselves up into a harness, step out onto a ledge, then… five, four, three, two, one… JUMP!
Who does that?
Now don’t get me wrong. A girl likes a little thrill every now and again. But there are many a thrill that I can think of than bungee jumping my a** off a bridge!
I get the same rush at the thought of standing in front of an audience to speak or walking away from a guaranteed paycheck to start a nonprofit and even writing this blog.
Let’s be real. Are we really thrill-seekers or are we choosing to engage in extremities so we can feel alive or confront something deeper? Like . . .
The truth is we become paralyzed by Fear. It forces our minds into overdrive, thinking of all the reasons why an idea wouldn’t work, couldn’t work, or why it would flat out fail. Before long, Fear snatches you up so quickly you don’t even know what hit you.
When I decided to step out on faith to launch a nonprofit, the thought of giving up a paycheck I knew would appear predictably twice a month in my bank account, literally made me hyperventilate. But what I know that was more powerful than Fear was the fact that I knew my life was meant for something more purposeful. I asked myself if that paycheck was more important than living. Yes, my predictable paychecks permitted me to pay my bills, buy anything my heart desired, (well, almost anything), and feel safe. But . . .
Playing it safe is sooooo boring!
Now let’s not get it twisted. I know there are circumstances when choosing to be safe is the right call to make. But I’ve also seen people live so safe, they were confined to a cocoon of sorts and I wonder whether they are living at all.
Case and point: My parents worked hard all their lives so they could save enough money to buy their retirement dream home. A few months after they purchased their home, my mother was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer and died shortly after. Losing her not only broke my heart but also solidified my resolve to never want to live safe again.
Fear became my friend!
I’m not talking about trivial Fear, like being afraid of heights or walking in the woods alone at night because I might get eaten by a bear. Hell, you won’t catch me walking in the woods at night, bear or not.
The Fear I’m talking about is the one that hangs out in your living room, reminding you why you wouldn’t, shouldn’t, couldn’t do something.
Fear is as real and as certain as life. It’s a natural part of being human. So what you had a little setback. Maybe even got knocked square on your butt! Trust me, I’ve been there. But are you really going to let Fear bully You?
Say it again, and this time, put a little hell in your voice.
Good! Now let’s kick Fear’s little behind out of your living room and gnaw on the following 7 reasons why fear isn’t real.
1. Fear is simply a thought process
If you are a movie fanatic, it’s possible you might have come across Will Smith’s segment, ‘Fear is not real’ in his ‘After Earth’ movie. The assertion portrays fear as a thought process rather than a material thing. Meaning the only place fear can exist is in our thoughts. Think about it… can you show me what fear looks like – its color, odor, sound?
Although fear can cause physiological, psychological, and emotional consequences that are real, it can also provide other benefits which include keeping us safe when we sense danger or triggering us to take action.
2. Fear is a choice
Though fear is a feeling, it is also a choice. As a human that is immersed in the full force of uncertainty, you have the choice to choose between living in constant fear of your life’s challenges or tackling them head-on with the right dose of hope and determination.
Remember your choice determines how you respond to the raving fire of fear. Would you allow fear to make decisions for you? Think about it!
3. Most fears of the future are a manifestation of your past
Did you know that fear could be a result of past experiences or the dread of having a past negative event repeat itself? Think of a past event where you were honored for doing something spectacular. You tend to shelve the idea because it’s easier to focus on the negative experiences than the positive experiences.
Positioning yourself in a way that draws you closer to achieving your goals and dreams requires that you let go of your past so you don’t get stuck in it.
4. Fear is irrational
You probably have seen movies that depict dinosaurs as terrifying animals and then talk about how much you fear them. Isn’t it strange that you are afraid of what doesn’t exist any longer? This is how irrational your fears could be.
Living a life of fear is a way of letting go of your rationality. I let reason guide my action – not fear.
5. Fear is an illusion
Don’t get me wrong. It is not to say that we don’t get afraid. The driving force is, most of the time, the chances of what we fear materializing into reality are often low. Since I realized that fear is more of an illusion than a reality, I have succeeded in outsmarting, maneuvering, and overpowering it.
Here’s something I want you to try: today, commit to doing one thing that you have always been afraid to do; and then, see if the fabricated stories you told yourself would happen, actually happen. If not, then I want you to laugh at yourself and get on with doing you!
6. Fear has no power on its own
Don’t berate yourself for having fears. Be gentle with yourself, and know that fear wields no power on its own, other than the one you give to it.
Although fear will try to exert its power over you, all you need to do to prevent it from holding you back is believe in the potency of your courage. The more you believe in yourself and the less you believe in fear, the more you are able to confront and overcome it.
7. You can’t fear the future you don’t know
Here’s some honest advice. You ain’t a psychic! Well, maybe so, but still, just hang tight with me here. Let’s be realistic: It is common that we peep into the future to make plans for it. However, how is it possible to fear a future which you don’t know? If you do, then you’ve allowed fiction, rather than reality, to scare you.
With my inability to have a clear view of the future, even though I have plans, I simply focus on the present and paint a picture of victory even if I’m yet to achieve my goals. I shape my future rather than fear it.
Here’s the good news:
Merely recognizing the source of your fear – that is, your thoughts – gives you freedom on how you respond to it. So when Fear freaks you out, you have two choices: You can go bungee jumping your a** off a bridge, or you can acknowledge that your fear isn’t real, and get on with it!
The harness is in your court.
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