Often “fear” keeps us in jobs that frustrate us, on career paths that we find unfulfilling, in relationships that are unsatisfying and so the list goes on. For most people, fear ranks up there in the top 2 or 3 things that stop us from trying to achieve our dreams and the things we REALLY want in life.
We all face different fears; fear of disappointing others, of not fitting in, of being ostracised, fear of failure and even fear of success – most fears are made up from our experience of life, particularly our childhood. Don’t panic – I’m not get all Freudian on childhood, but you get my drift. Experience, including experiences that produced or reinforced fears, is what shapes us and make us all different.
So, is fear a weakness?? Or is it actually a force for good?
As time has gone on, I’ve started to realise that fear can be incredibly useful!
Combine fear with courage and what do you get?
How often do you hear someone (maybe you?) say “if only I was brave enough to….fill in blank)!”
I used to think that other people were courageous when they did things I wouldn’t dare do. But on reflection, isn’t it only brave to do something YOU fear doing? If a person isn’t scared of doing it, it demands no braveness on their part at all.
In other words, braveness is only in the heart of the person who needs courage to do that thing.
But combine fear and courage and what happens is positively explosive.
Think of performers as a good example of this – musicians, singers, speakers etc. they are often heard to talk about the heady cocktail of their emotions right before they get on stage. It’s a mixture of courage and fear flooding over them at the same time. And they talk too about how this drives them to perform better than they ever have before. It’s a powerful mix.
In everyday life for most of us, fear and courage co-exist, working together to helping us accomplish our goals and hopes and dreams. They help us face challenging situations and every time we face our fears and have a victory, they then become a part of who we are, inspiring us on to the next step. It’s when they get out of balance that we are in trouble.
Therefore, mixing braveness with fear in appropriate and carefully measured quantities accentuates courage overall and encourages us into action.
Fight or Flight – a lifesaving bodily reaction!
Fear is a very necessary evil for every one of us. It keeps us safe. Without fear, we’d be in trouble! In short, we need it to succeed.
It’s a shame our bodies don’t immediately recognise that situations that simply make us feel very uncomfortable aren’t in the same league as looking directly into the mouth of an angry lion! So even if we know we’re not in danger of losing our life, we still somehow face the situations we really fear, but wish we could overcome, with all the adrenaline of a person in total terror.
But even still, fear and the adrenalin it can produce can become very helpful to us in these situations.
Take a step back and stick with me on this.
We become used to how we are, even if its not the life, the job, the career, the business, the relationship (and so the list goes on) that we want because we hold ourselves back, usually for fear of a mixture of real and imagined reasons. For example, we might fear that if we ditch a job we hate or a relationship we’re not happy with, we’ll never find better.
We don’t like the feelings that fear creates in us. As a result, we hold on to something that’s not good enough rather than strive for something better. But wouldn’t it be better to create real, meaningful alternatives to these kinds of scenarios? Because still we want to grow – as a person, grow business, become more financially stable, achieve that long held dream, break into new areas?
And if we learn to face these fears head on, we can diminish and even get rid of any hold they have over our lives. We need to bring them to the surface and break free of the hold they have over us.
My point is that, even with our fight or flight reactions in operation, it is possible to face your fears in a constructive and positive way that will allow you to make changes, big or small in your life. You can stand and be frozen, like a rabbit in the headlights or you can consciously create a path with no cars ?.
To do this, requires us to shift our mindsets. To move forward, we need to understand what exactly it is that is holding us back aka our fears. Only then can we break down those barriers that are in our way.
(and here is the coaching plug – all of this is what good coaches help you to do!! #pingthinking)
If you make fear your friend, think what you can achieve?
So, in concluding, I ask you that question again….
What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
What will you be able to do because you are?