How to Conquer Fear

I used to think that “fear” meant that you were REALLY scared of something – things that you weren’t necessarily afraid to admit to – like bears, sharks, public speaking, and unannounced visits from your parents. We’re naturally wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain. This is a paradox of sorts because things in life that are REALLY worth having usually don’t come without a little hard work and discomfort a.k.a pain. So we decide how much discomfort we’re willing to experience in order to have an acceptable amount of pleasure and we create a nice little cocoon for ourselves called our comfort zone with familiar surroundings and well-established boundaries. I find it very interesting that we are born with only two fears – the fear of falling and of loud noises. The rest is learned through our experiences and perceptions. I still have a hard time believing that but there are numerous studies that support it.

It feels good…

The majority of people hang out in their comfort zone. I understand why. It feels good. It feels safe. There’s a very low risk of being hurt or uncomfortable. I recommend that you stay there as long as you like, HOWEVER if you feel that gentle tug, that gnawing, that draw to something bigger in your life then I encourage you to step outside. It’s scary at first but if you take it one baby step at a time before long you’ll pause, turn around and look at your boundaries and realize that your zone is expanding and eventually it will engulf you again. You can hang out as long as you want but if you don’t continue to step outside of it, it will slowly begin to collapse on you.

Feeling fear is completely normal, it’s how you decide to deal with it that determines your direction in life. Every time you face your fears and do, or see, or address whatever it is that you’re afraid of – a little piece of you comes alive. A part of you that was dormant before. A part of you that encourages other parts of you to come alive. You will feel alive. You will feel like you are truly living.

They scare me...

What about all of those irrational fears that we continue to feed? I’m embarrassed to admit that I have a fear of unfamiliar door latches. Really? I know, it’s sad. Is it a childhood memory? I mean 99% of the time I’m capable of figuring it out before anyone even notices but I still get that tinge of fear in the pit of my stomach every time I approach one of those funny looking latches that they put on fences around pools. Yes, childproof latches scare me – for no reason – other than the fear of possibly looking like a complete idiot while I try to figure it out. Oh well, I’ve finally decided that I don’t mind looking like an idiot anymore (who am I kidding? I’ve just learned how to deal with it).

If you stop to really think about it, we let fear stop us at so many levels of our lives. So very few follow their true dreams and desires because of them. We skillfully excuse them and easily come up with numerous ways to justify them – and most of the time we don’t even acknowledge them as fears at all but come up with many other “valid”, alternate, reasons why we do something or why we don’t do something. They don’t call it the comfort zone for nothing. It feels good. It feels safe. It feels familiar. I love my comfort zone but I’m finally ready to expand it a little.

What have I really done with my life?

How does one come to the point in their life when they’re ready? The majority of people never feel the need to expand, but some start expanding the moment they’re able to walk and never stop. It’s ok though, that’s the beauty of choice. I could have decided to stay safe, but there would have been a premium price to pay for that comfort. Although I would have been comfortable, never really challenging myself, 10 or 15 years from now I would have woken up and wondered what I’d REALLY done with my life. This journey isn’t for everyone. Most will choose to remain in their comfort zone – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Time flies. The older I get the faster it moves. I know that’s no great revelation if you’re over the age of 20 but because time seems to be moving so much faster for me now, I don’t have nearly as hard of a time planning years in advance because I know it will be here in the blink of an eye. I’m a slow learner though. I’m 43 as I write this and I really didn’t start giving a hoot about my planning my future until a few years ago. I was ok with just coasting, just getting by. I’m happy to say that I’m now on a journey where I’m welcoming the experiences that I fear a little bit. I know they won’t kill me and once the experience is over I feel electrified because I faced it head on and I’m energized to face the next fear.

Life is too short…

One of my goals in life is to teach as many people as possible that it’s ok to feel fear and it’s easier than you might think to learn how to face it and survive. Some fears are valid, like facing an abusive spouse or partner where there is a true threat of mental or physical abuse. This type of situation may require some support from family and friends and some time to prepare and plan. Life is too short to stay in this type of situation though. Embrace the experience, learn from it and move on.

Try to do something every day that makes you feel just a LITTLE uncomfortable. Give it a try. You’ll see how good you feel afterwards and it gives you courage to try the next thing, and the next and then you can slowly expand that stuffy little comfort zone and gain a little wiggle room – a little growing room. Here’s a great video by Brian Johnson. It’s only about 12 minutes long and well worth the time!

Face your fears and stay connected!

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