There is an experiment that I read about that opened my eyes to the truth about Fear. I’ll narrate the story to you and guide you into my understanding of the inner workings of fear and how to break away from limiting mind sets. There is nothing that stops living a full and fulfilling life like fear. Fear shackles, holds back, and paralyzes good initiatives. Many of our best ideas have never seen the light of day because of fear. Many of us are living way less than our possibilities because of fear. Many of us are stuck with Jobs we don’t like, relationships we don’t enjoy, dreams we haven’t birthed, desires we don’t express, all because of fear. The fear of the unknown, the fear of being wrong, the fear of failing, the fear of falling, the fear of poverty, the fear of isolation. Fear! If you can break free from the hold of fear, not only will your words be motivating, your life will be inspiring. When we break lose from our fears, we unconsciously liberate others around us to do the same!
How fear works is quite interesting, and I think this little experiment clarifies it. Imagine a long flat board, 100 meters long, and 1 meter wide (1 meter is a little more than 3 rulers and for 100 meters, think about the track in secondary school) Imagine it lying on the ground, and you are asked to walk on it without moving off it at any point. If the picture of this is clear in your mind, walking along this board for 100 meters should be a piece of cake. In fact, you should be able to almost close your eyes and run on it. Right? Now imagine that this same flat board, was lifted up to the height of a sky scraper and fixed between two sky scrapers for you to walk on? Imagine, it and ask if you would? The truth is, you will be a lot more reluctant to walk, the board has not changed, it was the same board you would have run on confidently a few mins ago. But all of a sudden now, you are afraid, the fact that it is high up is allowing you to be clouded by the possibilities of what might happen, you are suddenly thinking more about the consequences of falling than the prospects of walking or even running. This is the way fear works, it takes your eyes off possibilities into the real of consequences. You begin to imagine things that may and will never happen, and it stops you dead in your tracks. Fear is the greatest road block to success, and except you learn to live above and in spite of your fears you are doomed! Doomed to mediocrity, doomed to average, doomed to live out a frustrated and unfulfilling existence. If you don’t face your fears, it will back you down into the corners of timidity, batter you into cowardice and leave you an underachiever. We need to understand fear and free ourselves of it’s grip, here is how.
1. The Fear of Being Wrong
“The fear of being wrong is the prime inhibitor of the creative process” – Jean Bryant
What’s the big deal in being right or wrong? Who holds the measure on what is wrong and what is right? Many of us shut up in meetings where we have the brightest ideas, because we are afraid of being wrong. We refuse to write, to talk, to express our views, because we think, we may be wrong. So if you are wrong, what next? There are many things created that you and I enjoy today simply because the creators dared to contend with being labeled as wrong. The world held the wrong view that the earth was flat until Galileo refuted it and ended up in Jail, only to discover later, that he was right. Don’t let the fear of being wrong stop you. Feel free to be wrong, if you are truly wrong, then you would have opened the eyes of the world to another possible direction of reasoning.
2. The Fear of Rejection
“Fear makes strangers of people who should be friends”- Shirley MacLaine.
It’s so amusing, how the fear of what another mortal might do prevents us from approaching them and starting up a relationship. How frequently do we moan in silent love, and refuse to tell the object of our love how we truly feel? How frequently do we like somebody, really want to be friends with that person, and just think – “he or she is a snub, and will reject me”, and never find out? How frequently do we have a relationship we could leverage on, but think rather about wether we could be abusing the relationship? How often do we have the opportunity to walk towards a great man or woman to strike up a conversation and cower giving ourselves loads of excuses? Make that friend today, chat with that lady today, make that phone call now, don’t postpone the best days of your life. What if you are rejected? What does it change?
3. The Fear of Poverty
“Fortes Fortuna Adiuvat. (Fortune favors the brave.)”- Terence.
No one enslaved by fear is rich, either spiritually or materially! The fear of poverty makes poor. Listen to the words of the man with one talent -“Matthew 25:25 I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent. “. Listen also to what the master said about him, “The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest. Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.” Poverty is a state of mind, a limiting state of mind, that paralyzes you from taking risks, and perpetuates you in one state. The fear of poverty is evident in your life if your first analysis of an opportunity is usually reasons why it will not work. You are afraid to lose you current state of life, so you hold on to it, and don’t get the next level. The fear of poverty is the beginning of poverty. Those who rise beyond the poverty are those who have asked themselves what the worst is that can happen, and have discovered that it’s not a big deal!
4. The Fear of Failure.
“Never fear shadows… they simply mean there’s a light shining somewhere nearby” – Unknown
“The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure” – Sven Goran
There are so many souls locked up by this singular demon. They refuse to venture or dare, because the fear they may fail. What is success, however, if not a journey riddled with failure that ends well. Tell me, what type of film will you rather watch, the one in which the star wins from beginning to end, or one in which the battles were tough but the end was victorious? Why waste energy entertaining the possibility of failing that you miss the opportunities for success, for victory and for advancement? Intimidate the fear of failure by facing it, become comfortable with failing, enjoy failing as a process. You never become a failure until your frame of mind accepts it. Failure is a state of mind, it’s the state of mind that consistently believes the wrong things, makes the wrong assumptions and decisions and ultimately regularly ends up with the wrong results. You are not a failure you because you failed, you are a failure because you gave up trying. He is more a failure who refuses to act out of fear than he who tries and fails.
5. The Fear of Uncertainties.
“Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves, – regret of the past and the fear of the future” – Fulton Oursler
“One will never reach distant shores,
if he chooses to remain upon the dock,
In fear his little ship of dreams
may be dashed against the rocks.” – F. Bolen.
Many of us are still doing the jobs we are doing because we are afraid of leaving it. Our motivation for staying is not excitement, passion or interest, it’s because we are afraid of what the choices are. Many of us have dreams we have locked up, desires we cannot express, passions we have buried, all for the fear of un-asked and often unanswered “What if’s?”. The future belongs to those who involve themselves in creating it. To live in fear because of an unknown tomorrow is to let our lives slide past. The fear of uncertainties is the plague of the timid. Ask your questions before you venture, establish the worst and move in spite of it. Don’t be stymied from moving into your dreams because of the uncertainty of what would be, adventurers don’t know where the new horizon is, they are only willing to lose sight of their current shores and then they discover new territories.
6. The Fear of Death
“People living deeply have no fear of death” -Anais Nin
“Think of the better world we could build if men and women, if even for a little while longer, were freed from their greatest fear: the fear of death and the grave” -Robert D. Andrews
One of the most paralyzing of all fears, is the fear of death. The reason you would be hesitant to walk on the board on the skyscraper is not because it is impossible or because you haven’t done it on the ground. The reason you won’t dare, is because you don’t want to die. Interestingly however, the people who live well are people that have something to die for. It is appointed for man to die once, and a wise man once said that we should not be afraid to die, the earlier we die, the longer our eternity J. There is nothing to fear, save fear itself. Let’s quit stopping ourselves short of our very best because of fear.
“It has been said that our anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but only empties today of its strength”- Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“We must travel in the direction of our fear” – John Berryman