Throughout most of our lives, we respond to our fears by placing them into the category of “I’m afraid of”, “I’m afraid of using that new coaching tool”, “I’m afraid of speaking in public”… it’s very easy to do.
Fear is an autonomic response. It dates back to our cavemen days when, if a saber-tooth tiger came running out of the bushes, we were best prepared to win the fight or the race. It’s our fight or flight response. I’m sure you’ve heard of it before.
However, in today’s, much less dramatic world, where a saber-tooth tiger very seldom jumps out of the bushes, perhaps we should try and change our caveman like reaction to things and instead try to experience all the exciting opportunities that exist in life.
Often, the fear that we face in situations is the result of making something out to be much worse than it actually is. It’s a subconscious form of storytelling, and just like all great stories, our fear focuses our attention on one important question: what will happen next? The stories we tell ourselves take us on a journey which nearly always ends badly. And as with every good story, it contains powerful imagery than can easily heighten how we experience our fears
The great thing about fear it that it stops us from taking reckless or unnecessary risks. If I told you to jump off a bridge, would you? No, of course not. But if you did somehow find yourself standing up on that ledge, it would be all the fear running through your head that would stop you from jumping.
So how can we tell the difference between the fears worth listening to and all the rest?
Well, it’s worth asking yourself the question, ‘why’?
Why am I considering taking this action? What is the purpose? Have I got a good reason to do so and do I have some control over the process? It would be senseless to take on an act of randomness, where you lack any ability to be the master of your own destiny. In cases where all the evidence suggests that failure is inevitable, fear is justified.
But on the other hand, if you’ve spent the time in advance doing the work and you’re very aware of what it’ll take to be successful then it’s well worth taking the plunge and confronting the fear. Ultimately, the process becomes fun, rather than scary, and regardless of the outcome you’ll look back at what was an incredible experience.
If we think of fear more like stories, we should think of ourselves as the authors of those stories. But more importantly, if we think of ourselves as the readers of our fears, how we chose to read our fears can have a profound effect on our lives.
What are you afraid of?