How many times in your life has fear held you back from something?
How has it changed your life?
If you take a step back, chances are that fear has dictated a few (if not many) major decisions in your life. And no, it’s not fun when you feel it and it’s definitely 0% fun to look back on the things or opportunities you missed out on because of fear.
I personally viewed fear as something I had no control over. I let it rule the majority of my decisions for a very long time. And while I still feel plenty of fear, as I have gotten older I have learned that if I can take a step back to identify the type of fear that it is, I have the power to control it versus letting it control me.
Now look, I’m not saying that the following is a foolproof way to kick fear in the ass, but I certainly hope that it helps. And I hope that you can look back in 5 weeks or 5 years and realize that you didn’t let fear take up as much of your time and energy as it did before.
So let’s start with circling back to something I mentioned before, I mentioned identifying what type of fear it is. Fear has existed in human beings since we were living in caves, so it is very natural. But it came from two places; either the fear of bodily harm or the fear of being ostracized from the group.
The fear of bodily harm came from a place of being fearful of your well-being. Picture it, you and your fellow Cro-Magnons are sitting around the fire eating when you hear a twig snap. You would have probably felt immediate fear. Your pupils dilate, heart rate picks up, adrenaline kicks in. You just went from a rest and digest state to fight or flight. Fear or bodily harm is legitimate and should be acknowledged and recognized. This is the important type of fear.
Then there’s the fear of being ostracized. And back when you were living in caves, your community is what kept you alive. Everyone had a role to play and if you were viewed as no longer helpful, as a detriment, a hindrance, or even a threat to the group, then you were forced out. That was certain to mean pretty bad things for you.
Even though most of us are no longer living in caves, modern day fear generally still stems from one of those two places. But guess what? Only one of those still matter. That fear of being different and not a part of the group is no longer valid. In fact, being an outlier is now celebrated. The people who push past and don’t put too much emphasis on what the group is doing or what the group expects of them are finding some of the most success.
Let’s apply this to a real life situation and see what we come up with! Buckle up and keep hands within the moving vehicle at all times.
You are at the gym.
You are about to attempt to lift the most weight you have ever lifted off of the ground. You warm up, set up, and now it’s time. You might feel fear in this situation. But now it is your job to take a step back and try to identify where it is coming from. Are you scared that you will hurt yourself if you attempt this lift? Are you scared what will happen if you miss this lift? Do NOT ignore this fear. The fear of bodily harm is important and if you are genuinely nervous about hurting yourself, either take a step back and go lighter, or ask for someone to spot you or help.
HOWEVER if you take a step back and are nervous that if you do not hit this lift, you look bad next to the person you usually compete in class with, then you need to get rid of that. If you find yourself asking things like, “If I don’t beat them, what does that say about me? Does is mean I no longer add value to the group? Will some of my importance go away?” then you need to work to get rid of that fear. When you live within that fear, you live in a state of constant self-judgement. It becomes fear of exposure. That by not keeping up with someone or lifting what you think you can, it will suddenly expose to the world that you are not the athlete that you made yourself out to be. This fear doesn’t allow you to appreciate the things around you. And this one, this type of fear, is the one you HAVE to move past.
You will continue to feel fear in your life, but hopefully with that in mind, you can recognize it. You have to understand the fear, why it’s there, and why it’s holding you back. And once you have figured out where the fear is coming from it your job to learn to operate within that fear. If you can operate within that fear, you can move mountains.
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