Why is it so easy to let fear stand between us and our dreams? You know how it works. First we think of something that we really want to do or accomplish. Then we start to list all the great benefits this new venture will bring into our lives. And just when we are really getting into it, some part of our mind comes up with, “yeah but, if we do that then…”
You know what follows, a list of negative possibilities designed to throw a wet blanket over our great idea. And what do we call that wet blanket? We call it a reality check, but is that accurate?
Why do we repackage fear and call it reality?
We do it because calling it reality makes our hopes and dreams seem like fantasies, and saves us from having to face our fears. Or, put another way, we do it because we are afraid.
So what are we afraid of?
The list will vary depending on the situation, but likely candidates are:
*Fear of the
* Fear of risk
* Fear of failure
* Fear of ridicule
* Fear of change
We only need one or two of these to dispense with minor aspirations. On the other hand, if we are trying to talk ourselves out of a major dream or goal, we may need to mobilise a small army of fears to get the job done. And how do we justify getting in our own way like that? Once again, we call
When we hide behind the term “reality”, it makes us look reasonable instead of fearful. It’s like saying that any other choice is just plain foolishness, and now we can retreat back into the safety of our comfort zone without losing face.
Fear is a wall we build around ourselves: Our own sense of insecurity makes us feel protected inside that wall, and so we find reasons to stay there, out of harm’s way. The problem is, we also wall ourselves off from all the wonderful opportunities and experiences that make life fun. Without risk there is no sense of adventure, no excitement, and no real passion.
Before we go any further, let’s acknowledge that a manageable amount of couscous apprehension (fear) is not a bad thing. Rushing into something new without taking the time to weigh the possible adverse consequences is not usually the course of wisdom. In fact a manageable amount of fear can often be transformed into excitement and motivation.
So the kind of fear we are concerned with, is the kind that limits our ability and willingness to reach for our dreams. Any form of fear that hinders our ability to act in the direction of our heartfelt desires is a serious handicap that needs to be addressed.
Fear causes us to trade it all for false security: The hidden reason why fear can move us to compromise our goals and abandon our dreams is the fact that insecurity is the granddaddy of all limiting emotions. Every person has an inherent and insatiable desire to feel safe and secure. On a subconscious emotional level, we will naturally try to avoid anything perceived as a threat to our sense of security.
It’s important to realise that most of these negative emotional anchors are only perception; they have little to do with any real threat. Then again, life is perception, so to us they will be as real as we choose to make them.
Change your perception and the fear goes away: The key to breaking down these walls, and vanishing the fear, is found in our ability to alter the way we perceive any situation, and the emotional anchors to attach to
it. We don’t need to change reality, just our emotional
interpretation of it.
This is where learning a few advanced life skills gives us total control over how we experience life. Have you ever wondered
why some people embrace challenges that cause others to
retreat to safety?
How can the same experience represent excitement to one person and paralysing fear to another? We might be tempted to attribute the difference to degrees of self-confidence, but where does self-confidence come from?
Self-confidence is what results when our perception is reinforced by our experiences. The thing to keep in mind is that our perception has a strong influence on our level of commitment, which often determines whether or not we succeed.
Face your fears, claim your blessings: Many of life’s most meaningful rewards and blessings require that we successfully overcome some type of challenge or fear. Consider some common examples:
1) A meaningful relationship. All close relationships require a level of commitment that leaves us emotionally vulnerable. The more involved you are, the more openly exposed you become to emotional pain if something goes wrong. Some people consider the possibility (fear) of pain to be too great a risk, so they deny themselves the experience. To enjoy the rewards and blessings of a truly wonderful relationship, we must first
overcome the fear.
2) A rewarding career. All business ventures involve the risk of loss. Sure, you do the research and try to make sound decisions, but even smart businesses fail. In fact, many ultra successful business people have lost it all at some point in their career, only to come back and surpass their previous best. Some people find this degree of risk unacceptable. Instead, they choose the illusion of security provided by a job they don’t find satisfying, rather than risk the possibility of loss. Again, to enjoy the rewards of a successful business requires that you be willing to face, and then overcome, the fear of
3) Personal growth. Making meaningful changes on a personal level requires that we be willing to make an honest evaluation of “self”, and then have the courage to try something new. At first, personal development may not seem to fit with the other two examples. The truth is, it actually epitomises the fear and blessing scenario. When we are willing to say: “Hey, I’ve got a lot of room for improvement here, and I am willing to do something about it.” We put ourselves in a vulnerable position with the potential for unprecedented blessings. But it takes courage to move out of the comfort zone of what’s familiar, and move toward
In the final analysis, the more willing you are to face your fears and go for it anyway, the more blessings you will enjoy. Learning to view challenges as adventures, and fear as excitement, will change the way you experience your life. Often, the greater the fear, the bigger the potential blessing.
The passion and exhilaration that make life a truly exceptional experience belong to those with the courage to overcome their fears, and reach for their dreams. So train yourself to look beyond your fears and see the rewards that courage will bring. Focus on the blessings, they are yours for the taking.
Jonathan Wells is a self help coach and the author of True Self