Warning: this article contains a humorous yet thoughtful look at overcoming fears! We hate to admit it but most of our fears are irrational. And I’ll even admit that most of my fears are irrational.
On one hand, everyday life just isn’t that dangerous anymore.
Technology, engineering, and modern medicine have eliminated so many of the things that people used to fear.
Fears, after all, evolved as a basic survival mechanism. Fears arise in response to perceived threats, and trigger a “fight or flight” response from us.
For most of us, it’s a flight pattern and we’re on an avoidance course. Studies show what we fear is fairly universal: spiders, snakes, heights, public speaking, and death.
Seinfeld’s Take On Fear
As Jerry Seinfeld once said, “According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Does that sound right? This means at a funeral most people would rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy.”
We all might agree that one of our greatest, if not THE greatest fear, is fear of failure.
Whether we are aware of it or not, it can paralyze us and keep us from taking action, taking risks, and having experiences that we might benefit us greatly.
It’s easier for all of us to stick with what we perceive as safe, comfortable and familiar.
Yet many times when we choose safety we reinforce fear. We nurture fear. We let it dictate the terms by which we live our lives and make our choices.
When we overcome our fears we begin to live.
Emerson’s Take On Fear
“He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson.
How is fear conquered?
That can be a complicated question that keeps you from ever actually conquering your fears. So let’s keep it simple.
We conquer fears by doing what we think we can’t do, again and again.
When I was young, and even to this day, I stutter. Being called on in class or in any social outing terrified me.
Today however, I seek out opportunities to speak in public. It’s one of the best ways for me to meet people and let them know who I am and what I can offer them.
I see fear as a barrier to success.
It can give a small thing a big shadow. I also see fear as the opposite of faith. It keeps us stuck in between regret over the past and anxiety about the future.
These days I’m feeling like very few things warrant the fear energy we give them. Often we’re running not from genuine threats but from what we’re imagining.
That’s why my favorite acronym for fear is False Evidence Appearing Real.
The biggest one is the other F word; freedom. Freedom from anxiety. Freedom from regret. Freedom from a life unlived.
Do you think fortune really does favor the brave? I do.
Williamson’s Take On Overcoming Fears
As Marianne Williamson wrote, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? … We are all meant to shine, as children do. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
We have lived enough life to know which fears are still holding us back. Air them out, one at a time. Know them, and work through them and don’t let “false evidence appear real.”
As for me, I’d much much rather be the one giving the eulogy than the one in the casket!
If you feel stuck and need additional support to adopt a new healthy habit or routine, consider working with me. We can partner up in setting goals, drawing on your skills and strengths, and implementing strategies to help you find your way to lasting healthy success.
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For over 15 years, Shelli has been a freelance writer and wellness habit coach on Joyinmovement. She writes about brain fitness, creating a healthy lifestyle, traveling the world, and making positive habits stick. Stop procrastinating! Take action, join her free newsletter.