Fear is our biggest enemy. It’s the one thing that can hold us back from living the life that we’ve always dreamed of and accomplishing the goals that we once saw as dreams. Fear stops us in our tracks when we’re only seconds away from greatness. Fear stops us in mid-air when we’re on the cusp of doing the impossible.
Our fears are based on our own imaginations. We develop ideas and consequences as it relates to efforts that drive a handful of “what ifs” and “what about”. These assumptions are dream killers and ultimately stop us from doing what we’re meant to do. Fear has the ability to convince us that we’re not capable of accomplishing something.
Fear is filled with lies. Lies we tell ourselves and lies that hold us back. These lies allow us to be comfortable and put us into a little box that we believe is safe. When in reality, standing still is a sure-fire way to die on the inside. Fear encourages us to give up and walk away.
But we shouldn’t. Gandhi said it best,
The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear.
We should take control of our lives and remove fear as best we can. Remove the fear of quitting your job. Remove the fear of doing something new. Remove the fear of saying hello to a stranger. The things that hold us back are only the constructs of our own imaginations.
Here are a few ways that you can push yourself to get over the fear and get one step closer to living the life of your dreams:
A few weeks ago I was grabbing lunch with a friend of mine and he said something that will stick with me for a while. We were discussing the idea of doing things that scare us and the importance of going against the norm. He said, “When you’re going into the deep end of a pool there are two ways you can do it. One foot at a time to give yourself the chance to back out or simply leap into the air and see what happens.”
I encourage everyone to leap. The only way to reach our full potential is to put it all on the line. There’s a cliche saying around casinos that “bigger the risk, the bigger the reward”. Thus, sometimes you just have to go all in. Yes, it’s going to be scary and it’s probably going to make you uncomfortable for a minute. But the thrill of leaping into something new and unexpected will provide you with a sense of meaning and pride.
Early this year, I came to the realization that we as humans are hard-coded to avoid things that put us out of our comfort zone. We are geared to decrease our levels of stress and discomfort as much as possible and embrace societal developments like pensions and retirement plans. It’s as if we’re living in a world that promotes the idea of accepting the status quo and is against anything that attempts to try something new.
I’ve also come to the realization that the people around me who are doing great things are those who constantly push the envelope. The ones who are exceptional leaders and innovators are those who constantly put themselves into situations that most would avoid. As a result, these people are making great strides towards their goals while others sit on their hands hoping their dreams will fall into their lap. So where am I going with this? Well, I think Nelson Mandela put it best;
There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.
It’s fear that stops us from living the life that we’re capable of living. If fear is going to play such an important role in our lives than the one thing we should be most afraid of is the idea of standing still. Sitting on our hands or twiddling our thumbs. Too many people feel they are safe right now. Helen Keller once said that safety is mostly superstition and that’s the truth. Safety is created in our minds when in reality nothing is certain and everything is unknown.
Tomorrow you could be fired from your job.
Next week you could be divorced. Next month you could be sick and while we don’t like to think about it, one day you’re going to die. We’re all dead men and women walking.
Stop clinging onto what you falsely believe is safe and make your life a lot more exciting and interesting. Become more afraid of standing still and you will no longer be confined by the illusions and tricks that your own brain is playing on you.
Someone with dreams isn’t necessarily someone who walks around with their head in the clouds and not aligned with reality. Instead, someone who thinks about their dreams and thinks about them often is someone who is more likely to chase those dreams. It’s these folks who are more likely to take action and take steps towards their goals.
People who dream have the right mindset. While their dreams are scary, they represent possibility and a promising future. Big dreams give us something to work towards and while the road towards them is often filled with obstacles and challenges. This path is most certainly a path less traveled. It’s a path that requires us to put our fears aside and move forward.
In many ways, a dream can represent someone’s meaning in life.
There are very few emotions and feelings that can compare to the satisfaction of doing what you feel you’re meant to be doing. It’s an exciting road and one that forces you to take chances and do things that society wouldn’t expect. It’s not only the key to happiness but also the key to removing fear from your vocabulary.
Right here and right now is all we really have. We don’t know what the future holds and we don’t know when our future ends.
All we know for certain is that yes, it’s going to end. We have no idea of the time or place. We just know that one day, it’s going to be our last.
For that reason, I encourage you to think about your life as if today was your last. Would you be pleased? Would you be satisfied? Would you be able to say you gave it your best and did everything you could to achieve your dreams?
Stop being afraid of what tomorrow holds when tomorrow isn’t even promised to us. Too often do we get so caught up in our own ego (which we create) and self-pride (which we also create) that we hold ourselves back on the risk of making a mistake. We don’t want to be embarrassed. We’re afraid of how people will look at us. We want to blend in instead of standing out.
Someday everything you see and love is going to be taken away from you. Thus, it’s important that you cherish these moments and do the things that mean something.
Do what you want.
Do what you love and do it with passion.
One day, you’re going to look back at your life and you’ll either smile at the great ride you had or tear up knowing that fear hold you back. This life is yours. Do with it what you wish. But don’t let fear hold you back.
People who are afraid, don’t see the world for its true potential. In fact, they rarely can look in the mirror and see their own true potential. Fear causes us to close our minds and create a division between reality and our comfort zone.
Fear will hold us back from travel. Fear will hold us back from love. Fear will hold us back from success. Fear will even hold us back from once in a lifetime experiences.
Instead of allowing your mind to be filled with fear we need to fill our mind with curiosity. When we’re curious we take the time to investigate and learn new things.
We strive to constantly educate ourselves on things we didn’t know and gain a new understanding of topics and ideas. It opens up our world. It opens up our minds.
Curiosity is a habit. It starts by recognizing how little you know and how little you are in the grand scheme of things.
Once you see this, you start to realize that there is so much out there to learn and so little time to learn it in. And yes, while the saying that curiosity killed the cat is probably true – I promise you that cat had one heck of a life.
You can’t just sit around pretending that you’re not afraid of life and grow old lying to yourself. Sitting around will not allow you to build courage or confidence.
To build these characteristics you need to put yourself into situations that make you a bit nervous and uncomfortable. For years, I’ve made it a habit to do things that I know will help me grow but at the same time, give me butterflies before doing them.
In reality, the majority of the things that scare us are simply created in our heads. It’s either due to the world views forced upon us by our parents, friends, and teachers or due to the media, movies or good old fashioned television. Instead of allowing these third parties to create our perceptions and fears; ignore doubt and fear to do the unthinkable.
One thing I’ve noticed is that in life, the things we tend to worry the most about never actually come into reality. We worry that someone is going to say no when we ask them on a date or that a client will hate us if we say no to a ridiculous request. These worries are created in our mind and rarely actually become reality. Instead of worrying about what could happen, start acting and make things happen.
What other ways do you avoid fear? How do you cope with the little voice in your head telling you to accept the status quo? When was the last time you did something that scared you?
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