Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive — the risk to be alive and express what we really are. Don Miguel
When I was in my late teens I read Susan Jeffers book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. The book changed my life and the title became one of my personal guidelines for living. I knew that to get from point A to point B, I would have to learn to love fear. Fear would have to be my friend and something that would propel me forward and encourage me to challenge myself, instead of something that would make me cower in a corner.
Fear is an interesting emotion. Fear scares people. Fear causes people to get very creative in how they deal with it. Instead of confronting fear, many people come up with excuse after excuse to avoid the discomfort that fear brings. These people view fear as a negative emotion instead of a positive one. Many people make decisions in attempt to avoid fear. They don’t walk the tightrope, they don’t cross the line, they don’t take a chance, or a risk, because something scares them. Sometimes it is external. Often it is the monsters they make themselves.
Fear grows in darkness; if you think there’s a boogeyman around, turn on the light. Dorothy Thompson
This past week I saw a dear friend confront a deep-rooted fear with excuses. He was faced with making a very big life decision. He had already made his decision and committed to it and committed to many other people as well–all that was left was “to dot his I’s and cross his T’s.” This change he was challenging himself to make wasn’t one done on a whim. He had spent many months preparing and talking with others to make sure the change was for the best. Yet the final steps to this change would require him to come face-to-face with a deep-rooted fear he had held since childhood. He would have to look that fear in the eye and take the last step to move past it. In that final moment, he looked his fear in the eye and instead of stepping past it, he stepped backward and let the fear live. He then created a list of reasons as to why that decision made sense. Yet he knew, and all of us who were aware of it, knew in our hearts that these were just excuses–what had happened in reality was that his fear had won.
You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do. Eleanor Roosevelt
I am not passing judgment on him – no one can pass judgment on anyone for each of us has to fight our own battles – and we can only truly understand the battles when are in the shoes of the battler.
However what came abundantly clear to me after watching this struggle play out in his life, was how often I have seen people within a similar struggle: Seeking truth, finding it, and then letting fear take it away.
I believe that we can only overcome fear when we embrace it. We acknowledge we are scared and terrified, but we look at the situation from all angles, make the best decision we can, and then we take a deep breath and DO IT ANYWAY. Fear is often a calling that we need to grow and push past old boundaries to discover wonderful new territories.
Your Weekly Challenge: When in your life have you faced fear and overcome it? What was the result? When have you faced fear and stepped backward? What was the result? Is there any area in your life now where you need to (as Susan Jeffers says) “Feel the fear and do it anyway?”