That’s what they say fear is, just an illusion. A mirage your brain sends you to stop you from doing stupid shit that may cause you to potentially die, in proper English. It jumps on you out of nowhere and can cripple you into inaction or force you into into quick impulsive reaction. They call it Fight or Flight mode which is when you can’t think straight because the only thing you are able to focus on is survival.
You’d think this only gets triggered when real danger appears. The kind that will potentially cancel your subscription to ‘Life’. Things would also probably be much easier if it were so, but then this wouldn’t be life if everything was predictable would it?
Your brain is a fascinating tool. The most complex computer ever created, capable of doing the most amazing things by the simple act of sending an electrical signal. The tricky bit is, beyond keeping you alive, it’s not entirely self-sufficient so it thrives on a succession of programming that you bestow upon it without the ability to filter what’s useful or unnecessary.
And so when it comes to fear any false evidence appearing real to you will trigger your brain’s fight or flight mode, whether it’s actually justified or not. It is why we’ve learned to be uncomfortable with our fear, we try to suppress it, overcome it, ignore it because we feel like we can’t trust it. It’s this thing that gets in the way of all the good stuff, an enemy we all have in common who destroys ambition and leaves its friend regret behind to haunt us until the end of our days. Oh and it also makes us feel like crap.
The sensation of fear is so unpleasant that we even become afraid of the sheer possibility of it. We anticipate the potential of fear in any given situation, usually one that really matters to us, and use the discomfort as a justification to stay away sending off our highest potential to live in limbo in the boulevard of broken dreams while we choose to live in dismay.
‘The only thing to fear is fear itself’ is a famous quote advising us to only be afraid of falling into said fight or flight mode that keeps us from going for the things we want. It is supposed to inspire us to ignore and avoid the fear to find courage instead.
Fear in essence is not a bad thing. It is the way nature made sure we kept ourselves alive. Fear tells us that we’re at the frontier of our comfort zone and that going beyond this line means going into the unknown. It tells us we’re about to expose ourselves and be extremely vulnerable because we’re about to face a situation we’re not sure we can handle.
Lisa Nichols has a great lecture about turning your fear into fuel ( google it) where she advises us to use the fear to propel us. Beyond our fear is growth, courage and the discovery of things we’ve never experienced. It is where wonder, experience, excitement live waiting to be triggered. Of course you can always play it safe because this is your life and you do whatever the hell you want.
But consider this : at the end of their lives people struggle the most with the nightmare called regret. It sits with you in silence throughout your day and keeps you up at night with endless ‘ what if’ questions you will never have any answers to.
Steven Covey, author of the 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People advises us to always begin with the end in mind. Think about the result you’re aiming for and work your way backwards to figure out how you got there.
What would you want your last chapter to say? How does the end of your story go? Are you peacefully sitting on your favorite chair smiling at the memory of your epic life? Or are you up at night tortured by the ghost of missed opportunities?
If fear is false evidence appearing real, what is the truth? What is your truth? Are you willing to find out even if it means getting passed your comfort zone and taking a huge leap of faith?
Yes, you might fall …but Oh my darling, what if you fly?