Make Fear Less of a Factor in Your Life Equation

Photo courtesy of epsos.de

You know those long e-mail questionnaires we all used to send around to our friends under the guise of getting to know people better? Loaded with questions about our physical characteristics, likes, dislikes, and aspirations – they presented us with the perfect opportunity to talk about our favorite subjects – ourselves.

With changes in technology happening faster than the blink of an eye, email surveys quickly became yesterday’s news. Personally, I found them tiring pretty much from their inception, and I had a reason for my dislike. It was simple, really. I used to be uncomfortable in any situation where I didn’t have all of the answers.

I suppose you might ask why I wouldn’t have all of the answers to an email survey about my height, hair color, and whether I’d rather be a pirate or a ninja. Obviously, those weren’t the questions that tripped me up (ninja, naturally.) It was the deeper questions I never felt like answering, like whether I was in a happy relationship or what I hoped my life would look like in five years.

As it turns out, I wasn’t alone in avoiding harsh realities about my life.  In actuality, there are thousands of people trying to avoid facing feelings of discontentment and many other disappointing realities in their lives, and for most of us, the driving force behind our avoidance is the four-letter f-word.

FEAR.

Every day, countless people bury themselves in avoidance because they fear that facing the problem could cause them to experience failure of some type.  Fear is a very powerful emotion that can keep us from shooting for the stars and achieving our ultimate goals that would skyrocket our happiness level.   Allowing our fears to control us prevents us from living the lives we really want.

Fears of abandonment, job loss, going into debt, rejection, intimacy, not measuring up, and even a fear of success itself are all common and natural. Usually, feeling scared keeps us safe and prevents us from doing things that often might end up causing us harm. There are times, though, when it’s in our best interest to feel afraid of something and to pursue it anyway.  The hard part is knowing when to listen to our fears and when to challenge them.

It’s quite possible that, unless you feel quite substantially miserable in your current life circumstances, you’ll be less likely to pursue your dreams due to a fear of the unknown. Even if your life as you know it is far from your ideal life, it’s familiar and safe. Many people have a desire to live a different kind of life, work in a different field, or be married to someone different, but the fear of what it would take to get there is simply too strong.

I’m a prime example of a person who faced a great deal of fear in order to live the life I really wanted. The life I had before wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t my ideal existence. It was SO SCARY taking that first step in the journey to where I am now! But once I took the first step, the momentum kept me moving in the direction I should’ve been heading all along.

Will you let fear control your decisions or can you handle feeling afraid of the fall but taking the leap anyway?

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    • http://kickstartyourchange.com/ Kickstart Your Change

      There are a couple of factors at play it seems:

      1) change of any kind is almost always scary, inertia seems safer – so we can be afraid of anything which brings change… AKA anything meaningful!

      2) ‘bad is stronger than good’ – negative thoughts & feelings outweight positive ones (all else being equal) – so it’s easier for fears to emerge than hopes

      It’s challenging but we can learn to address both of these over time. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

      • http://kickstartyourchange.com/ Kickstart Your Change

        I should’ve also mentioned that Henrik (over at the Postivity Blog) has a useful 3-step structure for combating negativity:

        1. Focus on what you want.

        2. Avoid negative generalizations.

        3. Shape the input (favor positive sources & media over negative ones).

    • Laurie

      When the pain of remaining the same becomes stronger than the pain of change, we make that first step and face the fear.

      FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real. In the difficult, but oh so worth it, journey towards seeking the truth, all those falsehoods are replaced with the the less scary truths making the changes easier and easier.

      Once we take that so scary first step, all others are not so bad. I encourage those stuck in that ‘not sure about taking that first step’ phase to go for it. I have been hard pressed to find a single person that has regretted it!

      Thank you for this post! In this day of instant gratification, the time it takes to journey towards change is even more frustrating as we find it harder and harder to make short term sacrifices for long term gains. More examples of the gains gives us the courage to push forward!

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