How often does fear to stop you from doing what you desire? How often does it prevent you from accomplishing your goals?
In America, 6.3 million adults aged 18-54 have some specific fear. The poor U.S. economy in recent years heightened anxiety over losing jobs or homes. But fear is not limited to Americans; the downturn in the world economy increased global trepidation about money-related issues for people across the globe as well.
Sometimes you may have good reason to feel fear, such as an approaching tornado or a gun to your head (God forbid). Public speaking, death, spiders, darkness, or heights don’t necessarily pose immediate threats, yet millions of people go into a panic at just the thought of getting up in front of an audience or having to walk into a dark room.
How do you deal with fear?
How you deal with fear poses the real problem. While on an airplane recently (many people fear flying…) I watched the movie Mavericks. The story is about surfing huge waves in Northern California. In it one of the characters makes a distinction between fear and panic. If you can identify your fear and stay calm, you can find a way to deal with your fear and with the situation—something imperative when in a life and death situation.
If you don’t panic, you can find solutions. If you feel panic, though, you don’t necessarily think clearly. You react rather than respond—and this can cause more harm than good. When you feel panic you may not act at all, which can be just as dangerous.
Do you know what you fear—or why?
Let’s say, however, that you are not in a life or death situation but you still feel afraid. You want to accomplish something in your life, but fear holds you back. This could be the case with public speaking or with showing your work (like a book) in public. Maybe dream of becoming a chef, but you are afraid to let anyone taste what you cook for fear they won’t like it. Possibly you want children, but you are afraid you won’t be a good parent.
All of these situations ask you to push past your limits—the limits of your fear. You may not feel panic when you visualize actually starting a family, but you still have to find a way to move through that fear to realize your dream. In Mavericks, a 17-year-old-boy is asked to identify his fears so he can, indeed, move through them and surf huge waves. Do you even know what you fear? Often identifying the fear helps, but knowing why you have that fear will actually get you farther toward eliminating it—or at least moving through it.
If fears are stopping you from reaching your potential or your goals, take those two steps:
- Identify your fear
- Identify why you are afraid
See if that lessens your fear in any way. If you still fear, remember this information when the fear arises so panic does not overtake you. You’ll then be able to respond, rather than react, thus accomplishing more despite this negative emotion.
To find out more about moving through fear, check out this book.