To fully understand fear and the crippling effect it can have on us, we first need to understand that there are two very different types of fear that we as human beings experience.
The first type of fear is that which is known as “physiological fear”. Now physiological fear is built into our genes – it is an evolutionary trait that has helped allow humanity to rise to the top of the evolutionary pyramid. Physiological fear is what alerts us to potentially life-threatening scenarios, that we can choose to ignore (and some people certainly do choose to) at our peril. What defines physiological fear is the need to react physically to it. Literally speaking physiological fear is the difference between life and death. There are some fairly obvious examples here: The fear of heights is one. A long history of people dying when they fell from high places e.g. cliff edges, has ensured that an automatic fear of heights is well ingrained in our DNA. You would not readily walk along a thin girder suspended 100 feet above the ground because your subconscious automatically knows this is not likely to be good for your long-term survival. Similarly, when you are confronted by an angry animal predator, physiological fear requires a physical action to flee and remove you from the danger you face, freeze, or, if all else fails, to stand and fight for your life.
Although some people do make a conscious decision to embrace the physiological fear and overcome it, for example mountain climbers, big wave surfers, skydivers et al, in general terms it is fair to say that physiological fear is good for us and warns us of potentially dangerous situations that we may choose, or not, to avoid. Physiological fear is a good thing – it helps to keep us alive.
What is not such a great thing however is psychological fear. Psychological fear is not born in our DNA, but is born within our own active imagination, or as Andy Shaw likes to call it – “that little monster in our head, called our ego”. Psychological fear is the most crippling and limiting aspect of our psyche. It stops us from reaching our potential in life and most importantly of all it limits the happiness and joy we can experience. In some unfortunate people psychological fear can be so great and so overpowering that it literally drives that person to a complete standstill.
We’ve all read and heard of people who are so crippled by fear that they cannot even leave their own houses (agoraphobia), others who have a pathological fear of water (aquaphobia) and those too frightened of heights to even climb a set of stairs (acrophobia), but those with phobias this extreme are best assisted in overcoming them with professional psychological counselling and treatment.
For most of us the fears that cripple us are just simple psychological fears that we have allowed to become the ruling paradigms in our lives. These are fears that have been drilled into us over the years by the people we have most trusted to guide us in our lives; our parents, our siblings, our teachers, our friends, our work colleagues and indeed society in general. We have, like good and faithful dogs, been exceedingly well trained. The problem is that these fears have become so ingrained in our subconscious that they can stop us from doing things we WANT to do and even beneficial stuff, to grow as individuals and experience the awesome life that we were born to live. So, what are these fears that hold us back from achieving our greatness?
Perhaps one of the biggest fears that prevents us from achieving our true potential is: THE FEAR OF FAILURE. How often have you thought of a great idea or considered trying a new activity, or a new hobby, even a new career and then been paralyzed by that overwhelming fear of failure? You come up with the idea – you think that’s awesome – yeah! I can do that and then what happens?
That insane little critter in your head (your ego) starts chattering back to you:
- “Just who do you think you are?”
- “What makes you think you can do that?”
- “You tried something like that before, remember? God, what a disaster that was!”
- “No, you stick to your knitting – you do what you can do”
- “Don’t you dare have the temerity to try something new – you know you’re a loser, you’re bound to fail.”
- “Best you just go and have a beer eh and forget all about it?”
But why are we so afraid of failure? Failure is the first step on the road to success. It doesn’t matter which successful person you interview, you will always find that there is failure written in their story. In fact, many successful people literally “celebrate” their failures. Here, I particularly like the comment of Robert T Kiyosaki (Author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad); “Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure, also avoid success.”
If you are to be the greatest you that you can possibly be – you need to overcome this fear of failure. Whatever it is you want to do – you first of all need to make a start, and from then on the key is persistence. Don’t be off-put by the ego that keeps telling you, you will fail! There is an old truism – “if you don’t run the race; you can never be the winner!”
And even if you don’t succeed initially; then you will have at least gained two wonderful things:
1/ You will have the immense satisfaction of having tried something you have always wanted to try. You will have given it your absolute best and you will have grown as a person. None of these things is to be dismissed lightly, they are all part of the building blocks of success; and
2/ You will have so much more experience than you had before. The mistakes you made this particular time will serve you well in your future projects. I guarantee you, you won’t make those same mistakes again. As Heston Blumenthal said; “I learned more from my one failed restaurant than from all the successful one’s put together.”
So don’t let the fear of failure cripple you and consign you to living a life too ordinary. You were born to excel – you were born to be great. Just take that first step down the path that you long to venture along and embrace any failures as part of the process of growing your greatness.
What other fears hold us back from achieving our true potential in life?
A big one for many people is the fear of ridicule – of what other people will say about them and what they are doing. In this new, highly connected world it seems that for many people “appearing” good to others is their definition of their success or happiness. Why is this so? Success and happiness start and end with love – the love of one person – YOU FOR YOURSELF! Truly, what does it matter what others think of you?
The biggest problem I encounter is that instead of people loving themselves for who they are – a unique individual with talents and gifts to express – they indulge in fruitless and debilitating episodes of low self-worth and burnt out self-esteem, and then have to seek validation for themselves, from others.
If we truly love ourselves and embrace our own uniqueness with passion, then why should we need validation from anyone else? “To thine own self be true.” If we are going to spend our lives seeking acceptance/approval from others and seeking their plaudits then we will waste so many opportunities to experience the joys of life that make us happy and can fill us with bliss. Fear of what others may think or say is extremely limiting and can paralyze us from action.
YOU deserve better than that! You deserve to fulfil your own dreams and desires, not someone else’s perception of who you should be, or what you should do. Take control of your thoughts and actions, your own destiny and live for you – forget about what others have to say. The time they spend trying to drag other’s down and limit other’s potential is wasting their own opportunities to grow and experience everything that this amazing life has to offer. Don’t fall into the trap of pandering to their small-minded needs. Go out there and be the best you can be; doing the things you want to do. Dream Big and Aim High, feel the fear and do it anyway.
The final fear I want to cover today is also a biggie for many people – the fear of the unknown; what the future might hold.
First and foremost, you need to understand that the unknown is somewhere out there, in the future. The only thing you can do to control the future is what you do TODAY – here and now.
If you focus your mind on all the potential problems and pitfalls that the future may hold for you – that is exactly what your future WILL hold. You will actually attract to yourself the very things you want to avoid.
You need to accept that you live in the PRESENT, not the past or the future and whatever you think about and do NOW, will be what your future, manifests in your life. Acceptance is key, you can’t change what has happened, but the thing you can manage is your reaction. Deep down we also need to re-program our beliefs, to say to ourselves – okay, this is tough, but what’s the lesson here for me? Then let it go, sometimes things only become clear with the passage of time, but chances are there something way better waiting for you just around the corner. So, have faith, believe in yourself and that the realization of your dreams awaits.
At any given point in time we are exactly where we are meant to be; doing exactly what we are meant to be doing; with the people we are meant to be doing it with. Don’t let the fear of the future cripple your ambitions. Embrace the present – be the person you want to be today, and tomorrow will take care of itself.
I want to end today with a quote from one of my favourite authors, in fact the woman probably recognized as the one person who introduced the “Law of Attraction” to the masses – Rhonda Byrne. She says in her book The Power; “You were meant to have an amazing life – you were not born to struggle… what then would be the point of your life?”
I couldn’t agree more. We all have within us the potential to achieve greatness, whether it be just within ourselves, within our families, within our community or indeed within the world. We are not limited by anything except our own choices and our own fears.
TIME TO NOTCH UP INTO THE FEARLESS GEAR THEN!
You may wish to visit some of our previous blogs. The last four are listed below:
Karma – More Than You Thought?
Be sure to pop on over to my fiction section of this website where you can check out my amazing novel; Spirit of Prophecy, which explores, in a fictional narrative, many of the topics I cover in my blogs. If you love “whodunits”, or you’re crazy about horses, or you just like a paranormal twist in your novels, Spirit of Prophecy is just the book for you. http://bit.ly/2LeRJ84