Recently I heard Tony Robbins talking about fear… about eliminating fear to achieve a breakthrough that would change your life. This hit home with me as a few years ago I realized that so much of what we do (or don’t do) as human beings is based on fear.
What also occurred to me is that there are really two types of fears: fears that motivate you and fears that hold you back.
Under the right circumstances, fear is a useful emotion. It’s instinctual, and it’s entire purpose is to keep us out of harms way. If we were not afraid of a lion in the jungle, we’d get eaten. Fear drives us to survive… in some cases.
As we’ve also stated, fear can hold us back. It’s still protecting us from harm, but is the harm REALLY that bad? Are we in danger of losing a limb (or our life) or being embarrassed? Some would say that being embarrassed is much worse, probably because they have never had their arm ripped from its socket by a hungry 500lb kitty cat.
Fear the motivates could be called a “healthy” fear. If you have a fear of failure that drives you to work hard and be the best you can be, that’s a healthy outcome of the fear. If that fear causes you to never try anything because you can’t stand making a mistake, then it’s not so healthy.
The worst fear of all is the fear of the unknown, and we play into that fear A LOT. This happens when we don’t rationally know what an outcome might be, so our mind fills in the blanks for us. And guess what? We’re really good at making things MUCH worse than they really are to justify an action (or inaction).
So here is where you get to think about yourself… what are your healthy and unhealthy fears? What motives you to move forward and what holds you back? Once you figure out what’s holding you back, ask yourself a few questions.
- What’s the worst that could happen? If death or dismemberment is off the table, you should be able to handle it. Taming the fear of the unknown is all about perspective. Once you see that you aren’t going to die as a result, the rest of the consequences don’t seem so bad.
- What would you do if you weren’t afraid? You probably already know what SHOULD be done, but your fear is driving you to choose not to do it. This allows you to remove your self-imposed rationale.
- (As a follow-up to the above question) Why aren’t you doing it? If you know what to do, why aren’t you doing it?
Answering these three questions tells you some very important things: The outcome won’t be so bad, you already know what to do, and there really isn’t anyone standing in the way except you.
Once you realize that YOU are the only one standing your way, guess who can fix this problem… Yep. You.
About the author: Matt Heller admits to having a healthy fear of large wild animals that he can’t out run (which is most of them).