I’m Afraid of Fear

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.

Amelia Earhart


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Fear is good. At least in some things. Fear is a natural mechanism in our brain that keeps us from doing dumb things that will result in injury. It’s good to be afraid of fire. It’s healthy to be afraid of cliffs.

The problem is that often our brains can’t distinguish between real danger and perceived danger. Being afraid to put my hand on a hot stove is a real danger. Being afraid of the dark is perceived danger, which is often irrational.

How often have you been afraid of an experience, only to find out your fear was unfounded? You were nervous to ride that roller coaster, but once you did, it was awesome and you wanted to ride it again. Or maybe you’ve heard a noise in the house and were convinced there was someone there, only to check it out and realize it was nothing.

Just like that roller coaster, perceived fears can rob us of awesome, fun experiences in life. Allowing irrational fear to hold us back will keep us from doing things that will enrich and expand our horizons.

Failure to act on our dreams is a perceived fear. There is no mortal danger to starting a business, even if it fails. In fact, there is no evidence that it will fail at all. And it doesn’t have to be a business. Perhaps your dream is to run a marathon or write a book. Again, there is very little chance of doom or destruction, sprained ankles or paper cuts aside.

The point is that we allow perceived fears to stop us every day. They stop us from making that sales call, from asking that person on a date, from starting our business, book or blog. And that fear is the number one obstacle you must overcome on the path to your dreams. Once you start, you are probably fifty percent of the way there. Maybe more. There will be other obstacles to overcome, but none as big as that fear that keeps you from starting.

Maybe right now you begin to think about that thing you’ve been afraid to start. Is your fear real or perceived? Is failure really dangerous? Will you die or suffer mortal injury if you fail? Perhaps, but probably not.

But there is a very real and likely chance you will miss out on the experience of your life. Is the fear of some perceived danger worse than the real threat of your dreams not coming true, of ending your life with the nagging wonder of what might have happened? In the end, the times you acted and failed will probably not be what haunts you. You will learn, you will grow, and you might actually succeed.
But those chances you didn’t take? For me, that’s a real fear I’m not willing to face.

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