“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” - Eleanor Roosevelt
The fears you don’t face become your limits. Unless you are being chased down by a bear, your fear is not even real. Sure, you really feel it, but it’s not present in your immediate reality. It’s a future-focused construct. It is False Expectations Appearing Real.
Here are three not-so-fun facts about fear to consider, so you can keep it from poisoning the present moment.
The fear is worse than reality.
Fear is useful for survival. It helps us make snap decisions in dangerous situations. Outside of momentary danger, however, fear has a habit of hijacking our judgment. Take fear of terrorism. Many Americans are afraid of falling prey to a terrorist attack, but reality says we are more likely to be killed by our own furniture than by a terrorist. Many more of us worry about plane crashes, but it’s the seasonal flu that poses the greater risk.
The point here is, you’re being duped by your fears. The majority of them are not real or realistic. They are hijacking your mind and your reality.
The fear makes your reality worse.
Scared of something in the future? That worry is likely making you more miserable in the here and now than you will be if your fear is realized. For example, this study shows the fear of losing your job is more harmful to your well being than actually losing your job. Think of fear as the annoying solicitor who drops by the house. It’s a teenager with a clipboard, but if you keep avoiding the door and hiding, you might come to dread that knock like it was the knock of an assassin. You sitting around worrying about a fear you have, ruins your life MORE than if the fear actually happened. Speaking of it actually happening . . .
Your attachment to fear can manifest it.
What if focusing on fear brings it into being? Some call this the law of attraction; the idea that negative energy attracts negative results. To de-mojo the energy concept, we can instead say that fear-based actions and decisions can reinforce the future fear and this, in turn, brings what was mostly imagined to fruition.
Example: You’re afraid of getting fired, so you stay quiet at work out of fear, never saying what you know needs said. Time goes on and you see people rewarded for being themselves and speaking up while you keep your fearful head down. One day, layoffs come, and you get called into the boss's office and get canned. “You do your job well enough, but we need leaders. You never contribute.”
So how do you best navigate in fearful waters? You might not want to hear this, but you’ve got to sail right on through. The only way to overcome fear is to expose yourself to to it. Then you can see its distortion and understand its falsehood.