Nothing to Fear

Nothing to Fear 150 150 Sharon Smith

A great quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt “the only thing to fear is fear itself” rings loud and true today. There are so many people that I hear speaking from a place of fear. Fear of change, fear of failure, fear of speaking up, fear of being judged, fear of public speaking, and fear of rejection to name a few of the fears I often see stop people from reaching their goals.

What are your fears? How much do they affect you and your decisions? How have they held you back?

Have you ever stopped to think about whether fear is real? Can you see, touch, eat, smell, or hear fear? Can fear even hurt you? Since the answer to those questions is no, why do we spend so much time living with it? People and situations can injure you physically or emotionally, that is true, but fear cannot, and fearing situations that are not life threatening and pose no actual harm will stop you from reaching your true potential in life and in business.

Fear makes sense from the fight or flight response that we needed when and bears and neighboring tribes were the enemy. Without laying out all the science of the hormones behind your fight or flight response, what is important is to understand is that your body releases stress hormones when you have to take action around something you “fear.” These hormones increase blood sugar, heart rate, and blood pressure, while shutting down nonessential systems like digestion and immune and hampering our focus on small tasks. This all made sense because we needed the increased blood sugar and heart rate for big tasks like running or fighting, rather than small tasks like digestion or focus on details.

The challenge is that we are now constantly putting ourselves into this state of stress when we create fears around non-life threatening events. You don’t often have to run for your lives anymore, but our bodies and brains do not know that. We still have the caveman part of our brain and our fight or flight response has not changed. As a result, all the fears that do not threaten your life are not only causing you to waste time and energy in reaching your goals, but are also causing physical and emotional issues as well. I am not saying that having a healthy sense of fear is bad, you do need to know when to step back from the ledge, when to jump out of the way of a speeding car, or when to grab a child away from a rabid animal; and fear or the flight or flight response gears us up to do all of that.

However, how many times have you worried about or feared a situation, conversation, or outcome, only to find that what ended up happening wasn’t even close to what you had created in your mind? I’ve spent more time than I would like to admit having made-up conversations in my head, causing stress and fear out of nothing and wasting precious time and energy that I could have used being happy and productive. I have also been able to trace digestive and join pain issues to stress caused from fears that I created in my mind as well.

One of the things I have learned to do is to observe the fearful thoughts and stop them in their tracks the minute I notice them happening. When you observe your thoughts you can change them. The next time you start to worry or fear something ask yourself “what evidence do I have of the outcome?” What’s another outcome or story that could be just as true as the one you are telling yourself? The old acronym for FEAR is good to remember – False Evidence Appearing Real.

Because your brain translates what you see into perceptions based on the filters you have created, you really do create your reality. The filters are the stories you use to explain the world around you. These perceptions feel like reality, but they are only as real as you want them to be. You can always change the story.

Some people see a rain cloud and think, “Oh man, it’s going to rain and ruin my day,” while someone else sees a rain cloud and finds gratitude because their garden is dry. Different perceptions = different realities. Someone gets on stage excited because they get to share something with a group and make a difference while someone else sees the same group and the same stage as a place of judgment and thinks, “What if I mess up and look stupid? What if I fail?” The events are the same, speaking on stage and sharing information. The only difference between these two speakers is their thoughts. My bet is the person who is excited will be a much better presenter than the person who is afraid of failing or looking stupid even if they have the exact same information to share. They are indeed in control of their outcome and through their thoughts create their reality. Just like I said before the more you start to observe your thoughts and ask meaningful questions of yourself, the more you can change your thoughts, change your story, and change your reality.

The reason I like the quote “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” is because it is the fearful thought itself that is debilitating not the thing you fear. Of course bad things can happen that you cannot control. You can make an investment that goes south where money is lost, you might loose a job, not get the second date, and great opportunities are sometimes missed. While you can’t completely control these situations you can control how you respond to them, how you might plan in the event that they happen, or use them in your basis for making decisions. And since you cannot predict them or completely control them you should not live in fear of them.

When you stop doing new things because of a fearful thought, now that is something to be afraid of. When you are able to let go of the fear and live your life, magic happens. Or you can decide to “feel the fear and do it anyway” as Susan Jeffers discusses in her book with the same title. Whether you let go of the fear or do something despite the fear, your results are going to include more fun, more joy, more love, more abundance, and more wealth. You are going to continue moving forward and towards your goals and dreams.

When you live in fear you question those around you and you don’t let new people or new experiences in. You miss out on the journey and experience of life and when you really think about it that is the purpose of being here. You don’t get to take any of the material things with you when we go. Most likely we will only be remembered for a few generations at the most, I honestly cannot tell you my great grandparents names, so why spend the precious time you have in this beautiful life fearing anything that is not real?

None of us know what the future holds, we never will, regardless of how hard we try to predict the future by creating scenarios in our head. So if you are going to spend time trying to predict the future by telling yourself how something is going to turn out, change the story so the ending is one of happily ever after. After all you do create your own reality so choose one that is fun and fulfilling.

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