Today, we’re going to talk about fear. We’re talking about why it’s holding you back, why it’s the one thing, the main thing, that holds everybody back. It’s the reason why you stop doing things, it’s the reason why you don’t talk when people walk past, it’s the reason why you’re not happy, it’s the reason why you’re not approaching that girl you want to speak, to it’s the reason why you’ve not got the job that you want, it’s the reason why you’re not driving the car you want to drive, it’s the reason why you’re afraid to speak up in a conflict when you should or standing up for what is right or what you actually believe in.
Fear can be put into a nice little acronym:
- Forgot Everything And Run, or
- Face Everything And Rise
With all that in mind, let’s talk about a few key points that have helped me come over my fears (and some I’m still overcoming), perhaps some points that can help you overcome yours.
Perspective is everything. I want to give you a little bit of more perspective right now, to put fear into a little bit more of a specific, concise context. So if you know anything about science, just the littlest thing, we know that we’ve probably been here for millions of years, but the universe has existed for over 14 billion years. In retrospect, we’ve only existed for such a small timespan compared to the whole, wider galaxy. Humans existing is like a grain of sand when the universe is a sandy beach, and yet collectively as humans we achieved so much in that short time. Einstein, space-travel, the internet; all these amazing that’s that we have created; all in such a short space of time (in the grand scheme of things).
Your First Fear
What was the first fear you had when you were growing up?
I know mine was a fear of the dark, and it’s funny because a lot of the time the first step to overcoming your fear is to understand it. so for me when I was afraid of the dark, I was imagining all of the things coming out of the darkness, and having a very overactive imagination so I was imagining crazy monsters jumping out to scare me.
Your Quality Years
Everything fades over time. Yes we have traditions, history, museums, memorabilia, art and culture, but even those all fade eventually. So when we take a big zoomed out picture and we look at everything, we’re only here for maybe 70 years (as an individual). That’s 70 years, if you’re lucky, that you’ve got to live on this planet and do what you want to do. Now if that’s not a gift, I don’t know what is. I’m not going to tell you it’s divinity or anything like that, you can make your own decisions about that one, but fundamentally that’s not a long time. So wouldn’t it seem like a good idea to do something that you enjoy and enjoy the time that you do have here? Because in the grand scheme of things: we don’t have long. I’m sure most of you reading this are probably already over the age of 15 – 20 years old, so there goes a good 10 or 20 years right away, now we’ve got 50 quality years left! Now I’m not trying to be pessimistic here, but this is a truth we all need to hear.
So keep that in mind next time you have a fear because it might be the thing that puts it all into perspective, and nicely packages it up for you to make a decision and say: “Hey, you know what, this is not this scary. And if I pursue this, then I’m probably going to learn something. It’s probably going to be a great experience. And if not, well: what if?
With all that said, how do you overcome fear?
Well I’ve not got all the answers, I’m just sharing my personal experience. But there are three ways which I think can help and they are:
So for example, say you’re scared of spiders (and there’s some big bloody spiders here in Australia).
The first would be to learn about them, can they kill you? Are they poisonous? Are they actually very dangerous? What is the actual threat? What is the real fear that’s there? What are the real consequences of inaction?
Then the second step: exposure. Okay, so maybe you’re terrified of spiders. Maybe you go to a place where there’s a spider in a box, or in a room where you can catch one yourself and release it outside, or you go to the zoo and look at tarantulas.
Then slowly, you start to desensitize yourself by getting comfortable with that by stepping closer and closer, until you can touch whatever your fear was. This is usually the point when you realise the fear exists only in your mind, and “we suffer more in imagination, than we do reality” – a great quote by Seneca which I’m sure some of you have heard before.
When we educate ourselves about the fear and get a bigger picture, you can settle your fears and anxieties, and exposure will then help you desensitize every time. Spoiler alert: things are never as bad as you make them out to be, and often the things we don’t want to do are the things we have to do most. Because at the end of the day, you have to take ownership and responsibility for your own lifestyle, your own results, the good, the bad, the ugly, the anxieties, the f**k-ups, and focusing on the things you can control to break down the fear into an easier, more manageable process.