Fear is the single greatest cause of our failures, unfulfilled dreams, lost opportunities and regrets. It is particularly nasty because it’s speciality is distortion.
Fear’s tactic is this -
Just as you’re ready to take a chance or make a change, it will grab hold of an improbable outcome and blow it up until it no longer seems like a possibility, but a certainty. Even after careful and responsible planning, many dreams die because our minds allow the worst possible scenario to become the most-likely one.
In my life these four ideas have proven effective to combat my fear:
1. Call out the lie -
Author Jon Acuff says, “…a lie is no foundation on which to base your decisions.” Fear succeeds when you become convinced that the nightmare you’re afraid of will actually happen. Try this: Think of the 10 scariest decisions of your life. Did the worst case scenario happen? More likely, you found success and joy, or learned a valuable life lesson. Fear wants you to believe a lie, so call it out for what it actually is.
2. Focus on the next, small step:
I recently read “The Heart and The Fist” by Eric Grientens and saw a profound example of this. Eric is a Navy SEAL who recounts an experience in “Hell-Week”, one of the most notoriously brutal military training experiences on earth. Eric discusses his class’ response to waiting for Monday night, the most feared night of Hell-Week…
“As we watched the sun slip away, something broke in our class. I saw men running to the bell [to quit]. First two men ran, and then two more, and then another…Who would of thought that after having to swim 50 meters underwater, endure drown-proofing and surf torture, the obstacle course and four-mile runs in the cold and the sand, that the hardest thing to do in all of the training would be to stand on the beach and watch the sun go down?
They quit, I believe, because they allowed their fear to overwhelm them. As the sun set, the thoughts of what was to come grew stronger and stronger, they focused on all the pain they thought they might have to endure and how difficult it might be.
Spend time long-term planning, but don’t let tomorrow’s worries loom so large that they keep you from getting past today.
3. Act anyway
The painter, Vincent Van Gogh said, “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” Indeed, the best way to minimize fear’s impact is to be action oriented. You’ll experience more success than you thought possible simply by doing something. Plus with each step, the grip of fear will be a little weaker next time you face it.
4. Talk to God
For Christians, pray through Isaiah 41:13, “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” The question isn’t ‘if’ God will take care of you. The question is, will you choose to trust that he always does?
What fears do you have that are holding you back? How else have you conquered your fears? Let’s discuss in the comments.