Fear

Look HERE for much more depth on Fear.

Fear plays a dynamic role in the mental circus of choice.  It’s a beautiful thing, originally evolved as a strategy to help us calculate the value of risks and spur us into fight or flight responses.  These days, as a species that has emerged from the drama of the food chain, it is an excellent tool for discovering meaning. What are you most afraid of happening in your life, and what does that say about you?


The Unknown

Something that stops a lot of us from acting is an overwhelming fear of the unknown.  We stick to what we know and feel safe there.  But the unknown is where all the goodies are at!  We gain enormous insight into ourselves (our abilities, our interests, and our values) when we decide to take a risk and dive into a situation that scares the heck out of us. 

What have you said no to because you did not know what would happen?


Failure

Growth happens when we push ourselves and volunteer ourselves for challenges.  Guess what?  It’s probably going to be really uncomfortable... and that discomfort is temporary.  Most of that discomfort will come from the incessant chattering of our roving minds, and (like we point out in Self Acceptance) that inner dialogue consists of thoughts and not necessarily reality

This incessant chattering will tell you that you could fail.  Let’s take a second and look at that, though.  ‘Failure’ is a pretty permanent state.  In reality there is a greater possibility that you could make a ‘mistake.’  What distinguishes failure from mistakes?  Failure is when you choose not to learn from your mistakes and continue to make the same ones or give up trying entirely.  It manifests in many forms, relating to internal concerns of being wrong, or external manifestations of doing something wrong.  Regarding a goof-up with a positive lens and adopting it as fuel for future action can change the entire picture.  Mistakes offer us invaluable lessons and experiences about ourselves and the world that enable our growth.  When we deny the opportunity to take risks and fail, we also bid adieu to growth opportunities.

Funny thing about this constant fear we experience is that mistakes are totally normal.  We are all constantly screwing something up, and thank goodness, because therein lies the opportunity for change.  Countless highly influential people throughout history were repeated failures in their lives.  Some of the smartest folks to walk the planet failed out of school as youngsters.  Most successful businessmen don’t get anywhere the first few times they venture out onto the market.  These people refused to give up in the face of their mistakes and forged onward, learning from any missteps they happened to take.   If these distant famous folks are hard for you to relate to, consider friends, family, and mentors that you deeply respect for their success.  Before arriving in that position they likely failed over and over.

One of our greatest assets in the arena of discovery is this fear of failure.  By dissecting our failures and the fears behind them we can find golden nuggets of insight into our selves and capacities.  Consider how failure fits into the larger picture and what you are ultimately trying to be. 

What have you learned from your failures? 


Questions

What are you most afraid of happening in your life, and what would be the opposite of that?
What have you said no to because you did not know what would happen?
What have you learned from your failures?

Practices

Fail ON PURPOSE.  Expect to fail and do something to experience it, not to succeed at it.
Take risks- do the things you are afraid of.
Embarrass yourself.

Understand Fear as a Hindrance and Opportunity HERE.