When my daughter was about five years old we spent a day at this beautiful ferry landing. It was a park setting right on the San Diego bay and was filled with streams, rocks, and trees. I watched her climb one of those trees until she was about six feet off the ground.
At this point she said, “Look how high I climbed, Mom!”
I instantly went into panic mode – my palms got a little sweaty, my throat was tight, and every instinct in my body wanted to tell her to climb down right away.
But I didn’t.
What I was feeling was my need to protect her but somehow I knew that I also needed to prevent my fear from holding her back. And that this would be the beginning of teaching her not to be afraid. So in complete contrast to every single cell in my body screaming at me, I said, “That’s great, honey – can you go higher?”
To which she smiled broadly and did exactly that.
A few years later she was climbing a rock wall at the community center and I heard her say to a friend who was just learning, “It’s okay to be scared, as long as you don’t let it stop you.”
You were not born to be afraid – you were born to be brave.
Fear is just a physical and emotional response to something new, producing a surge of energy, and designed to alert us to possible danger. It is part of our survival instinct. And it is also a fabulous tool that can come in handy if you choose to tap it to propel you forward.
Case in point – “adrenaline junkies” use fear to jolt them into taking greater and greater risks. And reaper bigger and better rewards.
As a child, you were taught to be afraid.
- Don’t touch the stove, you’ll get burned.
- Don’t play in the street, you’ll get hit by a car.
- Don’t run with scissors, you’ll put an eye out.
Many of us learned to be afraid of EVERYTHING new, not just new dangers.
Most new things that come into your life are things to be embraced, we just have a tendency to respond as if we’ll die if we try them. Aside from jumping out of an airplane or crossing a river of flowing lava, there are not that many new and scary things in your day that will actually kill you.
If you do the thing you fear quickly, you feel the fear only once. Once you’ve done it, the fear is gone – replaced with palpable relief and smoking hot confidence. The longer you put it off, the longer you have to feel afraid until “feeling scared” becomes a habit – the way you feel all the time.
To break that habit, start doing things quickly. Don’t ruminate. Don’t over think it. Just act quickly. (Hint: this is one of the true secrets of the super-successful).
The only way to stop living with fear is to do the very thing that has you so freaked out.
Go ahead and take a chance.
Risk being rejected.
Make a mistake.
Be your own adrenaline junkie and give yourself the gift of doing something scary.
Look at the people you admire – I’ll bet they seem fearless. I assure you, they are not. They just know that fear is part of the deal, but only for as long as they hesitate – like ripping off a band-aid. Remember, it’s okay to feel scared, as long as you don’t let it stop you.