Fear is and has always been the greatest enemy of mankind. The conquest of fear is perhaps the greatest challenge you will ever face in life. When Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” he was poetically explaining that the emotion of fear, rather than the reality of what we fear, is what causes us anxiety, stress, and unhappiness.
Overcoming fear is essential to your success. The future belongs to the risk-takers, not the security seekers. Life is perverse in the sense that, the more you seek security, the less of it you have. But the more you seek opportunity, the more likely it is that you will achieve what you desire.
When you develop the habit of courage and unshakeable self-confidence, a whole new world of possibilities opens up for you.
Fortunately, the habit of courage can be learned just as any other habit is learned — through repetition. We need to constantly face and overcome our fears to build up the kind of courage that will enable us to deal with the inevitable ups and downs of life. The starting point in overcoming fear and developing courage is to look at the factors that predispose us toward being afraid.
The root source of most fear is childhood conditioning.
During childhood, we most likely received destructive criticism. Although well-intentioned, parents, teachers, and mentors are often too critical of children. “What is wrong with you?” How could you be so irresponsible?” “Why didn’t you get the best?”
As I mentioned in last week’s newsletter, this causes us to develop two major types of fear:
- The fear of failure, which causes to think “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.”
- The fear of rejection, which causes us to think “I have to, I have to, I have to.”
Fear is also caused by ignorance.
When we have limited information, our doubts dominate us. Ignorance causes us to fear change, fear the unknown, and avoid trying anything new or different. Think about the parts of your life where you have no fear at all because you know exactly what you’re doing. You feel competent and completely capable of handling whatever happens.
With all the recent events in our communities, our country, and the world, it’s clear to see that ignorance breeds fear. If we only took the time to learn more, educate ourselves, and understand what we may not know, we would have the courage to change everything. The more we know, the less we fear.
Once you have identified the major factors that cause you to feel afraid, the next step is to objectively define and analyze your personal fears.
- Write “What am I afraid of?” at the top of a clean sheet of paper.
You can also open a word document or a note on your mobile device.
- Write down every major and minor fear that you have.
Think about the aspects of your work and personal life where your fears might be holding you back or forcing you to stay in a job or relationship in which you are not happy.
- Arrange them in order of importance.
What are your biggest fears? Which ones do you need to conquer first?
- Write out the worst possible outcome of each fear/situation.
What is the worst possible thing that can happen as a result of this problem? Will you lose your money? Relationships? Job? Prestige? Write it down.
- Resolve to accept the worst possible outcome, should it occur.
Once you’ve done this, you no longer have anything to worry about because you’re no longer resisting to face the worst possible outcome.
- Begin to improve upon the worst.
Now think of everything that you could possibly do to make sure that the very worst does not occur.
Remember, everyone is afraid of something. It is normal and natural to be concerned about your physical, emotional, and financial safety and that of the people you care about. A courageous person is not a person who is unafraid. As Mark Twain said, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear — not absence of fear.