So, I want to ask you something. This is just a question really.
Are you ready?
Okay, so here it goes.
What is fear?
I ask this but I am not in search of an actual definition. I am not looking to hear what the dictionary says. The truth is we all know what the dictionary says about fear. We know this is a feeling. We know this is a worry. This is a concern. Fear is an emotion of some impending danger.
There are fears of falling. There are people who are afraid of heights. There are people that are afraid of snakes, bugs, spiders and dogs. There are people afraid of thunder and lightning. Especially now with the world as it is; there are people afraid of germs. There are people afraid of being sick and people afraid of doctors, needles, dentists and the list goes on.
But still, what is fear?
What does fear do for us? One could argue that fear protects us. One could say that fear is what teaches us not to touch the hot stove again out of fear that we might be burned again.
Think of an animal. Think of a deer, timid as ever. A deer hears a sound and then it runs away, leaping and jumping, and running away until the deer finds safety. Once the deer finds safety, the deer goes back to eating grass or doing whatever it is that deer will do. One thing the deer does is it stops. The deer is not running or looking for safety. The deer stops. Humans are less fortunate. Our brains are more complicated. Our brain doesn’t stop. And put simply, we are not built to withstand the state of constant fear. We are not built to be in fight or flight mode, all day, every day.
Still, what is fear? Is it rational? Is it real?
Or is this something we have invented ourselves?
Is fear nothing more than a concept in our minds?
Always afraid to be “Found out”.
Always afraid to miss, to try and fail, to fear the worst because we expect the worse.
Is this not accurate?
Natural fears are understandable. It’s clear why certain fears exist. For example, if we saw a bear in the woods and the bear was running towards us; fear makes sense.
If there was an explosion that took place or word of a fire; fear makes sense. If there was absolute danger right in front of us; once again, fear makes sense.
There is real fear and physiological fears. There are fears that apply to vanity and to ego. There are fears of inadequacy and fears of being incapable. There is financial fear and professional fear as well as personal fear and emotional fear that is made up from the mapping of our left-over lives. There are fears of being publicly exposed and humiliated or adversely, there are people that live with fears that never seem to be noticed.
What is fear?
Fear is an idea that creates a chain of events and leads to an end-result of a chemical change in our body. This effects our chemistry. Fear is a memory. Fear is a concept. Moreover, fear can be overcome. We just have to learn how.
Fear is not always rational. Instead, most fears are frequently irrational. And sometimes you find what it takes to face your fears. You tremble and you shake. Your anxiety climbs to an uproar and the adrenaline hits like an uncomfortable, electric surge that bolts through your entire body. But when it’s done and when you faced this down, there is a saying that often comes afterwards. As tough as it was, you pulled your way through. Maybe you find yourself on the other side of your fear now. Maybe you find yourself saying, “That wasn’t so bad!”
So again, I ask you:
What is fear?
What are we really afraid of?
Is this real fear or is this physiological?
Is it our ego?
Is it our vanity?
Is this something that stems from a mishap in our childhood?
Still, what is this?
What are the thoughts, ideas, or memories that act like a road block and prevent us from reaching our best potential?
Is it failure?
Is fear a bias or a subconscious program?
Is it the fear of personal rejection or shame and vanity really a concern that we are seen as anything less than perfect?
Why is it that people are afraid to discuss their fears?
Would this mean there is a fear of fear?
What is this?
There is a life ahead of us. And oh, yes, there will be things to be afraid of. There will be times when life is not going to play fairly and neither will others around us. There will be moments of pain. There will be distress and depression and there will be times when all seems lost. These are uncomfortable times. It makes sense to be afraid of discomfort.
And I admit it. I am afraid.
I do public speaking events.
And I’m afraid.
I have social anxiety. Some nights, I can’t hardly sleep.
Because I am afraid.
I have fears of being locked up or taken away.
I have fears of leaving my fingerprints on things.
I have fears of rejection, failure and fears that I will be ostracized or cast out and be absolutely unwanted and unincluded.
This is all very real to me.
My fears are different now. I used to be afraid to shoot and miss. I used to be afraid to look bad. I was afraid that I would be disregarded or unincluded. I was afraid to miss the punchline or worse; I was always afraid to learn the joke was on me and that in fact, I was the joke. I used to be afraid that I would never add-up or match up or be “Good enough”.
I spent so much time focusing on my fears that I missed out on lifetimes of opportunity. I missed birthdays and special occasions.
I might have been there in the flesh. But yet, my fears were there too. This meant that I was never really present. This meant I never had the chance to enjoy myself.
I never dared to live in the moment because I was too afraid something was going to come along and steal the moment from me.
So I hid.
I tried to protect myself. I spent so much time trying to hide from my fears and protect myself that one of my biggest fears eventually became reality.
I found myself alone. I found myself down and out. I was depressed. I could hardly stand up or get out of bed. I was beaten. Most of all, I found out that my imagination took precedence over my real life.
All that I had imagined was only a mental invention.
What is fear?
Many fears are only as real as we allow them to be.
I can say don’t be afraid but this wouldn’t be fair.
Instead, I can say that being afraid is perfectly fine.
Be afraid. Be aware. But be advised, there is a great big world out there. And no matter what we wish for, the world will not pause nor cease or stop. It’s okay to be afraid.
I am afraid too.
What would it look like if we were to put our fears together. I’ll help you face yours and you can help me face mine. And when we’re done, we can look at each other and say, “Hey, you know what? That wasn’t so bad!”
I learned to realize the only way I will ever beat my fears is to know that I am bigger than my fear.
We all are.