If you or your friends have dreams of doing big things, you’ve probably had conversations about fear. Usually those conversations centre on the need to overcome it or how it is holding you back from those big dreams. Google the word fear and after a myriad of definitions you’ll see articles stating that we’re living in the age of fear and blah blah blah. Oh! And then there’s the acronym for fear: False Evidence Appearing Real – which is kind of true – but not quite accurate enough for me.
Recently, I’ve had a good number of conversations with friends and colleagues about fear. All of these conversations have one surprising thing in common: someone has convinced the person that they are afraid of something. WHAAAA?! In many cases, the individual is working with some sort of coach who has identified that the person has some sort of deep seated fear – of success, or some imagined worst case scenario about change. Do you think that is helpful or harmful? I think that now focuses the individual on the fear rather than their desire: harmful.
What I’ve come to know though is that fear, when recognized for what it really is, can be a great gift. In fact, well … in my experience … there are at least 3 gifts I receive from it. First, what is fear? To me, fear is a signal. It is my body’s way of getting information to me. Here is what I’ve come to see as the three best gifts I receive from feeling afraid:
Fear is a signal that I need more information before proceeding.
Usually when I get frustrated, agitated or afraid, I’ve noticed that I am simply lacking information about the situation. A sense of fear provides me with an indication that there’s something important missing that I require before I can process my situation fully and calmly. It tells me to ask more questions; it activates my curiosity!
Fear tells me I’m on track and that this thing I’m about to embark on is important to me.
That moment of feeling afraid makes me stop in my tracks and look around me. It tells me to look at where I am and where I’m headed. In that “hold” moment I get to see that I’m about to do something that I’ve never done before … and it matters! The sad thing is, usually people just stop here rather than take that next step forward into that new thing that matters.
Fear gives me a really good excuse for not doing something I say I desire.
Yes, when you read this it probably does seem pretty silly … I suppose it is! It’s silly and it’s true. Of course we’d never say “I’m not going to do that thing I always talk about because I’m afraid.” We say things like “the timing isn’t right” or “I’m not ready” or “I have all these things to do first” or something like that. No one can argue with your fear – you get a free pass.
WARNING: if you use this free pass too often, people will become immune to your desires. Friends and family will become bored with your stories and assume you’re just never going to do anything. Where you once had cheerleaders, you end up with bored fans watching the least exciting game ever: they’re with you but they just don’t care anymore.
I propose here that if you’re making excuses, perhaps that thing is not what you desire. I know … how DARE I even mention that! I’ll even take it one step further … if you’ve been talking about something for a really long time and still not doing something about it … “because you’re afraid” … it’s REALLY not what you want at all. Go back to Gift #1 and start asking more questions!
So you see … fear is a gift! Fear is simply information for you to take a moment to explore. There is no need to let it rule your life and your desires! And please don’t let fear become the focus in place of your desires.