Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears. – Les Brown
In my last post I’ve talked about getting started and the excuses we use to justify not pursuing what we want. But it goes deeper than a person’s perfectionist streak. Most of our excuses have a lot to do with fear. We fear rejection, judgement, failing and so on.
Fear is an instinctive reaction: your muscles tense, your heart starts beating faster, you feel unwell. It comes from a time when people lived in constant danger, when a functioning fight-or-flight response meant living though the day. Things aren’t as extreme anymore. But the fear remains.
A tiny dose of fear is normal, if not even welcomed. There is no use in being a fearless idiot. No one will praise a person for bungy jumping from a four story apartment building; best case scenario they’ll end up with minor wounds. Sounds like common sense, but don’t be reckless. That’s not what facing your fears is about.
However, think about how many times through the day you’ve stopped yourself from doing something: making a call, asking someone out, having a difficult conversation, not wearing something, not replying to a text, tiny things. That one time you knew you wanted/had to do something, but you felt your pulse go up a notch and felt a bit sick. That is fear. No, our life isn’t threatened, but our comfort zone is.
I’ve recently read an article from Rory Vaden about the different ways cows and buffalo in the State of Colorado, USA react to storms. It seems completely unrelated, but bear with me. Typically the storms come from the west and go east. While the cows try to run east, away from the storm, the storm catches up with them (obviously cows don’t run very fast) and they end up spending more time being poured on, because they are both moving in the same direction. What the buffalo do on the other hand, as soon as they see a storm approaching, they start running towards it. This way, they end up spending considerable less time in the rain and are happier for it.
This is a great analogy when you apply it to fear. We spend so much time focusing on being scared and not wanting to do stuff, not wanting to burst the comfortable bubble we’re in, that we end up being more miserable in the process. If only we had faced it head on, all that time spent worrying and second-guessing ourselves would have been put to much better use. You won’t be able to cure all your fears just like that, but you can make a difference if you begin today.
Don’t live in fear, live despite your fears. I don’t mean trying to conquer all your fears at once, however, do something today that makes you a little uncomfortable. Start small. Have lunch alone, ask someone out, hold eye contact with someone for the duration of a conversation. Anything. The secret is to figure out why you feel uncomfortable and try to push past that first instinct of “I won’t do it”. Really, what is the worst that can happen? It’s time to face fears head on. Be the buffalo.
Have a eudemonic week!