Standing at the top of the cliff, video camera in hand, watching the kids leap fearlessly the forty or so feet to plunge out of sight in a veil of bubbles and explode from the surface screaming with joy. I had the conversation one more time.
“WOW! That’s amazing! You’ve been traveling for four years with your family?! Those are your kids?! So cool. I wish I could do that, but….”
She filled in the blank with yet another fear.
I’ve heard them all, I think. Every “reason” for remaining locked in a life she does not love is linked to an underlying fear. A fear that keeps her prisoner.
What are your fears?
Did you notice that I just called some fears “habitual?”
Have you considered that? That being afraid, or allowing the fears to immobilize you, can actually become a habit? Think about that for a second: Have you let that happen? If so, how? What are the habits you’ve allowed to develop that are fear based and keeping you from moving forward?
How do we overcome these fears? Do the people out there “doing it” not have fears? Is it realistic to think that those fears will evaporate and we’ll all of a sudden be filled with bravery?
How do we stop sabotaging ourselves by the things swirling around in our heads?
- Fear of homelessness?
- Fear of health concerns or emergencies?
- Fear of the inability to keep food on your plate, or your children’s?
- Fear of educational deficit for your children?
- Fear of failure?
These are all things that are genuine concerns to be taken seriously and planned for. They are fears that we all face when we leave conventional life behind and reach for a dream.
And they are surmountable. They are “problems” that can be “solved.” They are not reason to turn tail and run. They are obstacles to be overcome. When we overcome those fears, they are magically turned into building blocks toward living our dream instead of big boulders keeping us away from our dreams.
- Fear of the unknown
- Fear of failure
- Fear of loss
- Fear of looking stupid
- Fear of what others will think
- Fear of ridicule
- Fear of hard work
- Fear of actual success (now what?!)
These are the fears that play like tapes in our heads in the dark hours of the night.
And on and on it goes in an evil merry-go-round, keeping us right where we don’t want to be: in the status quo.
Newsflash: Everyone has these irrational fears. Everyone.
Fighting fear with facts
Too many of the fears we have are irrational. They’re based on “stories” we’ve heard, or watching too much Fox News. They’re the fantastically drastic fears of losing life and limb that breed sleepless nights and are born from our sincere desire to control all of the variables and our dependence on the “known” quantities for comfort.
For example: He’s completely comfortable traveling in Washington DC, but is terrified by the prospect of spending six months in Mexico City. It’s dangerous. There are drug wars. Everyone knows that. The reality is that Washington DC is four times more dangerous than Mexico City.
She’s afraid to give your child the freedom to go to the park, or ride his bike alone around the block because of the fear of abduction, or “stranger danger?” Of the 800,000 children reported missing in the USA each year, 115 are stranger abductions, 50 of those will return home unharmed within 24 hours. This means that your massive fear of abduction for your child equals a 0.0000625% chance of coming true.
Fight your fears with facts. When you run the numbers instead of reacting from an emotional place, it gets a lot easier to set aside that fear and move forward.
Fighting fear with plans
Another set of fears falls into the, “What will I do if…” category.
- If I run out of money?
- If someone gets sick?
- If someone is seriously injured?
- If we aren’t having fun?
- If I fail completely?
Many of these fears can be combatted by planning properly: Develop your income streams, set aside money for the worst-case-scenario, look into healthcare options, insurance, and medical evacuation. You can put into place contingency plans for your big “What if’s.”
Fighting fear with experience
Getting a Grip
Make lists: long, thorough, exhaustive lists of everything you’re afraid of. Then start pushing through. Consider what you can do to prepare for the rational ones. Educate yourself on the irrational ones. Talk to people who’ve done what you want to do and shine the light of experience into the dark and fearful corners. Preparedness is the antidote to fear, remember?
What separates the Dreamers for the Doers at the end of a lifetime is the ability to push past fears, prioritize the rational ones and swallow the irrational, moving forward.
Fear is common to man. The question is, can you get beyond it?