def: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
Fear is good. We need it at times in order to avoid threatening situations. However, many of us experience fear quite often when our situations(s) are not actually dangerous. Sometimes we feel the same fear-based physical sensations in our body when we’re stress or anxious that we would if we were getting attacked or hurt. Panic takes over. Your mind focuses on everything that could possibly go wrong and very little on what could go right.It's easy to forget that just because something feels scary, new or risky doesn't mean it's a real threat. Click To Tweet
You can choose to avoid this feeling as much as possible by saying no to everything that sounds even remotely scary. You can keep doing only the things that make you comfortable. You can avoid taking risks most of the time and maybe even live a mediocre life this way.
If mediocre sounds okay to you, go for it. I’ll admit, there’ve been times where living an alright life seemed the best route for me. I’ve gotten to points where I was tired of stressing, worrying and being afraid. I made career and relationship choices in those times that helped me ward off as much of that yucky fear feeling as possible.
Needless to say, the times when I focused on seeking security over growth weren’t particularly impressive periods of development for me. By doing what was most comfortable, instead of what had the potential to be amazing, I let fear determine my decisions, or shall I say, lack of decisions.
My job felt good enough, but never rewarding. I worked and lived for the weekends. I lived in an apartment that felt decent. My workout routine (running one hour daily) was stale, and ineffective. The guys I dated felt fine for now at best. Life wasn’t bad, but what could these things have been if I wasn’t so focused on my fears?
Some Things I’ve Feared.
I’ve been married for almost 10 years now. I married an incredible man and life has been very, very good with him. That doesn’t mean our marriage comes without challenge or constant hard work. I guess I was right to be a bit afraid. Right, Mike?
Prior to turning 25, I loved my independence, didn’t trust anyone enough to give them my whole heart and feared every single potential challenge that came with settling down. I tried to convince myself that finding “the one” sounded boring, but now looking back, I was just afraid of commitment.
I was never one of those women who “couldn’t wait to be pregnant.” I always thought pregnancy was weird and freaky. You can’t drink wine, you’re probably going to feel like crap all the time and, oh yah, you actually have to get that baby out of your body in one way or another. And how the heck was I going to exercise with a giant belly out front?
That was just part of my pregnancy fears. Forget the actual motherhood part. I was full of questions on that one since it lasted way longer than 9 months. How would I get through sleepless nights? Would I have to drag whiney humans with me on every beloved shopping trip from here on out? Are my husband and I destined to hate each other after we have kids ruling our lives? Will he even help with anything child-related? Will I see my friends again? Is my stomach going to be mushy forever? Is it going to be hard to really bond with my children? Will I be able to love them more than anything in the whole world?
I was not ready to have kids for awhile and I’m glad I waited until I did, but more than that, I’m glad I didn’t let fear hold me back from the best decision(s) of my life. My boys.
Spending large amounts of money.
Okay, I’m still afraid of this one. I get anxious (read: experience fear) when we invest in something huge. Like, what will happen if we buy this thing, but need something else more? Or if it’s the wrong thing and we change our mind? How do we know we’ll be able to pay our bills if we do this?
I don’t feel fear when we’re talking about smaller things, like buying clothes, grabbing dinner, and usually not even with taking trips. I heart vacations. <3
My stress is usually more around some making huge investments in our home or business. Sure, there are risks involved when you’re making investments, but I’m starting to see that investing your money in the things you truly care about is a very, very good thing.
Even if deep down I know we can afford the things we buy, and the money we put back into the gym, I still get scared. Of what exactly? Honestly, I don’t know. Being broke? Homeless? Making a decision I regret? Looking like a fool. Feeling careless? I’m not 100% sure.
I’m a work in progress here and I’m getting much more comfortable investing in things that matter most to me. The things that will get my money and not my fear are things that will improve my health, relationships, business and, yes, my home. #homebody
There have been several quotes around this message, but it’s important to remember. I actually like thinking about spending as investing… it helps quell the fear a bit as it sounds much more productive.Show me where you spend your time and money and I'll tell you what you value. Click To Tweet
Starting a business.
Ditching a salary/insurance/vacation time…
I don’t think this one needs a lot of explanation. If you’ve ever quit a stable job where you got a paycheck every 2 weeks and decent health insurance, I know you feel me.
Jumping ship was scary as hell, but man I didn’t realize how much time and energy I was wasting being miserable in my cube every day for ten years. Spending that amount of time in that much misery has gotta be pretty costly too, doesn’t it?
I don’t think I would change much as I’m better at being a business owner now due to the time I spent in my other jobs, but I do wonder what would have happened had I gone after something I loved earlier in life, before having kids and more responsibility.
Hiring and asking for help.
As a business owner, it’s beyond scary hiring people and trusting them with your business. We have to trust our employees with confidential, very personal, information at times. We also have to have confidence that everyone on our staff is going to represent our business well in every interaction with our clients. And, believe me, in our business there are many!
Similarly, as a mom, it’s scary to hire people and trust them with your kids. I think there are pretty obvious reasons for that and it serves you well to be slightly afraid of that in this crazy world. It’s kind of a valid fear. That doesn’t mean you should let it hold you back from living your best life. And yes, your best life includes having one outside of your children.
Sidenote: This isn’t limited to paid help. When I ask for help with my kids from anyone, even those closest to me, including my parents and spouse, I notice sometimes I still feel afraid to ask. It’s not a trust thing. It’s not a money thing. I think it’s more that I don’t want to be lazy and I don’t ever want to have my parents, husband, daycare, babysitter, employees think I’m taking advantage of them. I wonder how often is too often to ask for help sometimes.
Just know you can’t do everything all alone all the time. It’s true what they say…teamwork really does make the dream work. This goes for work and home. It’s a great investment to find people you trust to take care of your clients, your kids, and maybe even parts of your house. Then, it’s up to you to take care of those people, express gratitude and treat them well so it’s a mutually beneficial relationship.
Live Your Best Life
The list above includes some of the things I’ve been most afraid of. Not surprisingly, these “risks” are also those that have made my life infinitely better.
Last week, I wrote about comparison. The gist of it is that you’re going to compare yourself to others, and to yourself, so you might as well learn to use comparison as a way for personal growth.
Similarly, you’re going to experience fear. It’s unavoidable. Like I mentioned last week, you can’t think your way out of a feeling problem. What you can do is change how you respond.
Next time you’re afraid of something, I recommend sitting with the feeling. Ask yourself WHY you’re afraid. Ask yourself what’s the worst thing that will happen if you do this scary thing and it doesn’t go as planned? (It’s probably not as bad as you’ve been thinking.)
Finally, ask yourself what’s the best thing that could happen if you do this scary thing? Once you answer that, know that what can happen when you take the risk might be even better in real life than you imagine.
Here's why. When you focus on growth, instead of fear, your potential to live a great life increases exponentially. Click To Tweet
There is something crazy fulfilling when you do something that scares the shit out of you and it all works out okay, or better than imagined.
Is fear determining your major life decisions? What do you really want deep down inside that scares you so much you’re afraid to take a leap?
If you’re not facing your fears and making some difficult decisions, you’re simply not the best version of yourself. If a mediocre life is good enough for you, keep at it. However, if you’re ready to face your fears and take the best route instead of the comfy route, now’s as good a time as ever!