Breaking Through the Fear Barrier

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There is a Japanese proverb that says, “Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.”

It’s mental thing, a form of insanity really. We silly humans create all this anguish when our actual circumstances are just wonderful. Why do we do this?

One idea I have is that we are creatures of habit. We enjoy the comfort that comes with the familiar. We are experts at our jobs we go to everyday, the distant bond we have with our brother, and our favorite processed foods that we pick up at our neighborhood grocery store. We may bitch and moan about these people and situations and things, but there is a kind of comfort that comes from this complaining as well.

So, you are probably wondering … what does this have to do with fear? I was headed somewhere, yes. Fear comes in when we catch ourselves complaining, and realize that we are unhappy. This realization propels us into some kind of action. Maybe we decide to take a class at our local community college, or to write an honest and revealing letter to our brother, or to start purchasing some exotic or organic products and veggies at the market.

These acts, in and of themselves, are not fear-inducing. (It is not like we decided to punch a polar bear in the nose!) What causes the fear are the scenarios that we play out in our minds: What if I fail the class? What if my brother ignores my heartfelt letter? What if I do not have the discipline to eat healthier food? I will be a failure. I will be embarrassed. I will be unhealthy and unattractive.

As Dostoyevsky so eloquently put it, “Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.”

Self-inflicted negative messages keep us from following through on our action. Or we may act, but with little heart. And our feeble efforts will likely deter us from taking action in the near future.

This is tragic because taking action is living. And I’m not talking about just surviving; I’m talking about soaking up and experiencing all there is each and every day.

But keep in mind we humans are individuals, and we are each wired differently. What may seem like a walk in the park to one person may seem like a tight rope walk over a vast gorge to another. You know who you are.

So, take a look inside yourself, and dig as deep as you can go. And when you are fully aware of your surroundings, use that deep true part of yourself to propel yourself forward. Act with a certainty that comes from knowing you are capable. And don’t be afraid to congratulate yourself for stepping out of your comfort zone. Each of us has own security blanket that we need to walk away from. What’s yours?

Once you discover that, you can consciously put it down, and step beyond it. From there things will become easier.

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”—Andre Gide (French writer, humanist and moralist, 1947 Nobel Prize for literature, 1869 to 1951)

Sometimes I think my writing is my security blanket. I love to come into my office and write by myself. But, even though I want to push past my fears, and begin leading seminars, I know I will return to my writing. And, just because we leave our security blankets to venture off, does not mean that it is not healthy to return to them for comfort from time to time … in my humble opinion, that is.

Of course, there is no such thing as security, whether it is a blanket or a job or a marriage. Since the only constant is change, the sooner we embrace the scary, but enticing roads not taken, the sooner we realize that who we are is not defined but what we cling to.


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