Some thoughts about fear.

Cancer is a scary word. Cancer is a scary thing.  Living with cancer is often a life of uncertainty, a loss of control and, some would say, scary.  But so many of us (all of us?) live with fear. And it is interesting how our decisions are so influenced by fear.  Not just those living with cancer, but all of us.  And even before we found cancer, we often found ourselves living in fear.

Recently, on a street very close to my house, several people waiting for a bus were killed when a driver lost control of his car on a curve and hit them.  Fear totally directed that young man’s decisions in driving that car.  Out of fear of not being important or good enough, he challenged another driver to race him at the stoplight.  He had to prove himself to a total stranger to feel good enough out of fear of not being enough. He was doing 80 miles an hour when he got to the curve posted for 35.  He ended up justifying his fear–he killed two people and injured another.  Wow! Fear of not being good enough led him to make choices that reinforced the feeling of not being good enough.

But, for most of us the decisions we make are much more subtle. One of my friends recently purchased a gift for her nephew’s birthday.  She spent a lot of time thinking about the perfect gift, then found a small local store to purchase the item from. It was an electric guitar.  After a lot of discussion with the store owner, she purchased a guitar that was in stock rather than order the exact one she wanted and, while it wasn’t exactly what she had envisioned it, she was very happy with it.  Until she got home.  The more she thought about what she had wanted and what she had purchased, the more she wished she had ordered the one she original envisioned.  But, she was too afraid to take it back.  She would have purchased one from another store before taking it back because “she was embarrassed and afraid to look stupid.”  Her fear wound up costing her several hundred dollars.

So, perhaps most of us would have taken the guitar back. But how many times each day do we make choices out of fear.  Fear of not being good enough, fear of not having enough, fear of being unworthy or unlikable or unloved?  Every time we hold back, every time we take the easy way out, we can trace it to fear.  Yesterday, I finally made a phone call that has been on my to do list for a week–just because I felt afraid.  Once I made the call, it was actually pretty easy.

I used to hold myself back from exercise or active events out of fear–fear I would look stupid, fear I would be awkward, fear I wouldn’t be as good as every one else. Wow! I would compromise my own health out of fear. Fear of being embarrassed due to being out of shape and overweight led me to make decisions to not exercise to get into shape. (Not really much different than the young man in the car, really.)And the interesting thing is, I am not alone.  I have met many and know many people who have the same fear based decision making pattern. People who are struggling financially who don’t open bills when they come, people who are having a hard time getting customers who are afraid to go to networking meetings, people who are having slow sales but are afraid to do calls.  Our fears just reinforce our beliefs that lead to the fear.  But how incredible when we bypass the fear and just do it (ok, so I stole that from Nike:)).

I finally committed to a training program.  And, while it certainly isn’t always comfortable (I am the heaviest and most out of shape in the group) and I often cannot do what everyone else can, I have learned to laugh at myself in a gentle way.  And, it really isn’t as bad in reality as it is in my mind.  IF you could have seen me last night trying to balance on the bosu, you would have cracked up.  As did I.  And guess what! No one else in the group even cared.  They were too worried about what they were doing to laugh at me.  And that is the key.  People really are much less judgmental toward us than we are to ourselves.

(BTW, this is not me on the bosu.   I only wish I was this steady on it–I could barely stay on it with both feet:))

So, where does fear hold you back? Where could you find one fear to bypass today and just do it?

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