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When we imagine things outside of ourselves that we have little or no control over, we experience fear. Yes, even the most experienced professionals amongst us experience fear. Fear is a normal human response. Often too normal that we forget it is there. It is an automatic alarm system embedded in our bodies that alerts us when we perceive a threat. This natural system was created so that we could take action and survive. Many of us allow our fears to take control of our actions. Remember the last time you said, "I'm sorry! I couldn't help it?" It is not uncommon to think that our fears are out of our control. Therefore, we surrender ourselves to our emotional brain (the limbic system) and allow it to react erratically or irrationally in situations that intimidate us.
What we tend to overlook is that in actuality our fear is governed by our perception of what our minds have learnt to classify as fear. Yes, fear is a constructed reality- a learned response. We were not born afraid and our body does not know the difference between a bear approaching us, an argument with a spouse, or that a work related deadline is approaching. It just receives a threat signal from the mind and does what it was created to do- survive.
We all have different fears. Some of us feel ok flying on airplanes while others may freak out. Many of us will even ignore situations to allow ourselves the control of feeling at ease when we don't have to face what scares us. Therefore, we go about our lives not having the conversations we should have, avoiding the tasks we should do, and not making the decisions we need to make. Whether it is confronting someone about why they lied, or taking the risk to quit a job you don't like. We have a natural inclination to keep ourselves from leaning into our discomfort. We are biologically conditioned to protect and survive.
Sometimes our protective mechanisms will keep us in a comfortable spot and limit our growth. A classic example could be gleaned from my decision to start a blog. If I had remained in my zone of comfort this blog would never have been published and I would have been imprisoned by my conditioned fear. A new friend of mine in his attempts to coach me out of my fear asked me what I was waiting for? "Courage", I responded. "Acting in the face of fear is courage", he said.
Courage doesn't come first. You don't gather up the courage to do something. You do it while you are scared and when you have completed your task you experience growth as a result of your courageous act to combat your fear. The decision involves becoming conscious of what you are experiencing, and then overriding that with where you are, and where you want to be.
Take a moment to think about the role fear plays in your life.
What is that one thing you have been putting off for a while?
Why haven't you gotten to it yet?
What comes to mind when you think about doing it?
Recognize what it is limiting you from.
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