Face Your Fear
You know the feeling. It is the stomach-churning sense of dread that paralyzes you in your tracks. Left to its own devices, it will seep into the background of every thought you have – keeping you up at night and making every day a living hell. When let outside without a leash it runs amok – distorting the way you see the world and others. It steals your joy. It steals other people’s joy – those inspired by your vision and enthusiasm when you are at your best and those injured by your hurtful words when you are in its clutches.
Because you know what? Fear feels a lot like anger. Many think they are angry at little Tommy because he left his skateboard out again; when, in reality, they are afraid about tomorrow’s presentation. Let’s equip ourselves to stop this cycle before it causes us to inflict further damage to Tommy’s psyche.
Of course there is fear of failure, but there is also of fear of failing to try, fear of failing to reach your full potential, fear of failing to “see” something, and of course fear of being afraid – a catchall just in case you can’t think of anything concrete to be afraid of. It’s a strange sense of foreboding that often dogs us when things appear to be going well. It taunts us in a “You don’t deserve to succeed” kind of way. It smothers any hope of celebration with a soggy blanket of “Just you wait. It’s about to hit the fan.”
Why do we do this? Why do we entertain such mental folly? It’s as if we lose all ability to see ourselves as we truly are. Yet the opposite of this feels reckless. Like leaving port with our head in the clouds and no lifeboats on deck. What if the feeling of fear is not what’s bad, but what we do with it is? Perhaps it is HOW we are responding to this saboteur that is getting in our way.
What if we identified this toxic feeling at its onset, instead of allowing it to lurk in the background of our lives? Sapping our energy like a low-grade fever. What if we reframed the feeling and called it excitement? What if instead of falling prey to a slew of dire outcomes we took on this feeling as soon as we felt it, identified the true issue at hand, looked it in the face and called it excitement? What if we asked it to dance? You’re not weak because you feel fear. That just means you are about to do something exceptional. You are a Viking.
“I feel angry at everyone I encounter right now.”
Becomes: “I am starting a new client next week. It has a lot of potential and I am excited for the opportunity to do a good job for them and to make the world a better place.”
Those who can do this enjoy a life of endless possibility. They can take a throwaway project and infuse it with wit and life. Where most see random concepts and people, they see a symphony of possibilities. Fruitful collaborations. What might look like wild brilliance is really a person who has agreed to dance with the boogieman, thus rendering his power useless. They connect with people in a playful and generous way. They galvanize others with their sense of wonder. Simply put, the world is made a richer place for having them in it.