“Courage is fear that’s said its prayers.” (Dorothy Bernard, author)
I decided voluntarily to change my career and lifestyle in 2006, after living and working in the same place for several decades. I was over fifty, and I moved to take a career opportunity in a place where I didn’t know anyone. My friends and colleagues told me I was out of my mind and absolutely crazy, but they also told me how “gutsy” I was. I knew life as I had known it was going to change anyway and it was time for a new chapter and adventure. I took the leap and have never looked back.
Fear is such a powerful and debilitating mental condition. I know fear has kept me from doing many things.
The unbelievable truth about fear is it usually is not grounded in reality. Read any psychology 101 book, and it will tell you we build up most fears in our minds and make them into mountains. Our fears develop from our experiences, traumas, and situations, which are usually unresolved over many cycles and parts of our lives.
When I was in my twenties and thirties, I had a fear of my mother dying, so I decided to spend less time with her so I wouldn’t have to face those feelings. She was diagnosed with breast cancer, had to have chemotherapy and radiation, and ended up being a fourteen-year survivor! That moment, when I realized cancer did not have to be fatal, showed me how fear was keeping me from enjoying her now.
This is just one example of how fear robs us of living and experiencing life to its fullest. I have always been adventuresome and curious, and while I thrived on challenge and accomplishment, fear has held me back several times over my life when opportunity has knocked on my door. Thoughts like “I can’t,” “What will happen if I fail,” and “What will they think of me,” pervade our thinking all the time.
To deal with fear realistically, I had to figure out whether a fear was what I call GIR (Grounded In Reality) or a NGIR (Not Grounded In Reality). This took years. I still have moments of paralysis, but they do not last very long. I focus on my capabilities, on the now, and on taking action.
First, list the key fears you have now in two columns: Grounded In Reality or Not Grounded In Reality. Then, answer these questions with regard to each fear:
- Why do I have this fear?
- What’s the worst that can happen?
- Who can I reach out to for encouragement and support?
- Do I need some professional help?
Don’t allow fear to hold you back from living your life. You will miss out on way too many opportunities to do things and meet people who will impact and shape your life forever. Remember: Life is a meandering stream.
Don’t let fear rule your life. Build and use a support team to talk it out and work it out. Get some professional help. Take small steps and do a few things that can make a big difference. Work on the fears holding you back now.
I guarantee when you get to the other side and you look back at the mountain you made out of the molehill, you will be proud of yourself!
Deborah Shane is the chief motivator, educator and catalyst of the professional development consulting company, Train With Shane.
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