Letting the Light In – Facing Down Fear

I’m very lucky; because of my work I am regularly in a state of the art sports facility and it recently dawned on me that I really should be making use of the facilities to get myself feeling fitter and healthier. I need to face facts: it’s important at my age and before I know it I will be 50 and wondering why I can barely get out of my armchair.

Anyway, today I did a training session on the punchbag and one of the quotes that is written on the wall of the gym stood out for me:

“Our greatest battles are those with our own mind”

Of these battles, one of the greatest is with an adversary that we all face in various guises at various times and in various situations: fear.

It’s hard to admit to being afraid, hell, even Rocky struggled to admit it to Adrian.

But, like most things in life, fear isn’t inherently good or bad; to quote Shakespeare:

Thinking about fear brought to mind something I’ve seen many times in training: sprinters and boxers pulling tyres. It strikes me as a good analogy: the tyre, like fear, is something that can both hold us back and, if worked against, can build strength and help us to reach our full potential.

At its worst fear can absolutely paralyse us, stopping us from gaining any forward momentum at all; this can apply in our personal and our professional lives. Common fears include fear of failure, fear of loss, fear of regret, and fear of pain.

You know what, FUCK FEAR!

You know what, don’t. Don’t think that fear can be ignored – it is there to teach us something about ourselves and we would be foolish not to heed its lessons. Like all deep, instinctual traits that human beings have, evolution put fear within us for a reason; it serves a purpose for the survival of our species and we should not face our fears recklessly – there is a good reason, for instance, why most of us have an instinctive fear of snakes and picking up a poisonous snake is, for most of us, never a very good idea.But by shining the light of our awareness on our fear and by listening to what it is telling us, we can build not only our strength but our wisdom too. Facing what it is that scares us can point us towards things that we need to address within ourselves, today, to enable us to get out of our own way and to remove the hidden barriers that we often erect on the path towards our future success.

The late Susan Jeffers in her wonderful book, Feel the Fear & Do It Anyway, highlights that at the root of all fears is the fear that we cannot cope. Finding what it is that we feel we can’t cope with and addressing it, learning to trust that whatever happens in life we will deal with it, paves the way for us to reach new and often inconceivable heights. And it also reveals to us the truth of another famous quote:

For when we face and conquer what it is that we are afraid of the overwhelming sense is usually, ‘it wasn’t that bad’; it was the fear that paralysed us and in overcoming it we feel energised.
Facing our fears helps us to develop our confidence in our ability to cope with whatever life throws at us; no matter who we are, no matter how successful, no matter how rich or popular, we all experience fear, worry and doubt, and we all have it within us to conquer it.

The late comedian Bill Hicks talked about a simple choice that each one of us can take to make the world a better place: the choice between fear and love. The former closes us off, from others and from freeing the potential within ourselves; the latter opens us to all manner of possibilities and connection with the very best things that life has to offer

When we face our fears and win, when we are driven by our passions and by love, there really is nothing that we cannot do.

Soundtrack:
There Goes The Fear – Doves

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