We’ve all been there, haven’t we?
You know …the times when we’re going to do something that needs us to be a bit brave and we say, ‘Right! I’m going to do it! I’m really going to do it! I am really going for it this time!!’ and then we do nothing. We do nothing because fear stops us in our tracks. It takes the wind out of our sails; it holds us back from moving forward in our lives and sometimes it even paralyses us altogether.
In my 20+ years of teaching and coaching actors, performers and musicians, I have seen many, many hugely talented people give up promising careers because they were paralysed by fear – and it broke my heart.
There are so many things that we’re afraid of nowadays.
Here are just a few:
- Embarrassing ourselves
- Being ridiculed
- Losing those closest to us
- Growing old
- Being ourselves
That list could go on and on.
The thing is, fear steals our happiness. We’re all so afraid of things going wrong that we often completely miss out on the things that could go right and believe me, things will go right far more often than not.
There are two ways of dealing with fear. We can allow it to paralyse us completely and we therefore possibly miss out on a great experience or we can turn it around into excitement and allow the adrenalin to give us the edge so that we go out there and give the performance of our lives. That performance could be public speaking or playing to an audience of thousands; it could be going on holiday on your own or asking someone out on a date; or it might simply be picking up the phone after an argument and making the first move to put things right.
Everyone is afraid and if you don’t believe me you should read Susan Jeffers’ book – ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’. It’s a brilliant book on overcoming fear. I first read it about 20 years ago and it made such a difference to my life that I now recommend it to everyone I meet. Fear isn’t always bad but the problems start when we allow it to hold us back from living the life we really want to live.
As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” and I think this is such a great piece of advice. You don’t have to start with anything that absolutely terrifies you. Start small. Start with something that takes you a tiny bit out of your comfort zone and build up from there. When you start with small steps, bit by bit, your courage and confidence will grow and you’ll be inspired to try other new and even scarier things. If things don’t work out the way you hoped they would you’ll at least be able to see that nothing terrible happened to you, that you survived the ordeal and you lived to fight another day.
I’ll leave you with a brilliant quote from the great Mark Twain.
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”
You can tweet that if you like.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering if I’m afraid of things – of course I am! There are so, so many things that frighten me. In fact, the very thought of hitting the publish button when I write a blog post like this one fills me with dread, but I refuse to let fear hold me back nowadays because that’s all fear is; a thought about something that may or may not happen and I’m willing to take the chance that it won’t happen.
Do you have any stories to tell about a time when fear stopped you from doing something?
Have you overcome fear and gone on to complete something you were dreading? How did that make you feel?
As always, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section.