This month I thought I would look at an aspect of our thoughts that can both help and hinder us, fear. Fear can be both good and bad, useful or harmful. It can save us or trap us. What would you prefer: enjoy what you have or fear losing it? Fear is something that everyone experiences and for some it can be a life saver and for others prevent them living the life they could have.
There are many quotes about fear, a few examples being:-
‘I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he that does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.’ Nelson Mandela
‘He who overcomes his fears will truly be free.’ Aristotle
‘Fear does not prevent death. It prevents life.’ Naguib Mahfouz
Taking that last example, fear can prevent us being killed when it helps us to respond to imminent danger but fear cannot prevent death which comes to us all but it can prevent us living the life we could have led. The fear of failure, the fear of what others may think or say, prevent many from being who they could be or are meant to be. Has fear of rejection stopped you from applying for a job or promotion, asking someone on a date or accepting an opportunity?
Using the Nelson Mandela example, what could have happened if you had conquered that fear and applied for that job or promotion or asked that person to go out with you or had taken that opportunity?
Yes, you may still have been rejected but at least you would know the answer rather than forever wondering. Look at the positives from taking that step to overcome your fear. You may have gotten that job, that promotion or that date and you may also learn that fearing something can actually be worse than taking action.
Sometimes we may feel that we are the only one who is experiencing that fear and others are more confident and more capable but everyone experiences fear, it’s how we deal with it that matters.
Listening to that fearful thought prevents many people from taking action. They are reluctant to make decisions that could change their lives because of the fear of not being good enough or being rejected. If you find yourself in that situation, challenge that fear by simply writing down the possible outcomes that result from taking action or not taking action. Breaking those outcomes down further can help you decide what to do.
What would happen if you did apply for that job? You would have to complete an application form or an online assessment. That may lead to an interview which is really a chance to tell someone else how good you are and at very the least, provide you with more interview experience. It may result in your being offered the job, a bigger salary, gain new experiences and meet new people. Maybe the increase in pay would allow you to move home or afford something you always needed.
Learning to be aware of our thoughts and recognising that we can take control of those negative and fearful thoughts is something everyone can do. Remember the only things we can truly control are our thoughts, our actions and reactions. Don’t let fear control you but don’t be hard on yourself. If you have let fear control you today, acknowledge it and know that you can change.