It’s a sunny day in a warm, tropical place somewhere along the equator of planet Earth. I have never been here. I am lying on my back, perfectly buoyant on the surface of the clear turquoise ocean water which sparkles in the sunlight like diamonds of the sea. There is not a soul in sight – I am alone. I hear nothing but waves thrashing about around me. This bright yellow star that is the center of our solar system beams down on me and toasts my skin just a little bit.
I am in absolute bliss.
There is a deep knowing that my time here in this exact spot is very temporary. I revel in the impermanence of time. Soon, I’m going to make my way under water, for a reason I’m not yet aware of, but I strongly feel that it’s something I am supposed to do, and there is no choice. Perhaps I am following something. I have no breathing apparatus or gear that will help me stay alive beneath the dividing line of earth vs. underworld.
I feel weightless and free – when suddenly a heavy burden of fear overcomes me and my heart begins to pound. I feel my lungs wanting to tremble, not because they are preparing for a sudden change in environment but because the emotion of fear has begun to manifest within my chest. I think to myself, “how am I going to survive this?”. Before my mind even has enough time to prepare my next move, my body starts descending into this giant mass of water, out of my control. I don’t feel a thing. The water has no temperature: it is not cold; it is not warm. There is no change in pressure – no changes at all. I feel nothing externally. Internally, I am nervous about being starved of oxygen as I begin to hold my breath.
Now, I am fully submerged underwater, walking on ocean floor which becomes a gradual slope into deeper, darker, nothingness. But I am not panicking. Instead, I am trusting. I realize my lungs can be consumed by water in a matter of milliseconds and my life will be over. But I need to test my ability to breathe in this state, so I proceed to take a deep breath of air, filling my lungs to its capacity which far surpasses any expectations I had of myself.
I am now breathing underwater! Feelings of elation flood into me instead of an influx of H20, which is really what I had expected with great certainty. Everything is just fine! I am still alive and I am going to survive! It is extremely liberating – to possess this superhuman power (of being a human fish) and to have faced my fear to discover it. In this moment I wish to translate this feeling of liberation into waking life.
And then, I wake up, heavy eyes opening just in time to catch the sun rising from the comfort of my warm and cozy bed in Bay Ridge.
This is the most recent recount of a dream I’ve had more than once and has contributed to my deeper exploration of the concept of fear (which I have spoken about in a previous post).
Have you ever wanted to go for something and were paralyzed by your inability to make a move? Of course you have! Everyone has.
Maybe you didn’t know it was fear that was at play – keeping you from taking the next step forward.
The concept of fear is complex, and it can be divided into 2 types of responses: biochemical and emotional. The type of fear I’ll dive into more here is the emotional response – the highly individualized portion of fear (Lisa Fritscher, The Psychology of Fear).
By definition (according to Dictionary.com), fear is a distressing EMOTION aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined.
In the biochemical sense, fear is a naturally-occurring primitive response that has served as a fundamental survival mechanism all throughout human evolution. This normally causes a physical reaction, commonly known as the “fight or flight” response. Fear is supposed to be a good thing – until it becomes an impediment to our personal growth and development as an emotional reaction and one of the most powerful illusions to ever occur in the human psyche.
Fear can interpreted as:
But we are responsible for deciding what it means for us and how it affects us. We can either:
Every human on this earth wants the same thing. We all want happiness, acceptance, success, health, wealth, peace, love, freedom. And because we’ve been equipped with the most complex brain of all living things, this special tool of ours can either be used for our greatest benefit or become our own worst enemies.
Let’s think about it for a sec.
How many times do you think this emotion has gotten in the way of your own personal freedom? In what circumstances or situations?
How many times do you think you’ve held yourself back from doing or saying something because you were afraid of what could happen?
Like asking for something you want or even having to have those tough conversations? You’ve probably thought things like:
What if I don’t make it?
What if my project gets horrible feedback?
What will this person/my family/friends say or think when I tell them this?
How will they react? Can I really say this out loud? What if I profess my true feelings? What if I am rejected?
What if I lose this person or possession? What if I don’t recover from this loss? What if I don’t get that job?
What will happen if I ask my employer for more money? What if I don’t pass that audition?
What if my entrepreneurial pursuits backfire? What if I humiliate myself if I put myself in this particular situation?
What if I hurt myself or others in the process of achieving what I want? What if I try my best and I still end up failing?
What if? What if?!
Do you relate?
We ask ourselves all the wrong questions far too often! We commit mental suicide in this endless stream of mental garbage that is the filtering of the approximately 6,200 thoughts we have every day. And then we allow our emotions to control our behaviors; we allow the ‘what if’s’ to take over our bodies and its movements. But we cannot let the what-ifs kill us. Instead, we must let them fuel us.
We won’t ever know unless we try!
It takes a lot of failure to succeed, and the fear of failing will get us nowhere but STUCK right where we are.
My confrontation with fear has always been an ongoing battle.
Previously I had been afraid to leave jobs I had become so comfortable doing. I was afraid to leave relationships that weren’t serving me or contributing to my growth anymore. I was afraid to move onto new opportunities and challenges because I didn’t want to fail, and I was afraid to commit to anything because I didn’t want to be ‘stuck’ on something (the irony). I was afraid to truly express myself, and I was especially afraid to pick up on this blog again! I thought, “There are so many blogs out there. How would mine compete? Am I really going to put myself out there and expose myself?”.
It is only until now have I really begun to embrace this inner battle with,
“What do I have to lose?”.
In the process of facing our fears, we need to start letting go of the resistance to how life is going versus how we expect it to be going. If you’re unhappy in your career, change it! If your needs are not being met in your relationships, leave them! If you don’t like where you live, move! If you’re not being challenged enough, seek new opportunities!
We can’t wait to feel “ready” to make a decision. Sometimes we just have to go for it. And if you’re really concerned about the consequences of your actions, then calculate your risk. Weigh the pros and cons. Sleep on it. Then, do it.
We might as well use our innate adaptability skills and learn to deal with the fears that accompany the things that make us feel uncomfortable.
Overcoming our fears leads to manifestation. It’s just a part of the process. It all boils down to two fundamental things: what do you really want and how badly do you want it?
When we are on our path, things fall into place. The things that await us cannot be avoided whether we like it or not. Sometimes those things are nothing we’d ever expect, coming from places, people, and times we’d never expect them to. We can think and speak things into existence even when we’re not ready. We will be FORCED to grow at some point.
And growth is always happening. This is the cycle of life! And it is something totally inevitable. Every living thing that breathes on this planet has the same destiny.
WE ARE BORN → WE GROW → WE LIVE → WE GROW → WE LIVE → WE DIE
This is the reality of nature. We only get one life. ONE. And in this ONE lifetime, we can be granted as much as 100 years or more. 100 years is plenty of time to squeeze all the sweet juices out of life.
So, let’s make it worth it. Let’s make this one life that we are gifted with the best it can be. Stop being afraid to be wrong, to be right. Stop being afraid of what people might say or think. Stop being afraid of moving onto the next chapters of your life. Stop being afraid to fail. Welcome the changes and allow the possibilities to happen! So many people stay in one place because they get comfortable right where they are–they feel safe because it’s what has become familiar to them. The moment you feel comfortable is the moment you should accept a new challenge, advance to the next stage and propel yourself to a new level of growth.
Seek new experiences. Use your time here wisely. Exceed your potential. Get what you can out of what we have been granted. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have any fears, because it’s completely natural to have them and to feel them, but choose how to leverage them!
One of my biggest fears is leaving this earth and regretting not having done more with my life. Let this kind of fear drive you, not paralyze you! Take control of your thoughts and bring them to action.
Life is all about growing. How will we grow if we don’t confront the fears of getting out of what we know is comfortable for us? So, how will you participate in the growth of your life? What will you do with your fear? Let it eat you alive? Or face it and rise?
“Fear is a sickness”
Please feel free to share your thoughts. I would love to hear your stories and struggles with your own fears.