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Adapted from the works of Susan Jeffers, Ph.D.

"If everybody feels fear when approaching something totally new in life, yet so many are out there "DOING IT" despite the fear, then we must conclude that fear is not the problem."

Susan wrote this inspiring piece of wisdom many years ago in her book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, and it holds more truth now than ever. Fear holds us back from attempting to follow our dreams and from living fully in our own lives. When we really think about it, it is not an action, event, or thing that holds us back from trying something new, but rather our fear of it.

Building on that idea, if our fear is not based on an event or thing, where exactly does it come from? It comes from how we feel if something happens. Are you fearful of applying for a new job? You aren’t frightened of getting that new job. You are fearful of being rejected - a feeling. Do you fear traveling? It is not the experiencing of new things and places that you fear. It is probably a fear of getting lost, or being confused, or being alone, or not being in control in a new environment. All of those things are feelings. We fear how we might potentially feel if we make changes in our lives and embrace new experiences.

The major things we fear, such as plane crashes, terrorist attacks, or terrible diseases, would certainly be devastating if they happened. Yet we are far more likely to be injured by falling in a bathtub or slipping on ice or catching the flu. However, we don’t usually fear those things to such a degree that they keep us from bathing, going out in the snow or hugging old friends. When we waste our time and energy fearing terrible things, we create more heartache and hardship for ourselves.

That is not to say that fear doesn’t play a fundamental role in our lives. We are all genetically predisposed to feel fear. It’s how we learned to survive as a species. But as modern humans, we don’t need to be slaves to our fear. We can rise above them. For example, there is an inherent danger in walking across a street. Knowing the danger is there and taking precautions before crossing is far different than not crossing the road at all because there might be a danger. Like many everyday dangers in our lives, we learned at an early age how to handle them. If we look both ways before we cross the street, then the likelihood of being hit by a car is drastically reduced.

Knowing the dangers and taking precautions before proceeding in life can go a long way to alleviate your fear. What helps even more is facing the emotion you might experience if your fear comes true, then examining why you are scared of it. Face the potential feeling that you expect and then move past it. Every time you consciously move past fear you gain more confidence. Confidence allows you to act with inspiration rather than fear. Susan wrote, "You are in control. Each time you find yourself in better control of your life, you are moving to a position of power, which will ultimately reduce your fear level."

It’s important to understand that if we let our fears dictate how we live our lives, then we are giving it power over us. We are letting fear and anxiety control our decisions. In today’s world, it is hard to not be overwhelmed by fear. Any TV news program or internet news website thrives on fear mongering. With all the frightening information bombarding us daily, it is important to be mindful about the how our culture of fear tries to persuade us, scare us and change our behavior.

The basis of the fear remains the same. We fear the possibility of negative outcomes. When we assume the prospect of feeling awful after something bad happens, we miss out on anticipating the multitude of good things that could also happen. For example, if you take a trip to somewhere new, it is possible you might get lost or feel lonely or even get mugged. Yet on that very same trip, you are far more likely to have experiences that are wonderful, exciting and surprising, which will help you grow as a person.

What it comes down to is choice. Choose to fear the results or choose to take the chance that something great will happen to you. Recognizing our fears, understanding that our fear is only one of many potential outcomes, and then choosing to open our arms to the world - that is really the only way to live up to our most wonderful selves.

Copyright © 2015 Susan Jeffers, LLC All rights reserved.

Adapted from Susan's writing in Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway and Feel the Fear and Beyond.

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