Jan 032011

One of the biggest obstacles to shrugging off the yoke of a “normal” life is getting past the fear of what might happen.  Our fear holds us in check and keeps us from experiencing life the way it is meant to be experienced.  For centuries, society has taught us that specialization in a field is the only way to succeed.  We’ve been conditioned to expect failure if we step away from that.  For many, myself included, overcoming that fear is the first step towards living the life of a 21st Century Human.  But, how do we overcome our fear?

Fear is a funny thing.  A person can experience fear of something as simple as speaking in front of a group, but feel completely at ease jumping out of an airplane with nothing but a parachute strapped on.  Fear can manifest itself in both rational and irrational ways.  Fear of speaking, for example, can be thought of an irrational fear.  After all, there’s little to no chance that the group will do anything worse than stand up and walk out of the room.

Fear, at it’s most basic, is an emotion.  Humans are an emotional being, and we use our emotions to guide us.  But, we also are built such that we can control our emotions.  We can override them.  Overcoming a fear is nothing more than controlling and overriding an emotion.  That’s at it’s most basic.

For centuries, humans have used tools to overcome difficulties.  Overcoming emotions (overcoming fear) isn’t all that much different.  If you find the right tool, you can face, and, ultimately, control and override that fear.

AraignéeRationalization can be that tool.  Give your fear a rational consequence.  Ask yourself, what is the worst that can happen if I do what I fear.  Be careful, though, to not let your fear influence your rationalization of it.  For example, a possible consequence of overriding a fear of spiders is that the spider climbs up your arm and
bites you, poisoning you and resulting in your death.  But, looking at it rationally, there are very few spiders whose bite can kill you quickly enough that you can’t receive help that will save you.  So, a truly rational way to look at it would be to say that the worst that could happen is that the spider would bite you and you’d have to receive treatment for the bite and suffer a recovery period.

The same is true for most fears. Ask yourself, what’s the worst that can happen if I do this? If the answer isn’t unbearable, then, your fear is unfounded.

What is your fear keeping you from doing?  Don’t let your fear override your need for happiness.  Control your fear, and overcome it.

Creative Commons License photo credit: JR Guillaumin