Sometimes the biggest barrier to achieving what you are capable of in life, is your own fear. It might be a fear of failing, a fear of rejection, a fear of criticism, even a fear of embarrassment; the list of possible fears is endless. Too often, fear paralyzes and derails good intentions, and keeps you from moving ahead and creating the life you truly desire.
In one of my favorite books “Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway” the author Susan Jeffers offers some powerful insights about how to overcome fear. Susan’s research found that whenever we take a chance and enter unfamiliar territory or put ourselves into the world in a new way, we experience fear. The trick is to feel the fear and do it anyway.
Her book reveals that there are actually three distinct levels of fear.
The first level she calls surface fears. Surface fears are fears about things that might happen to you such as becoming disabled, losing your job, being alone, or just the simple fear of the changes themselves. It also includes things that require new actions as well, things like changing careers, ending or beginning a relationship, public speaking, and intimacy.
Level two fears involve the ego. These fears have to do with our inner state of mind rather than external situations. Things like being rejected, ridiculed, embarrassed, and so on.
The third and final level of fears incorporate what Susan considers our deepest fears. She defines level three as the biggest fear of all, the one that really keeps you stuck. And that fear is simply the fear that “I can’t handle it.” Her point is that at the bottom of every fear you experience is the fear that you can’t handle whatever life may bring you.
She asks the question: “But what if you knew you could handle anything that came your way, what would you possibly have to fear?” The answer is nothing!
To help you “Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway,” Susan came up with what she calls “The 5 Truths of Fear.”
- The fear will never go away as long as I continue to grow.
Maybe not what you wanted to hear, but I think there is a relief that comes with you no longer having to work so hard to try and eliminate the fear. What happens is that as your confidence grows, your relationship with fear dramatically changes.
- The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it.
If this sounds contradictory to Truth 1, it’s not. Fear of particular situations dissolve when you finally confront them. And in fact, Susan’s research showed that this is the only way to quiet a fear.
- The only way to feel better about myself is to go out and do it.
This is important, the “doing it” comes before the feeling better about yourself.
- Not only am I going to experience fear whenever I’m on unfamiliar territory, but so is everyone else.
This one usually comes as a relief. Often, we think were the only person who experiences these fears when in fact everyone does – it’s perfectly normal.
- Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness.
Susan found that no matter how “secure” any of us feel in the cocoon we have built for ourselves, we live, consciously or unconsciously, with the fear that the day of reckoning will eventually come. Ultimately, it’s less frightening to just take the fear head-on.
In Susan’s own words:
“As far as I know, everyone feels fear as he or she moves forward through life. It is absolutely possible that there are some evolved souls in this world who never experience fear and I have not met them. If I do, I promise I will become their avid student and report back to you with their secrets. You see, I know on some deep level there is nothing to fear. It’s the surface level that needs convincing. In the meantime, I’ve learned to “feel the fear and do it anyway!” As I do, whether I feel the fear or not becomes irrelevant. My life will work in either case…as will yours.
So the next time you are facing a goal, or action, that elicits some level of fear, be mindful of the 5 truths and Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway!