Today I would like to talk about a topic I think every one of us can relate to.
The dictionary defines fear as: noun 1. an anxiety caused by real or possible danger 2. pain, apprehension, concern
At one time or another we have all experienced the emotion of fear.
There are so many variations of fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of events outside of our control, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of intimacy, fear of people who are different from us, fear of _(fill in the blank)_.
I have found that at it's very core, fear is simply a signal or a call to action. The ultimate purpose of fear is to serve you.
There are two kinds of fear, what I call Stage 1 Fear and Stage 2 Fear.
Stage 1 Fear is very real. It's the fear that calls for immediate action, for example, when your life or safety is in immediate danger. This is an all-consuming fear that intuitively grips your gut, without thinking. For example when you're walking down a dark street and you sense danger. I mean it's very serious and should not be ignored. This fear most definitely serves you.
Stage 2 Fear, on the other hand is a little more mysterious. It surfaces whenever you move outside of your comfort zone or try something you've never done before. For some it is a fear of flying, fear of heights, fear of roller coasters, fear of being married, fear of being divorced, fear of starting a business, fear of starting a new career, fear of learning a new skill, etc.
Becoming aware of the two different kinds of fear allows you to take a step back anytime you feel afraid so that you can evaluate how it can serve you. You can ask yourself, is this stage 1 fear where I need to take immediate action, disengage or change course -or- is this stage 2 fear, where I am simply being faced with the opportunity of moving beyond my comfort zone.
Stage 1 is usually a warning that requires immediate attention, while Stage 2 Fear can actually be an invitation towards something that is ultimately good for you.
Yes, it's true, you can actually feel afraid of something that is GOOD for you. :)
You can be afraid of falling in love, speaking in front of an audience, meeting new people, trying something you have never tried before, starting a business, and so on.
Here is an example.
When I was 13 years old, in the 7th grade, myself and my entire peer group spent our summer days at the park district swimming pool. There were actually 2 pools. A shallow pool for the little ones and a pool that had a graduated depth from 3 feet to 15 feet where the diving boards where.
Swimming pools are fantastic. And being a kid, sun and fun all summer long, what more could you ask for, right?
One tiny little problem. . . at 13 years old, I did not know how to swim.
As all of my friends were swimming away into the deep end, I was left clinging to the side of the pool in the shallow end, terrified to let go.
Now let me be clear. As my friends swam away, I was without a doubt feeling Stage 1 Fear. I had every reason to be afraid. It would not have been wise to follow them into the deep end at that time.
Being in any body of water, not knowing how to swim is dangerous and potentially life threatening. Anything that can end in serious injury or death should not be taken lightly. But there are risks involved in anything worth doing in life. I could have abstained from the activity all together forever, but spending the rest of my life in the kiddie pool was not appealing to me. Forget about the peer pressure, or the other kids making fun of me, I can handle that. But I could not handle missing out on all of the fun they were having. I did not want to go on one more day, not to mention the rest of my life not knowing how to swim.
I was staring in the face of the “Terror Barrier"
More on that later.
But at that moment, I made a decision. I set a Goal and decided I would learn how to swim.
Here is what I did:
Step 1. I asked my friends to swim past me in the shallow end, while I held my nose and went underwater to see what their arms and legs were doing as they swam by. I observed that the arms were doing one thing and the legs were doing another thing and I thought hmmm, maybe I could do this.
Step 2. I went to the lifeguards and asked them to watch me while I held onto the wall, where I proceeded to kick my legs like my friends had done. Interestingly, when I did this I became somewhat buoyant.
Step 3. I let go of the wall and swam a few feet out. Then I swam back to the wall. Imagine my surprise, I was actually doing it, I was SWIMMING!
I don't know if you know how to swim or how you learned, but sometimes the longer you wait, the harder it becomes. Seriously, that imaginary barrier can play tricks with your mind if you don't keep it in check. I went from feeling terrified, wishing I could swim, to deciding I would learn, then taking immediate action to make it reality, all within a few hours.
And by the end of the day, I was swimming in the deep end and about a month later, I was jumping off the diving boards in the deepest part of the pool. In fact, it was not pretty or efficient, but I was swimming good enough to get where I wanted to go.
The purpose of fear is to serve you.
The “Terror Barrier" is an imaginary line.
On one side is you and where you are now.
On the other side is your dream, your Goal.
Most people turn back when they reach the Terror Barrier. They say, “no, I am too afraid, I am frozen, I'm turning back and staying in my comfort zone where I feel safe. " And they never step over the line to find out what they are truly capable of. They can't see beyond the current fright, when what is on the other side is so good.
But. . .
You cannot live your entire life holding on to the edge of the pool.
Some of you are in an illusion that you are in Stage 1 Fear, you are terrified, but you actually in Stage 2 Fear, with the perception of Stage 1. You're at the Terror Barrier.
It's just a matter of going beyond where you are now.
Put your safeguards in place whenever you can, find yourself a mentor or coach and create a plan of action for your Goal and start going after what you want. Whenever possible, model those who went before you.
Now that I understand it, I have run ins with the Terror Barrier on a daily basis. There are constantly new things I want to learn or do that are waaaay outside of my comfort zone. I acknowledge the fear, evaluate the situation and break through it.
Just like when I learned how to swim, it's not always pretty, but it's good enough to get me where I want to go.
Most of the fear and worry people give their energy to is a figment of their imagination. 99% of the worries and anxiety of the world never happen.
Stop wasting energy being paralyzed by fear.
"A ship in port is safe, but that's not what ships are built for. " -Grace Murray Hopper
Allow your fear to serve you.
Think of what dreams of yours have led you to the brink of the Terror Barrier where you turned away? Was this truly a Stage 1 fear or was it Stage 2 (an illusion) ?
Write it down and email it to me if you're ready to break through it and make the dream a reality.
Live Your Dreams
Jill Koenig, the “Goal Guru" is America's Top Goal Strategist. A best selling Author, Coach and Motivational Speaker, she is an expert on the subjects of Goal Setting, Time Management and Business Success. Her Goal in life is to help you UNLEASH your untapped potential. Get your free Goal Setting CD at: http://www.GoalGuru.com