Why Fear is a Good Thing!

Are you someone that looks 'fear' in the eye and charges right past, or do you tend to give into your fears and hold back?  If you're the former, go you! If you're the latter, then I would like to sit down and have a little chat with you,  ok?  You probably think 'fear' is bad, but it's not!  Today, I'm telling you exactly why fear is a good thing and how you can better respond to it to start chasing your dreams!

We all know the feeling…stomach dropping, heart pounding, stopping in our tracks...it's FEAR.  

Our natural instinct is to protect ourselves and back away. 

And that's a good thing! 

That is, unless we're backing away from something that could improve our lives and by letting fear take over, we end up stuck in a holding pattern where we're not happy.

I've talked about fear in the past and it's still a topic that I think needs more attention. 

Recently, someone I respect very much described me as 'fearless'.  When I shockingly told this to another friend, she quickly affirmed that saying 'you are fearless'.  My jaw dropped and I was like 'seriously??'.  I had never really thought about whether I was a 'fearless' person, but now that they mention it, yeah, I guess they're right!

With that said, I'm not absent of fear.  Believe, I have plenty of fear.  I just try not to let fear stop me.  If that makes people think I'm 'fearless', then alrighty!  I don't really care about labels so much, but it is flattering to think that others might see me this way and it got me thinking {a lot} about this topic.

What's the deal with Fear?

Most people fear fear.  I get it, it’s not exactly a walk in the park to be afraid of something, but over the years, I guess I've just learned to embrace fear and not be afraid of it.  Sometimes it was because I had to and other times, simply because I really wanted something.

But here's the thing... fear is just a feeling .  It's not necessarily the reality (unless you're getting chased by a lion...in that case, girlfriend, yes, your fear is very real!).  Usually what we fear is so much worse than reality!  We let things we're essentially making up, control our actions, and ultimately limit our growth and life experiences.

There's even research to back this up!  Researchers at the University of Cincinnati found that 85% of our fears never happen.  So, we're letting the fear of something that probably won't happen keep us from going for what we want!  And those 15% of cases where our fears do happen...the researchers found that almost 80% of people felt they handled it better than they expected and the outcome wasn't actually as bad as they feared.

Taking all of this in, if you think about it from a different perspective, fear is actually a good thing!

Stick with me here, okay?  This will all make sense in a minute, I promise! :)

When I think about fear, I see essentially 2 types:

  • Fear based on danger
  • Fear based on insecurities

Fear based on danger is obviously a good thing, right?  It alerts you to something that may harm you (like that lion!) so you can get out of the way and protect yourself.  

That reaction is a natural and primal instinct to retreat in the face of fear. As we grow up, we sometimes don’t learn respond to the two types of fear differently and that’s a problem.

If what we're afraid of isn't something dangerous and is only something we feel insecure or unsure about, we're missing out on amazing opportunities.  We become our own worst enemy!

We get stuck in a safe, unmoving bubble because it’s easier.

Why are we letting fear make our decisions for us?!   

Fear should not get a say in our decisions !

Facing one of my fears

Last year, I heard about an awesome photography conference for women that was being held in Salt Lake City.  I'm not a stranger to traveling and I traveled all over by myself for work for years.  So, I have no fear of hopping on a plane and going off somewhere on my own.  With that said, I've only traveled on my own when going for work or, let's say, to a friend's out of town wedding.  In both cases, I had somewhere to be and people to meet up with.

I had never taken it upon myself to go to something like this completely on my own where I didn't know a single person.  At first, I had a healthy dose of fear of having to network and mingle without a wing-girl.  But, I SO wanted to go, so I finally said 'screw it', registered, booked my flight, and reserved my hotel room in a matter of days.  

What was my initial fear?  Looking like a total loser being there by myself (which I now feel like is a totally stupid reason and I'm almost embarrassed to admit it!).

Did that happen?  Nope!  By the time the conference rolled around, I had made some online friends in the photography community and one of those ladies was also going.  We met up and hung out throughout the conference.  So, I wasn't alone after all.  But, you know what...even if I had been, it would've been totally fine.  

I went to the cocktail party and arrived before my friend and had to mingle and walk around solo for about 20 minutes.  It was a tad awkward, but my fear of standing there like a loser was completely unfounded because people came up to me and started talking, or standing in line for a drink, I started talking with others.  So, at no point did I feel like a loser on my own.

Had I given in to my fear initially and stayed home, I would've missed out on an amazing trip and experience because of fears that never came to light.

This year, when the conference was announced for this fall, I didn't even hesitate whipping out my credit card and booking my travels.  My friend that was there last year isn't going this year and I'm not as active in those online communities anymore, so it's much more likely that I will be totally on my own this year.  But, you what, its not bothering me one bit this time!

Thinking about your fears

Now it's your turn...think about a time when you faced a fear and overcame it (even if it was a 'small' one!)…how GOOD did you feel afterwards?  I bet you felt like you had conquered the world!  And you know what?  You DID!

Now, think about a time you gave into fear and retreated from something you wanted to do.  I bet you're sitting there right now, remembering a specific occasion and you're feeling some regret creep in.  Am I right?

Every time you face a fear and you look it in the eye and step right past it, you make yourself stronger and increase your confidence.  

That just makes it that much easier the next time!

How do you kick fear in the ass?

The next time you’re faced with that dreaded feeling that you can’t do something because of XYZ…I want you to ask yourself these questions:

  1. What am I really afraid of? (be honest with yourself here!)
  2. What’s the worst that could happen if I push past this fear?  How likely is that worst case scenario (remember 85% of fears NEVER happen!)?
  3. If the worst case scenario did happen, what are some things I could do to solve the situation? 
  4. Now, imagine the best case scenario...how would it feel to reach this point?   

I’m betting that when you analyze it like this, you’ll realize you have nothing to lose.  You'll see your worst case scenario is a very remote outcome, but by coming up with solutions if faced with it, you've put the control back on yourself and likely reduced the fear.  

Even if you go for it and don’t achieve what you were hoping for, you’ll feel better for at least trying!  If you don’t do it, not only are you guaranteed of not achieving your objective, but you’ll always regret not trying.  

Right now, I want to try to start a business so I can eventually (no time soon!) leave the corporate world behind.  You better bet I have TONS of fears associated with it.  While my worst fear of going after it could happen (it likely won't), you know what I fear even more than that?...NOT going after it and living a life that isn't as satisfying to me as I'd like.  That right there is fueling everything I'm doing to make this happen.

So, can you see how fear is actually a good thing?  If used correctly, it can spur you on to bigger and better things!

What is YOUR fear that is holding you back from achieving a goal or dream?  Are you ready to push through it and make some changes?  Tell me more about it and how I can help!  I'd love to offer any advice if I can!