Thursday, January 16, 2014

Overcome Your Biggest Fears - Commitment vs Fear Exercise

"The hero is no braver than an ordinary man - but he is brave five minutes longer."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

More than a decade ago (1996-2000 time frame), I was consumed by my fear of things not turning out in my life.  I was hesitant, apprehensive, and worrisome.  I had been telling myself for 5 years that I would make the move from the San Francisco Bay Area to Los Angeles, and hoped I'd run a marathon someday (yes, my first marathon).  I was also in a holding pattern in my romantic relationships.  
One day I woke up sick and tired of being stopped by my fear.  Not long after having these thoughts 9/11/01 happened providing me a defining moment of courage.  Sometime between then and now, many people started relating to me as fearless.  That perception couldn't be further from the truth, as I am as terrified as I always was.
Sometimes fear seems so much bigger than we are.

So, an ostrich walks into a bar...
While I am indeed someone who routinely runs extreme mountain and desert races, I took a 6 year turn as a stand up comic (not that I was ever really funny), married the girl of my dreams after 7 years of trying to convince her I was the guy of her dreams (I guess I'm still trying to convince her), and I willingly get up in front of large groups of strangers to give speeches (check out this awesome USA Today Money article on taming public speaking fears), the one thing that is a constant is that I am still very much afraid.

I fear failing at the things most important to me.  I fear people not liking me.  I fear those not liking me being vocal in their disapproval (the cliche unhappy cool kids at school talking behind your back in a mean spirited way).  I fear trying to inspire people (and having them walk away uninspired).  I fear being judged (harshly).  I fear running 100 miles (and not finishing or worse, walking away not able to run due to injury).  I fear the failure of my relationship.  I fear sadness, due to my past battles with depression.  I have a lot more to lose today than I did in the late 90's and early 2000's.  Being older (maybe wiser) I understand the consequences of my actions (and not following through on things).  I feel the emotional impact of letting people down a lot deeper than before.  My anxiousness and fears have only escalated.


The very serpent that helped me overcome my fear of snakes in 2006.
I turned a corner in my life in late 2000, where I realized that there may be no place where I feel more alive, than when confronting my greatest fears, and when facing my darkest demons. When facing one's fear, there arises a sense of power you can not experience while armchair quarterbacking your favorite reality TV show. When you are out in life doing (rather than thinking about doing) you are experiencing life real time, you are more present, more alive and turned on, plugged in and vital. This, my friends, is what life could be about.  It is what I've made my life about.

It took me years to learn the tough lessons of what ignoring my fear (especially of failure) creates in my life.  I still experience breakthroughs in this area from time to time.  Last Sunday was another example of this for me.  It's interesting how having your life flash before your eyes brings crystal clarity about what's important to you and how precious and fragile life really is.  It can all change in a second.  A single moment can bring us to our knees.


Together 12 years, married for 5 so far!
What fear is presently holding you back? Are you not asking for a promotion? Are you wanting to switch jobs or even careers?  Are you not signing up for your dream race (the one that terrifies you)? Are you not telling a special friend how you really feel about them? Are you not taking calculated risks towards what your soul desires, what you crave to feel fully alive???

**Imagine me shaking you by the shoulders right now, SHAKING YOU VIGOROUSLY**

WAKE UP, MY FRIEND!!! Your life is right now, today, happening this very moment. Why are you wasting it empowering your fears!?!?

I have a little game I remind myself of when I realize I've become complacent.  Sometimes I over think and rationalize my inaction.  It is a simple mental reframing of commitment vs fear.  We are either more committed to what we want to create in life, or we are hiding behind our fear.  It's an either or thing.  There comes an aha moment when you realize that overcoming our fear doesn't mean being fearless, as courage is really defined by acting in the face of our greatest fears.  The larger and deeper the fear runs, the more courageous the act.  We all have more courage than we can possibly imagine.


So, are you going to be committed to your dreams and desires, or will you empower your fears?  The choice seems simple, but only action solidifies that commitment.

"There are those of us who are always about to live. We are waiting until things change, until there is more time, until we are less tired, until we get a promotion, until we settle down / until, until, until. It always seems as if there is some major event that must occur in our lives before we begin living."
-George Sheehan


I invite you to do something today that scares you.  Yes, even that very thing you've been avoiding.  The thing you are hiding out from.  Life is shorter than we relate to it being.  Fear puts the soul to sleep, except when we are facing it.  If you're reading this, I love you. I believe in you.  It will feel really good to no longer be captive to that fear.  Do it.  Come on, you can, I promise you can.

Now go take on some dragons.

Each accomplishment  is merely the starting point of another dream.
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