When people think about fear in relation to goals, they think of it as a hindrance to progress; as an obstacle that must be overcome. Sometimes fear is considered an emotion that needs to be suppressed or overlooked altogether. These are, unfortunately, flawed views of fear that can keep us in a vicious cycle of defeat. It doesn’t have to be that way, though.
You can use your fear as an indicator of direction.
In the past, I allowed anything that caused fear in me to direct my path away from that thing. I was scared, y’all, and I ran away from everything! In running away from what I feel God was calling me to do in those moments, I also ran away from my purpose and the direction He was trying to lead me in. I found myself running around in circles, and creating a cycle of busyness and depression that I had convinced myself I didn’t know how to break.
In 2016, I committed to changing my life – to make it more positive, into a life I would want to live. I was just over running around scared. Instead of continuing to allow the fear to overwhelm me, and eventually stop me dead in my tracks (as it had done countless times before), I resolved that anything that came my way that caused that emotion to well up, I would do THAT thing. I really put myself out there and met up with people and joined social groups despite feelings of social anxiety. I fought to be open and genuine while risking severe heartbreak. Going on two years later, I look around me and see the immense positive changes that have occurred in my life – things I was only dreaming of New Year’s 2016.
Do it afraid.
Fear has no power when you act because of it. There are books and motivational speakers up the wazoo who speak to this fact. So, when people say to do it afraid, what does that really mean? For me, doing it afraid means not pushing the fear aside. I don’t pretend that fear is right in my ear, threatening to cripple me. When I feel fear about anything I’m about to do, what helps me is acknowledging that the fear exists. I recognize that it is a very real feeling. With that recognition, there is a sense of peace that comes in. The fear doesn’t evaporate – it’s definitely still there, but so is calm. It’s almost as if I embrace the fact that I’m afraid, and accept it as a natural mental and physical response. With the calm and acceptance comes the knowledge that whatever the outcome, I will live, and life will go on.
Read 2 Timothy 1:7
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” I don’t believe God wants us running away from life’s richest experiences because we are afraid. He wants us to be happy, to feel alive, full, envigored to take on the next big blessing He has in store for us. Sometimes, bigger blessings come with opportunities that are going to scare the pants right off us. If we don’t tackle these fears with the knowledge that through Christ we can do all things, and do it because of the fear, we let fear win.
I want us to win, man.
Consider taking small note of your fear challenges. How did you feel before you did it? Terrified? Like spilling breakfast all over the conference room table? How did you feel while you were doing it? And, what were the feelings that came after it was all over? Recording your process is extremely useful for reflection when the next big challenge comes along. Reading these notes will remind you that these feelings ain’t new. You’ve beaten them before, and you can do it again.
Maybe start with the small fears. Order something new from your favorite restaurant (a pretty big challenge for me, I’ll admit). Or what about that dress you bought weeks or even months ago, but haven’t worn yet because it’s a little bit outside of your wardrobe comfort zone? Start small, stay consistent, and you’ll be slaying your fear dragons and living your best life in no time.
What small fear will you choose to start with?