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Always do what you are afraid to do. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fear a tricky human emotion. It can paralyze. It can prevent you from attaining your dreams. It can keep you small. But fear can be your friend in just the right doses.

My friend explained to me how he recently harnessed his fear to confront a difficult situation. After relapsing, he had to return to his workplace and inform his colleagues what he had done, and confront the wreckage he had caused. He pondered running, hiding. Instead, he gathered up his fear, and took it with him to work. His knees grew weak and his stomach turned, but his resolve remained unshaken.

Fear tells us we are in danger. But oftentimes it is an imagined danger, not a real one. After meeting with his colleagues, my friend’s fear dissolved and he realized it was a lot easier to have that conversation than we thought. He feared ridicule and rejection, but was met with acceptance and appreciation for having come clean. He was on his way to an amends.

We often think things are going to turn out disastrous, and then we’re pleasantly surprised when they don’t.

The stress we experience in these fearful moments is entirely subjective. Stress is induced by our thoughts about what is happening, not the event itself. It is our thinking behind it that does. Stress is fear-based. We worry that things won’t work out and are confronted with that primitive dilemma of facing our fear or running away from it: fight or flight.

I prefer to fight. It may sound counterintuitive, but love your fear—that’s all it needs. Running from it allows it to grow. Fear really wants our best, however irrational it sometimes seems. Fear, at the right doses, can certainly be good. In walking through it, we most often discover that the degree of our fear is out of sync with reality.