Fear. A four-letter word with a demanding connotation, yet a very simple definition— according to the dictionary.
Fear is defined as, “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat.” Yup, an emotion caused by an externality.
So, if it sounds so simple and matter of factly, what causes it to have such direct control over our lives?
We let it.
Like most things in life, we have the power to decide what we want to do about them. Yet, it can become so incredibly easy to let all different types of externalities take control of our mind, our spirit, and eventually our life.
And to tell you the truth, it's not worth it. Why should other people or situations so heavily influence or limit us, from being who we are and doing the things we want to do when we can just say, “Screw this ‘unpleasant emotion’—I’m going for it.”
Well my friend, although feeling fired up and ready to go for it is totally crucial to overcoming our fears we must first, be able to call them by their name.
Sucks to admit it, I know. But in honor of keeping it real, we have to. We are all afraid of rejection, no matter what it may look like. Whether it’s going for that job and not getting that call you hope for, or applying for that program and getting that letter that leads with “We regret to inform you…” or the one that can sting the most—getting rejected by others.
Whether we experience rejection by way of situations or other people, in the end, they are all in the same, letdowns. Rejection can lead to insecurity, shyness, or simply fear of being judged for who we are and the things that we believe in.
Fear of rejection can truly hinder us because sometimes we will do anything and everything to not have to feel this “pain-inducing emotion”. Which leads us to another type of fear…
Going for something and have it not work out in the way in which we had hoped–sucks. The thing is, that “sucky” feeling can usually linger and overflow into other crevices of ourselves.
Lack of confidence, questioning of self-worth, or a newfound doubt in our abilities that weren’t there before whatever failed attempt, is now what may fuel that pesky sense of fear and keeps us from going for things we would have totally been down for in the past.
Instead, we can become over thinkers, as to find comfort in the possibility of achievement rather than actually taking the steps to get there. We can get stuck in a rut, or in our to-do list for whatever goal it might belong to. Worst of all, we can leave it all for tomorrow and then the next day, which will only lead to the day after that.
Shielding ourselves from the possibility of that maybe/somehow/what if it doesn’t actually work out, is not just a comfort zone rather, it can become a safety zone that is immensely hard to get out of once we are there. Why?
Because ironically enough, the biggest fear of all is…
Yup. The ultimate and yet most enabling type of fear there is. So, you know when you go on a trip or something amazing happens, or you experience something that fills you with joy and happiness and the most positive of vibes?
Besides whatever tangible memory any of these things may leave you with, they leave you with a feeling. Let us illustrate with words of wisdom from writer, poet, activist, and all-around amazing Maya Angelou,
At the end of the day people won't remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.
See, this same concept applies to experience, whether good or bad. Alright, let’s tie it back.
Whatever we have experienced, whether rejection, failure, or a moment where we felt hurt by what someone did or said… that feeling stays with us. More so, they create pathways in our mind and soul that tells us that if we go for it again or put ourselves out there once more, we are only exposing ourselves to that threat of fear yet again.
The fear of fear itself is something that we must identify, confront, and overcome.
Sometimes it may cause a physical reaction like anxiety or panic, and sometimes it can take away our power and force us to live in our turbulent past or even fear our visions for the future. The truth is there is, there is only one way to truly be able to tell any type of fear to get lost. We must stop being afraid of being ourselves. Let me explain.
All these fears we just identified: rejection, failure, fear of fear itself… they all just boil down to one fear if we really pause and think about it: the fear of being our authentic selves.
Q: So what if we got rejected from that opportunity or relationship?
A: It really only serves as redirection to what truly is meant for us.
Q: So what if we failed?
A: We get ourselves back up and try it in a different way.
Q: So what if we have traumatic experiences?
A: We take the time to look deep within ourselves and identify our strengths.
Most of all, we must remind ourselves that we are not who we once were, nor who we are meant to be yet… it’s a work in progress.
To finally be able to overcome our fears, we must look within and know that we got this! To quote another wise woman, and one I’m blessed to call mine — my mom,
Solo es difícil porque nunca lo ha hecho. Pero cuando lo haga una vez, las demas no seran nada.
It only seems difficult because you’ve never done it. But once you go for it the first time, the rest won’t seem like a big deal.
I love this so much because not only is it like, “Yeah, you can do this just get over that first hurdle” more than that, it serves as a reminder that it's a continuous challenge we will continue to overcome.
It’s part of life and of our never-ending evolution as people.
The key thing to remember is that no matter what comes our way, no matter what let down, hurtful comment, or “what if moment”... we mustn't be afraid.
Instead, we must take a deep breath, hold our head high, and say to ourselves, “I’ve done this before and will do it again.”
So, are you ready to commit to the ongoing journey of overcoming these and heading towards the next best version of you?
You've got this.
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"There is no greater illusion than fear."