The Root of Fear

Two weeks ago, I was asked if I wanted to be featured in a local magazine as a #BossBabe / role model. (Don’t worry, I was just as confused why they picked me too.) They asked me to answer one question: What’s the best advice you have for someone who is facing a challenge that they feel is insurmountable?

                After a year full of challenges, reading this question caused me to literally laugh to myself because it felt like the universe had smacked me in the face with it. The question prompted a lot of self-reflection, and I literally took two full days to even answer. I pondered my own journey and my own choices. And to reply to this question, this was the best I could do:

When something seems overwhelming and impossible, I think that the best thing to do is trust yourself and to let go of the fear of the challenge. I don’t think God (or the universe depending on what you believe) puts challenges in our way that we are not capable of facing and that we were given the innate tools to overcome them. Usually what gets in the way is the fear associated with the challenge – the fear of failing, the fear of making mistakes, or not being able to move past the failure. We forget that even if we fail that the sting of failure is temporary and that we are resilient; in fact, the only real failure is being paralyzed by our fear or not learning from the mistakes that we make. If we can learn to trust ourselves and let go of the fear, we can embrace the challenges both in the victory and defeat.

Our perception of what we feel is impossible is fixed in fear, and fear is a tricky emotion. While sometimes fear may act as a great motivator, more often than not I have seen it been used as a shield “to not” – to not deal, to not confront, to not let go of what is hurting us, and to not grow. Fear paralyzes; fear controls; fear causes us to feel shame; fear causes us to lash out in anger; fear hold us back from moving forward. But where does this fear come from and why do we get so paralyzed by it?

The scariest thing about fear, ironically, is not the thing we believe terrifies us the most but that it is so deeply entrenched into the essence of who we are because fear is rooted in our expectations.  In our expectations, we have associated the worst possible outcome to what scares us; whether it is flying or spiders or failure, we expect doom. But there is power in knowing that fear comes from our own expectations. If we can manage our expectations, we are able to test our realities and realize the things that terrify us aren’t actually that scary. In managing our expectations, we can confront fear, and even if the confrontation of terror results in pain, often that pain is temporary; lessons are learned; we grow. Human beings are a resilient species.

So what are you afraid of?

Ready. Set. Let it go.

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