Rule #35. Overcome your fear.
Way back in Rule 14, I emphasized that courage is a skill that you can learn. I talked about how we can become who we want to be, and that includes becoming more courageous. It may seem like overcome your fear is more of the same advice, and though it is related, this rule is a bit different.
Look at it this way, facing your fear is how you develop courage; Rule 14 is principle, Rule 35 is practice. Remember, facing fear will make you more courageous over time, and overcoming the fear means that you have beaten it. None of this is to say that won’t ever experience that fear again, but once conquered it will never hold the sway over you that it once did.
Facing your fear is difficult, and overcoming it can be even harder. We experience fear for a reason; even irrational fears are based on rational dangers in our evolutionary past. For example, we experience unease in the dark because predators could make easy meals out of us when we couldn’t see. We fear heights because falling poses real risk to life and limb. We should, of course, strive to manage risk (having and executing both a Flight Plan and a Bail Out Plan can help with this), but we can’t do away with it. Nor should we. If we limit ourselves to things of which we are unafraid, to experiences without any danger, we will accomplish very few noteworthy feats.
If I had turned away from everything that scared me, I would have accomplished nothing in my life. Everything worth achieving lies waiting behind a fear. To attain your goal, you have to conquer the fear.
And you can do it.
Defeating fear is empowering. It is liberating. You’ll feel alive. Your heart will beat out of your chest. Your adrenaline will be surging through your bloodstream. You will want to call out a victory cry (and you should do exactly that).
Overcoming fear changes you. Because a fear, once conquered, will never pose as much of a problem again. And having defeated one fear, you’ll realize that you can beat another. And another. Perhaps all of your fears. Conquering a fear is a rite of passage, a spiritual experience (perhaps that’s why I often mistype “scared” as “sacred”).
Don’t misunderstand me and aim to be foolhardy; remember, fear exists for a reason. It’s wise to be afraid of a mother grizzly. Don’t pick up her cub for the sake of facing a fear. Don’t defeat fear for the sake of beating fear, do it because something worthwhile lies behind it.
And no matter what you do you will feel fear again. There will always be things that scare you. If not, you’re not pushing yourself far enough. But don’t perceive this as a negative; each time you’re afraid of whatever is between you and your goal is a chance to stare down your fear, walk into the darkness, and emerge victorious on the other side. Every fear is an opportunity.
So look at your goals, determine if fear is what’s standing in your way. If it is, face it down, conquer it, and feel the sacred rush of victory wash over you. Overcome your fear, and you will be mighty.
“Rules for Intrepid Living” is a weekly post giving guidelines for how we can all live a bit more of an intrepid life.
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