One of the biggest obstacles you will need to overcome to become the person
you want to become and live the life of your dreams is FEAR!
For most of my life, I have lived with and been influenced by fear. Some were subtle forms of fear, like being shy and not asking out the girl I had a crush on, and others were major forms of fear, like the fear of speaking in front of an audience. Fear has manifested itself in many ways in my life. The fear that I wasn’t good enough. The fear that I would someday be cast aside and abandoned. The fear that if you knew who I truly was, or if I was not who I thought you wanted me to be, that you would reject me. The fear that I was stuck in my current career and wasn’t good enough to do anything else. The fear that my employer would finally figure out that they didn’t need me and that I’m not as good as they thought I was. The fear that the wonderful life I had built would be taken away from me. The fear that I would one day be alone. The fear that I would fail as a father and let my children down. There was this fear of either losing something I thought I needed to feel happy and safe or not receiving something that I thought I needed to feel happy and safe. Not that I didn’t experience any good moments, because I have lived a life full of blessings. But there was always this underlying feeling of insecurity that kept me in a constant state of needing to be in control while never truly feeling like I was. To one degree or another, fear has decreased the quality of every area of my life.
By working the program I describe in my book, Your Power to Change, I overcame my fears and replaced them with peace, joy, serenity, hope, confidence, faith, humility, and gratitude. Becoming aware of my fears and how they were manifesting in my life was a game-changer for me, and I know it will be for you as well.
One of the biggest obstacles you will need to overcome to become the person you want to become and live the life of your dreams is fear. One of the main things holding you back is not some uncontrollable external force or circumstance; it is your fears and limiting beliefs that have been holding you back on your journey. To become the master of yourself and become the master of your life, you must first learn to master your fears. In this book, you will learn many techniques that will help you to not only master fear but live a life without fear.
All fears are, to one degree or another, a perceived threat to our survival. When we are in survival mode, our subconscious mind exerts its unfathomable power into keeping us safe no matter what. Everything else is secondary, including our happiness and success in life. The more fear we eliminate from our lives, the more we can focus the power of our subconscious mind on our happiness and success. The less we need to survive, the more we can thrive.
Most types of fear and almost all the fears that hold us back in life are not real. That they are a figment of our overprotective imagination. That fear stands for “False Evidence Appearing Real.” It is my hope that the program that improved my life will arm you with the belief that fear is something that you can control and overcome.
To overcome fear, you will need to learn the truth about fear; to see what fear is, where it comes from, the different types of fear, and the purpose of each type of fear. As your understanding and awareness of fear increases, so will your ability to control it and overcome it.
With all that said, fear is a good thing. The only reason we are here today as a species, and have evolved to our current state of being, is a healthy sense of fear. Without fear, we would not have survived. The lions, tigers, and bears would have eaten us. I know this sounds pretty funny now, but this was a very common and real danger in our not-so-distant past. This fear is often called instinctual fear or primal fear. These fears are made to protect and ensure the three prime instincts: the survival instinct, the sex instinct, and the social instinct. These are paired with three prime fears: the fear of death, the fear of oblivion of self and species, and the fear of being cast out of the tribe, which would make it harder to procreate and survive. A list could be made that is much larger and more complicated than this. Fear can manifest itself in many ways. You do not need to understand them all to take control of and overcome your fear. Fears are based on perceived and often misperceived potential threats to these three prime instincts.
To overcome your fears, you need to first recognize them and how they have been and are manifesting in your life. Once you get better at recognizing your fears, you will begin to trace those fears back to the thoughts or events that triggered them. When you become aware of and understand what is triggering your fears, you can respond how you want to, instead of reacting in a fearful way.
All fear starts with a conscious or subconscious trigger. The effect of this fear manifests in many ways. The easiest to recognize is the emotional or physiological response. The physiological responses involved with fear are just fast, condensed, powerful, biological programs. They evolved to create the fastest, most effective responses to potentially life-threatening conditions. They are only in us now because our ancestors used them effectively to not get eaten by a lion, tiger, or bear. They survived, procreated, and they passed these programs along to us.
Think about it: one million years ago, we were not at the top of the food chain as we are today. The reality of being eaten by a predator was very real. For instance, in going about our business in the forest, we might hear rustling in the bushes. Now, if we chose to pause, take in all the variables, weigh any responses versus past situations, and then choose to act, we would have surely been eaten. The emotional response of fear, that powerful complex biological reaction, happens faster than we can think. It happens at a subconscious level. Before we know it or have time to consider what is happening, we are doing whatever we can do to get out of harm’s way, safe and alive to see another day. This reaction is called the fight/flight/freeze response. It prepares your body to fight, flee, or hide by increasing adrenaline and cortisol, raising your heart rate and breathing rate, and taking blood away from the skin and moving it to the muscles, heart, and mind. It allows us to jump higher into a tree, run faster and longer, burrow under something heavy, and causes our perception of pain to decrease. Survival is priority number one. All other considerations become secondary.
So, this response has kept us alive and served us well thus far, though the threat of being eaten by a predator is obviously not a realistic threat anymore in the daily lives of the average human being. Yet when we perceive something as a threat, be it to our life, our standing in society, or our standing in a relationship, we react with this fear response to one degree or another. We go one step further by creating a fear response by merely imagining situations that might be a threat. When we are in a state of fear, we stop thinking about what we want, what makes us happy, and how we want to act, and we think about staying safe and surviving. This is how our instinct to survive has been limiting our ability to thrive.
The other kind of fear, psychological fear, is the one stopping us from reaching our full potential and living the life of our dreams. Your dreams, your aspirations, your vision for yourself and your life, all lie on the other side of this fear.
Understanding why we have psychological fear and becoming aware of its positive intentions will allow us to gain control over it, find alternatives to it, and overcome it. Understanding that psychological fear is not real will allow us to summon the courage to step out in faith and walk through our fears.
Psychological fear, or imagined fear, is just that: imagined. It lives in a future that hasn’t happened yet and may never happen. Psychological fear happens when we imagine a future event and the different ways it might not end well for us.
Take something like the fear of public speaking, which holds a lot of us back. I know a lot about this because I had to walk through the fear of public speaking in my life. A conversation with oneself might go something like this:
“I know the importance of this presentation. I am prepared, and I know that it will open up many doors for me if I do well. But what if they don’t like what I have to say? What if they don’t like me? What if I freeze up and they realize I’m not qualified to have this job?
What if I screw up badly enough and it costs me my job? I’ll lose my home, and my
wife will leave me, and I’ll be left all alone to survive in a cold, scary world.
If I get cast out, the lions, tigers, and bears will surely eat me.”
I know this sounds absurd, but we actually do this. To one degree or another, depending on the mental makeup of the individual, we consciously and unconsciously believe that these potential dangers will ultimately threaten our survival, sex, or social instinct. Because these three prime instincts are perceived as being threatened, our fight/flight/flee response is activated to protect us from this perceived potential danger. We get anxious. We can’t think straight. We want to run and hide. In this state it’s almost impossible to give a decent, well-thought-out presentation.
Another example of psychological fear is the fear of change. A conversation with oneself might sound something like this:
“I really don’t like my job anymore. I have outgrown it and feel unfulfilled. I want to do something different. I have a dream that I would like to go after. I have a gift I would like to share with the world. But what happens if my dream doesn’t pan out? At least my current job is paying my bills, keeping a roof over my head, and feeding me. If I decide to change what
I do then I might not be able to pay my bills. I might not be able to keep a roof over my head. What would my friends and family think? What would people down at the social club think?
I would be such a loser. They would surely abandon me. I would be left alone in this
scary world, homeless and destitute. I better just settle for the job that I have.
Sure, it sucks and I hate it, but at least I am safe and secure and alive.”
Again, this sounds a bit of a stretch, but this is the process many of us have actually gone through. Fear of change manifests as “good is the enemy of great,” which also would translate to “Okay is the enemy of good,” and “merely surviving is the enemy of okay.” “Better the devil you know than the devil you do not know.” These sayings are based on the fear that the unknown future will be worse than anything we are experiencing now. That if I change, it may make matters worse. It is a belief we have that “No matter how good or bad my life is, I am still alive, and it hasn’t killed me yet.” The fear of change hinders our growth, keeps us stuck, makes us accept bad situations, and causes much suffering and pain. It is a human tendency to seek routine. To seek predictability. To control the variables to ensure our safety and security. Too often, the walls we build to protect ourselves become a prison.
One more example of psychological fear, of which there are many, is the fear of being alone. A conversation with oneself might go something like this:
“I really don’t like where this relationship is going. I don’t like the way he treats me, and I am no longer happy. I need to make a change, but then I would be alone. What if I don’t meet someone for a very long time, or at all for that matter? What if this relationship is the best that I can hope for? Maybe I’m not good enough or don’t deserve a better relationship.
If I leave him, I will have to change where I live. What if I can’t find a good place to live?
There are so many unknowns. I don’t want to be alone. Maybe I should just suck it up
and make the best out of a bad situation. At least I can say that I have someone.
Alone I am weak and vulnerable. I better just be grateful for what I have.”
So many people succumb to their fear of change and many other subtler manifestations of this fear. They live a life of quiet desperation, as opposed to the unknown outcome of change.
We project the worst-case scenario on our future.
We decide not to change.
We give in.
We give up.
This kind of fear will prevent you from taking that all-important first step towards living your dream. I hope you understand that imagined fear is one of the main obstacles you will overcome on your path to becoming the person you want to become and living the life you want to live.
Fear, being imaginary and unreal, has a hard time standing up to any scrutiny. Like a dark room, it cannot withstand you turning on the light.
May you become the person you want and deserve to be,