Here’s a secret to mastering your fears

We all face fear. In many ways, fear is one of the most powerful influencers in your life. There’s the healthy kind of fear, like the kind that causes you to duck when you hear a loud bang, or you’re on the golf course, and someone shouts, “FORE!”  Our built-in inclination for survival has given us the gift of fear to help us stay alive and avoid calamity.

But there is a far more insidious and pervasive kind of fear that plagues us all. It shows up in lots of ways – fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of what others will think, fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of loss – and yet each of us who live in this world live with all these things. They are unavoidable. So how do you conquer your fear, or at least not let it keep you from experiencing your highest and best potential?

I recently read a chapter from a book written by a friend of mine, Dave Brisbin. The book is titled Daring to Think Again, and the chapter is aptly titled; “Freefall.” In this chapter, Dave describes in detail the day he went skydiving for the first time. Talk about facing your fears! In the book, Dave shares that you can read about something, listen to the tales of others who’ve experienced it. You can watch videos, learn all the facts, know all about a thing or an experience. But you never really understand it until you do it. So it is with skydiving. So it is with just about anything in life.

Dave’s a good writer, so his words created images in my mind. I could picture myself with him standing in the middle of this gaping hole in the side of this metal tube flying at 12,500 feet above the ground, wind whipping across my face, his fingers white and tightly gripped around the opposing edges of that opening. Right up to that moment, Dave still had a choice. He could go forward or back out. Dave had to make the same decision throughout the day, while driving to the airfield, getting instruction, or signing the legal waivers, and stepping into that metal tube with wings. And as long as he had choices, he felt fear. Which would he choose? What would be the consequences of his choices?

What struck me most in this chapter was this statement; As soon as I let go and left all my choices behind, I wasn’t afraid anymore.”  In an instant, Dave went from fear to exhilaration and being totally in the moment.

As long as we have something to cling to, as long as we have a choice, a decision to make, one that could lead to exhilaration and joy but could also result in calamity, shame, failure, or worse, we will carry fear. Life, like skydiving, is a journey, and adventure and along the path, we have so many decisions to make. You have so many choices. With those decisions, comes fear. So how do you live your life with less fear? Move forward. Let go. Stop clinging to the edge of the doorway. Trust. The truth is, your whole life is a freefall anyway. The safety of that airplane is an illusion. You can do this!

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