I am a big believer that every emotion has its purpose. For example, I believe that fear comes to us in moments where we may want to consider taking pause to re-evaluate a situation. To me though, it doesn’t mean halt! It may actually serve as motivation for me to proceed ahead, go beyond my comfort zone, and stretch into new areas.
So, lets explore this a bit. What is the purpose of fear? Fear is our body’s way of telling us, “hey this is new territory, let’s take a moment and evaluate the situation.” It’s in these moments that we evaluate if the return is worth the “cost” of the situation. If the cost is too high in comparison to the reward, the opportunity may be a showstopper. If the cost is high (or low) but the reward is great, we may actually not only proceed but use that fear as motivation to push ourselves towards the opportunity.
All of us have our own boundaries and comfort zones. For me, in some ways, I used to really live my life by my fears. In other words, if I felt that fear emotion coming on, I not only paused, I halted. And… then I missed out. I missed out on new opportunities, adrenaline rushes, and shared experiences.
As I got older and the list of what I had missed out on grew, I decided this was not the life for me. I was going to venture beyond my comfort zone, no matter how uncomfortable it was and just go for it. I was going to try new adventures (aerial obstacles courses despite my fear of heights!), try new things (learning to bet at the horse races – lesson learned: you win some and you lose some but learning how to do it is half the fun!), and speak up (advocate for myself!) when I otherwise would have stayed silent.
Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t go hog-wild with my decision to not let fear dictate my life anymore. While I’ve greatly minimized the number of fears I have in my life that I let stop me in my tracks, I still have a decent number. Perhaps a more “average” number now though. After all, fear comes to us for a reason. Sometimes we experience fear because we are approaching something that we really have reason to take caution from.
For example, I still fear the rollercoasters that are at Disneyland. While it may not be rational (thousands ride it safely daily) for most, for me it’s completely rational. I quickly get motion sickness on the tamest of rides. That motion sickness pervades how I feel for the entire day. If you’ve ever had it, you know what I mean. So, in this case, this is a fear that I feel is justified. I know what will happen if I do it, I definitely don’t want to get sick, and so I let my fear of that stop me from going on any roller coasters.
Overall, I think it’s all a bit of a balancing act of what is the “cost” of the fear and are we willing to pay that price. Even if the cost is high, maybe we still feel it’s worth going for. The take-away is just that good. In these cases, sometimes we are able to use fear to spur us on, to be our motivator to go for it. I know that many times for me the end result is a huge adrenaline rush!
If you feel you are living with “too many” fears, something that is completely self-determined, I encourage you to consider taking some baby steps on the side of fear. The kind of fear that you feel is safe and has great take-aways. You may just find that the more steps you take, the more steps you want to take!