I'll never forget the feeling of standing in line. I knew what was coming. The feeling of sudden doom was upon me. There was no way I was going to get out of this. My parents and best friend were in the line too... They all seemed so excited. Didn't they know that we were literally standing in line to meet our end? That this was in fact the last line we would ever stand in? By the sense of joy on their faces they must not have known... Oh, but I did, and I showed it. Tears streamed down my face, I shook with utter terror and tried to think of everything I could to get us out of this situation. By the time we reached the front of the line I was a complete mess. Actually full-on whaling at this point, snot bubbles and all –10 year old Jason wasn't going down without a fight. Finally, strapped in the car, we started up the hill... click, click, click, click, click, click...... This was the last sound I'd ever hear, I was sure of it. A silence came over me as we crest the top... then screaming... so. much. screaming. The entire ride only lasted about a minute, but it felt much longer. When the car came to a screeching halt at the end, everyone began to clap. I sat there, silent, catching my breath. My best friend looked over at me with a huge smile on his face and said, "well, what did you think? Not that bad, huh?" I started to grin and said "think we can do it again?"
Fear is such a crazy thing. Like a deer in headlights, it can make you parallelized and keep you from your purpose. Fear is our natural reaction to the unknown. It's our mind's way of keeping us safe. When there are too many variables to determine a for-sure outcome, fear creeps in to guarantee that we don't even go there. While this, in some rare cases, actually can protect us, more times than not, fear keeps us from experiencing the greatest things in life. If we recognize this, then we can actually start to take hold of the reigns and push past the fear to wonderful things.
You'll never know everything.
This is where it starts. The moment that fear or anxiety hits you, it's always because there's a since of the unknown. A place where you can't get a for-sure answer on what is going to happen. It could be anything: a meeting with the boss that you weren't expecting, a call from a loved one saying they have come ill, a financial crisis that you weren't expecting or even climbing on a roller coaster for the first time. No matter what it is, this is where fear starts.
Many of us have heard a portion of the following quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt during his first inauguration address to the nation in 1933:
"This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."
Let me take a second to help you here... It's a fact that you'll never know it all. According to FDR in this statement, the feeling of relief you get when you choose to not do whatever it is that you are afraid to do is not a step forward or an advancement, it's a retreat.
In general we should try our best to narrow down the variables as much as possible to be able to get a better grip on the actual possibilities, but in the end, you won't know until you do. Doing whatever it is that you're afraid of is the sure-fire way to know what the outcome is –good or bad. So, step number one in overcoming fear, is realizing and getting over the fact that you'll never know it all.
The second time I rode a roller coaster that day, I wanted to cry, but I didn't. I still was shaking a lot, I didn't say much while I was in line. I kept stoking myself up and reassuring myself that everything was going to be okay –and guess what? It was. I had a great time again and again. However, Even still today as a full-grown adult, I still get a little nervous when I'm standing in line for a roller coaster. The difference is, I expect it.
Any time I've had the opportunity to speak in front of crowds, I feel the same way. My palms get a little bit sweaty, I get cold chills, and many times I get this pit in my stomach. But I know, that once I get out there and start talking, All of that goes away.
This, of course, is only going to come from good old fashioned experience. The more roller coasters you ride, the more you know you're going to be okay. The more you speak, you know the moment when you're going to be good to go. So, step two in overcoming fear is, well, learning to expect fear.
fear is a good thing.
There may be times in your life where fear is legit. Fear has this funny way of keeping us alive. However, for the most part, things that we are afraid of, we only are because of our lack of knowledge of the outcome. For many of these things, it's a good idea to have a healthy fear and respect for them. Be afraid of speaking –because what you say matters. Be afraid of flying –because it's a miracle that we have the ability to travel so high and so fast to begin with. Be afraid of sickness in those you love –it makes you appreciate the health that much more. Be afraid of riding roller coasters –it makes it that much more fun when you're done.
What's funny about fear is, if we are being honest, is it's a control thing. The reason why we are afraid is because we can't control the outcome. Well here's how you get the one-up on fear... Don't let IT control YOU. If you already know that you are going to be afraid, and there is no way to know the outcome of whatever it is, then be okay with that. Settle in and buckle up. Close your eyes and give it to God. If there is nothing you can do, the one thing you CAN do is not let fear have the reigns of your life. Be free.
Until next time,