Don’t be Afraid of Fear

by Melody Jean

contemporaryseekerfearWhile browsing around this morning I happened upon this Ralph Waldo Emerson quote which stopped me in my tracks. It found its way to that part deep inside of me. The place that leads me to share it with all of you. The quote:

“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little coarse and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice? Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble.”

Fear: Both Good and Bad

Emerson uttered these words in the 19th Century. These words sound so complex, yet the meaning really is quite simple. Most people are road-blocked by fear. Fear of failure, ridicule, success, not knowing, embarrassment, and a plethora of other reasons. As a result they sit in the same place. In a safe place so to speak, or that which they know. My father always says that fear isn’t all bad because it’s that ‘thing’ that makes us go to work in the morning (fear of not being able to pay bills, eat, provide for our family). Yet, it’s when it’s all consuming, or stops you from progressing that you need to reel it back in, and own it, in a sense.

Fearing New Opportunity

A good example to illustrate this point is an interchange I had with my dad when a recruiter called to invite me to apply for a job at a competing organization. When I hung up the phone, having yet to decide whether or not I would actually submit myself as a candidate, I automatically started thinking of all of the reasons that I shouldn’t apply. I thought wow, I can’t apply because I’d have to physically move my life; prove myself to a new boss and colleagues again; manage the stress that comes with a new job; risk failing; and navigate my way through many other obstacles. When I shared my thoughts with my dad he said to me something that I replay time and again which I will paraphrase here. He remarked, “Do you want to know the great thing about this, Mel? You don’t have to decide if you want the job now because you weren’t offered it yet. And you may never be! Of course if you don’t apply you will never know if in fact you would have had the chance to make this decision. When you are offered the spot, then you will have a decision to make. In the meantime, pondering all of the reasons not to apply is wasted energy. Go through the process, it will be good for you, and you might learn something.”

… And I did. The irony in all of this was that I was misconstruing one little word apply with accept. Just because I was going to apply didn’t mean I had to accept the job … ever. Even if offered. Plain and simple, I didn’t have to accept. And with this came a great sense of relief – so apply I did. Offered it I was. Accept I DID.

Yet, I almost let that ugly little demon, fear, stop me from even having a chance. This entity that rears its ugly head in all of our lives had the potential to block me from advancing, not just in my career, but in life. Becoming a better human being in fact. So time and again, when I am hesitant of “jumping off,” so to speak, I come back to this point that my father made. I usually recognize that I am scared and fear is taking up space in my head. You see my dad could have said what he did, to anybody. However, anybody is not me. He knew that I’d get the message, and that I did. Many “jumps” in my life can be traced back to this one simple conversation. This is a great example of the awesome power of words.

If You Tumble You Will Survive

If we further examine Emerson’s quote above and explore what happens when you try something and well, it doesn’t go according plan? Man-oh-man has this happened to me, haha! Time and again, in fact. And mostly because I do “jump off” into the unknown because of my father’s words of wisdom shared above. I even moved my entire life and co-purchased a house, with a man, who I thought I would spend my life with. And well, here I sit over two years later in a completely different place than I ever imagined because I took that chance. I’ll have you know though that because I made those decisions, and because I survived, I am more than okay with how things transpired. As a result of all of my triumphs and pitfalls I realize that as Emerson said, I’m not afraid to tumble. In many things you can’t gain without risking losing. We all fear losing, but you lose more if you allow fear to run you, ruin you.

So I share these thoughts with all of you, today, because I want you to disarm your fears. I want you to live. I want you to try new experiences. I want you to “jump off” into the unknown. I promise that if you slip and fall, get bumped and bruised, you will survive. And with survival comes an awesome sense of strength and renewed ability to handle what comes your way.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael

There is a wonderful book called Positive Illusions that illustrates this point. People who have good opinions of themselves (even those with bloated egos) put themselves in positions that permit good things to happen. Gotta be in it to win it. Down with negative thinking!

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Melody Jean

Hi Mike, I’ll check it out (and CS readers should too!). The more food for thought that I soak up is what helps to keep my juices flowing. Thanks for the recommendation. I agree too “you gotta be in it, to win it” and with that “no risk, no gain.” Thanks again!

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