The funny thing about fear is that usually we experience it more when we think about the unknown. We have innumerable “what if’s” run through our minds, consequences of our day-to-day decisions. Some of the decisions we make seem trivial, but have life-changing results. Others are just the opposite. But, in the end, what does it take to overcome fear and face these challenges and changes head-on?
Fear is one of the strongest influences on our daily lives. It can stop us dead in our tracks. It can keep us in relationships that are unhealthy, in jobs that make us unhappy, and essentially force us into a life of mediocrity. We fear so many things: we fear being hurt, we fear our own inadequacy, we fear rejection. But the crazy thing is, there really isn’t that much to be afraid of – it’s all just a mind game we play with ourselves.
Let me give you an example.
Imagine this: you’re living in a city where you have no family and very few friends, and you’re living with a boyfriend who gets drunk too often, then fights with his friends, and is emotionally abusive to you. You have a job that no longer challenges you: there have been cuts, and your contract is set to expire in six months. You sleep more than necessary because after you’ve dealt with all of those things, plus day-to-day tasks like cleaning and making meals, you’re exhausted, both physically and mentally.
Now fast track to eight months later: you’re living in an amazing city – your favorite, in fact – and you just spent the last six months travelling. You’ve got a job that you only dreamed about before. You’re living with one of your best friends since childhood and having an incredible time. And, to boot, you’ve got a new man, who is amazing and treats you so well that sometimes you get suspicious that it’s just too good to be true.
So how do you get from point A to point B? You let go of fear. Let go of the fear that you might not get another job, or that you might not find a good place to live, or that you might not find another boyfriend, or that you might not like it anywhere you live. Letting go of fear is a mental challenge more than anything else. We’re programmed to worry and be afraid – it comes from a primal place where we will do anything to survive. In psychology there is such a thing as the Fight or Flight theory which to sum it up means that some people fight and others freeze; although they are both adapting methods, one encourages progress and the other doesn’t. This primal fight or flight response causes us to see everything and everyone one as a potential enemy. One must choose fight over flight to overcome fear. In this context, fighting means not letting life’s obstacles beat you down. When one dream ends, it means that it is time to dream of something new.
Find a way to let go. I must admit, this process may be easier said than done but it is not impossible and worth every painful moment of self reflection. Some people can do it on their own by analyzing themselves. Others need help and that’s ok too. There are countless methods, from seeing a therapist, a psychologist, meditation, religion to simply speaking to a mentor. The point is that you have to face your fears and truly understand them to be able to let them go. Sometimes letting go takes a long time and quite often it is very depressing but for myself and most other people who have gone through this, in the end you always realize that the fear was mostly in your head to begin with. The key to successfully let go of fear is to face them by using a method that is catered to you. You may need to try numerous things before you find the best technique for you. For example, a good friend of mine discovered art therapy and it realized that it was the best way for her to channel her feelings and thoughts. Her progress has been amazing and in every session she learns something new about herself. Once you face your fears, trust in the process and trust that the only way to live your dream is to follow your heart.
In the end, which is worse: the unknown, or living in misery/mediocrity for the rest of your life? Living is about having more than mediocrity. It’s about following your dreams, living your passion, seeking happiness, and never settling. You’re magnificent and you deserve the best; but first, you have to believe it.
So start the game with yourself. Challenge yourself to stop living in fear. If you catch yourself thinking a fearful though, recognize it, acknowledge it, and then let it go.
You’ll be surprised where your life can go if you’re open to the possibilities. Strange and wonderful things will happen, but only if you let them. You’re in total control.
Stay tune for part 2 of this article for more concrete steps on the pursuit of Happiness.
By Allison Mason