Fear is the number one fact of life that stumps us from achieving the life we want. It’s not ability or potential. It’s not talent or skill. It’s fear of the unknown that stops us dead in our tracks. Fear of not being enough. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of being unworthy or unqualified. Fear of missed opportunities. Fear of making the wrong choices. Fear in itself doesn’t contain any wisdom. It’s a imagination of a future. Completely made up. Yet is has information that can tell us about how we’ve lived. And if we can look at it as information, instead of some kind of determinism of our life, then we can decide what to do with it.
Embracing Play in the Moment
“There is a seriousness in the play of children, but even this is different, for the child is aware that it is only playing and its seriousness is an indirect form of fun. But this seriousness becomes a vice in the adult, because he makes a religion of the game, so identifying himself with his part or position in life that he fears to lose it.” – Alan Watts from Lightness of Touch
It’s unfortunate that we’ve become so conditioned to fear so much. In our interactions and expectations with our parents, teachers, coaches, siblings and friends, we’re taught over and over again of how important it is not to fail. So we study hard, learn new skills, weigh the pros and cons in effort to never make a mistake. Behind the scenes we learn that we’re not good enough and never trust yourself. As a consequence, we lose a sense of play, wonder and excitement that we were born with as children.
Overcome the Trap of Fear
Most of us are accustomed to the saying, “Analysis by paralysis.” When we find ourselves in the state of fear, we tend (over) analyze everything. As if this would bring about some kind of eureka moment that would prove the fear was right.
“What went wrong?”
“Who’s fault is it?”
“Why did they give me that job?”
“Why do they expect so much from me?”
“Why can’t I do this?”
However, if we can look at fear as being a state of mind, we can see fear as a tiny bit of information. That if looked at objectively, from an arms length approach, we may learn something about ourselves.
- Write down the fear that you’re experiencing. I love journals to write down such things.
- See it for what it is. Words on a page that describe some kind of unknown thing.
- Remind yourself of who you are and what it is you’re truly on about.
- Be grateful for this humbling experience, because we all have fears.
- Then close your book or turn the page and simply move on.
- Bring yourself back to a sense of serious play into your work.
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