Fear is a bi-polar condition. It hinders and propels, destroys and protects, renders us weak and makes us strong, often at the same time. We fear what we are about to lose and what we are about to gain. It paralyzes and frees us. Fear can play us like a human accordion.
There have been times when we were afraid to cross the street, raise our hand in class, speak up for ourselves or for our communities, or sing at the top of our lungs. We all experience fear. It’s an unavoidable part of being human. But how do we keep it from inhibiting us? I suggest doing what I call, a “brain shift.” Instead of resisting fear, embrace it as the gift that it can be: an accelerant to your dreams, hopes, ambitions, and actions.
For example, a roller-coaster ride is often used as a metaphor for life, with its ups, downs, twists and turns, we are drawn to it, yet fearful of what lies on the tracks ahead, or of the worst case scenario– whatever that may be.
But if we do a “brain shift,” and begin to think about that roller coaster ride from a different perspective, something changes. Consider the combination of fear and excitement that overcomes you at the very moment that the roller coaster car stops and you are next in line. The attendant opens the gate, raises the harness, ushers you in and locks you down. Think about the adrenaline-pumping mixture of feelings that grips you as the ride begins to ascend before taking you on the most thrilling, free-falling, ride of your life.
Fear was certainly a huge part of that experience, but so were the feelings of excitement and of being thrilled, and the realization that you lived through a dead-drop from 400-feet high. Tell the truth: it was exhilarating!
The artist, Georgia O’Keeffe said it best, “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do.” That’s the positive power of fear: you were scared to ride that roller coaster, but you did it anyway! And guess what? You might very well get back on the end of that line and do it again. Fear can be the motivational speaker to our souls. Mix it with sense of purpose and a pinch of excitement and see what happens.