On the Other Side of Fear

28 Jan

“Everything you have ever really wanted in your life has always been on the other side of fear!”

When I first heard those words, sitting in a seminar audience, it struck me like a ton of bricks. I thought it was the most profound statement I had ever heard. It was so true. Think about it for a moment.

When you were little you wanted to ride a two-wheeler just like your older brother or sister, but when your dad removed the training wheels and you first mounted that unsteady bike, what did you feel? FEAR of course. But the humiliation you would feel if your dad had to put back on those training wheels drove you to overpower any fears you had of falling down and hurting yourself. You got to the other side of your fear.

When you were in grammar school, you or maybe it was your parents, wanted to get you into sports. Youth soccer, T-ball, flag football, maybe even the swimming team. Now you knew that everyone would get on a team, but your fear was how good or bad would you play. If you were good most of that fear would disappear, but if you were like me, several notches below horrible, you would be consumed by fear at every practice and every game. There was never any joy for me. Only the constant voices in my head, yelling “Don’t screw up. Don’t screw up. Don’t drop the ball. Remember who to throw the ball to. Don’t run the wrong way.” Because if I did what would I hear? All the taunts and jeers from my team mates and even a few win-at-all-cost parents. And believe me, those taunts hurt. And, I still remember them today. And maybe in this situation I never got to the other side of fear, because as an adult I did everything I could to avoid participating in sports.

Remember when you were in junior high and began to notice that you didn’t hate the opposite sex like you used to. In fact you thought it might even be fun to get to know the boy whose locker was next to yours, or that pretty blond who sat in front of you in civics class. Even with your friends egging you on, you still couldn’t get up the nerve to say hello and begin a conversation. Your fears might have been, “what if they don’t like me?” “What if my mind goes blank and I don’t know what to say?” “What if I come across as a loser?” “Or, a creep.” What if? What if?

And it didn’t get better in high school. And it didn’t get any better in college. And when you were single and out of college it still didn’t get any better. And if unfortunately you got divorced and found yourself single once again, you still couldn’t overpower your fear of walking up to a total stranger; introducing yourself and carrying-on a conversation.

Fear is fear. And unless you do something about it you will feel the same fears when you’re ninety years old that you did when you were five years old. Just ask my mother. Does that make any sense?

To getting to the other side,

Michael

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