The unusual gift of fear

If you feel afraid, there’s a good chance something big is about to happen. You have a choice: run away or step towards it.

With fear resting on one side of the scale, desire to change sits on the other. Either you desperately want something different or a situation has become so unpleasant it leaves no other possible choice. If you let fear win, you may find yourself in the same position next year, or even five years down the line.

Fear forces you to prepare and plan, to collect information, and to consider possible outcomes. But giving too much power to fear welcomes anxiety, lets the mind to travel to far too distant places, and distorts your perspective. From an evolutionary perspective, fear triggers fight or flight. Your heart rate quickens, breathing becomes shallow, and your vision narrows. Unknown situations and unfamiliar circumstances trigger the responses our ancestors once had at the hiss of a snake or bear or enemy.

Each time you embrace fear, you become stronger. The spaces fear once lingered become smaller, and in time, you’ll have so much light that only a small shadow is cast. The next time fear creeps into shadowy places, you’ll know how to cope.

Recognize fear for what it is. Write down all of the possible situations that might occur — the mistakes you’re afraid of, the “maybes” that might happen, the potential disasters (yes, even the ludicrous ones), your fears of success.

Then get ready to act. Committing to a decision will increase your confidence, and fear will be the one that begins to tremble.

Breathe deep and go.