Learning to Live with the Fear Monster

Learning to Live with the Fear Monster


We all know that feeling. When you are about to try something new or put yourself out there at the risk of failing.

It's funny how the unknown can scare us so much. We begin to doubt our abilities, "What if I'm not good enough?", "What if it doesn't work out?", "What if no one buys it?", "What if they don't like me?".  We have all had these thoughts before and when you really stop and think about it, how often have they ever come true? Yet we still spend many sleepless nights and devote a lot of time and energy to worrying about them.

When I was first planning to quit my full-time corporate job to start my own business, fear often kept me up at night.

Most of the time I felt certain I was making the right move. But then every night when the lights went off, fear would always have a way of finding me.

And not just one fear, hundreds of them. Circling above my bed, waiting to attack.

So there I'd be, alone in the dark with my fears. Hundreds of them, flying at me all at once.

"Remain calm", I'd tell myself. "Deep breath, you can beat these. One at a time."

I'd be processing one and then BOOM, another three fears would hit me all at once.

I felt like I was dodging my own thoughts left, right and center just to stay afloat.

Then, extreme panic would set in and I'd feel like I just had to escape. Like I was trapped in a bad dream, tossing and turning, trying to wake up.

Have you ever had that feeling?

It would have been easier to surrender to fear and stay with the safety and security of my job. 

But my job was compromising my health and I knew that staying there was no longer an option for me. Although it was scary, I had to push through.

So I decided to look at it a different way. I could stay up all night, every night, trying to fight off the fears. Or, I could let them be. Let them circle over head and fly at me all they want, but I would no longer fight back. I no longer cared what they had to say. I had already made my decision about quitting, so what good would it do listening to the fears?

Eventually the fears got tired of flying and trying to torment me with no success and they settled down on the end of my bed. They didn't go away and I knew they never would, but over time they learned that they would no longer get a reaction out of me and we learned to co-exist in the same room. 

How did I get to this decision of learning to live with fear, instead of trying to fight it? It was decision itself.

I believe the power of fear is directly related to indecision.

If we are still considering the option of pulling out, giving up or not going ahead with our grand plan, then we are more likely to listen to fear as we try and decide what our best option is.

But, if we remove the option completely. Make a firm decision to go ahead and tell ourselves that the decision has been made and is final, then we remove the power of fear. Whether we like it or not, the decision is final so what good will listening to fear do?

You might say, "But what if there are risks I haven't thought of yet? Shouldn't I consider every possible outcome so that I can be prepared?" My answer to this is NO. Have faith in your ability to deal with these circumstances as they arise. It's far more beneficial to put your time and energy into considering all the possible opportunities rather than the unlikely risks. Imagine all the amazing ideas you would come up with if you listened to your dreams and imagination as much as you listen to your fears.

Starting my own business has taught me a lot but the hardest and most rewarding lesson has been learning to stop fighting fear and start living with it instead. 

Fear will always be there, sitting on the end of my bed, waiting for me to engage. But I'm no longer scared of it, it's been stripped of all its power. It can hang around all it wants, but it will no longer get a reaction out of me.

Do you know someone who could do with some help learning to live with the fear monster? Share this post with them.