Fear can be paralyzing and make us feel like there’s no way out. Annie Downs, a speaker and author of the book “Let’s All Be Brave”, recently delivered a message on fear. She posed this question in response to “What if?” questions of fear in our lives: “… And then what?” This really hit me because I HATE feeling STUCK and it helped remind me of so many things that I learned in The Journey Training.
I’m a planner, always have been – always will be. I remember making college plans from a young age. I thought I was destined for Harvard, Florida State, or Notre Dame. I always thought I knew what career I was going to choose – everything from Chairman of the Board or lawyer to an actress on Days of our Lives.
I pursued both medicine and nursing in college. In my mind, it didn’t matter that I’m legally blind with a left side weakened by a prenatal stroke. There were still plenty of things I could do in those fields! Well, those plans didn’t pan out. And I vividly remember when it occurred to me that I MIGHT not get an acting contract and marry one of the actors. I was devastated!
The day I got rejected from nursing school, my Dad drove up to my college to have dinner with me. He was expecting to have to pick me up off the floor. And then what? I made the choice to believe that I was going to be okay, that GOD HAD BETTER PLANS FOR ME.
I actually went to the University of Georgia for my Bachelor’s degree, the University of San Diego for my Master’s degree, and now I’m a Special Education teacher. There were a lot of steps in getting there, a lot of tears cried, and a lot of plans that changed.
Fears can stop us if we give up and let them – or we can choose to do something else instead.
Your boyfriend breaks up with you. And then what? You enjoy more time with your friends and you go meet new people.
You don’t get a job you wanted or you lose your job. And then what? You keep networking and applying for other jobs.
Your weight loss methods aren’t working as you hoped. And then what? You try something different.
We can’t completely stop fear from entering our lives, but life doesn’t have to stop when a fear is realized. We can choose to find an answer to the question, “And then what? It usually just takes one small step to begin working through the fear. I’m not saying it will be easy and we don’t have to do it alone.
No matter our circumstances, God doesn’t give up on us: “I’ve never quit loving you, and I never will. ” Jeremiah 31:3
Are you feeling stuck somewhere in your life? Do you feel like nothing is changing? Are you afraid to make a move because you don’t know what to do next? Consider enrolling in The Journey Training’s next class. There’s your first small step and to answer the question, “And then what?”
“Feel the fear, move through it, do it anyway.” Jillian Michaels told me that when I was going home from The Biggest Loser. She knew I was scared of the challenge of going home and walking my journey on my own. And she also knew that if I felt the fear but did it anyway that I would become The Biggest Loser.
Face Your Fears
There can be no courage without fear. And without fear courage isn’t necessary. You can be assured that this journey we call life will rarely be without scary things – relationships, challenges, responsibilities – usually around every corner! Abraham Lincoln said, “If I am killed, I can die only once; but to live in constant dread of it, is to die over and over again.” We weren’t meant to never be afraid, but we were created to face our fears.
What do you fear?Fear can look many different ways. It can be something as complicated as becoming a parent, getting married, climbing a tree or any number of things. Most of these fears can be tied to a few basic things – like the fear of being alone, the fear of death, the fear of failure or even the fear of success. Who would fear success? Well, with great success comes great responsibility. Getting a million dollars is tough enough, but keeping it is even tougher!
Feel the fear
The first instinct we have is to run from the fear. When fear hits, we want it to go away – sometimes so bad that we will sabotage what we really want for the feeling of security. Jillian knew this when she told me to feel the fear. Denying feelings is never the answer, and it only leads to problems later. If we feel fearful of something and we avoid it, we live that life Lincoln was talking about; dying many deaths. So the first step is to identify your fear and give yourself permission to be afraid. Many of the greatest success stories began with fear. Do you think Bill Gates took dropping out of college to follow his dream lightly? His father freaked out! Yet Bill didn’t let the fear stop him. Instead he identified it, he felt it, and in turn he owned it.
Move through It
Feeling fear is a natural occurrence,and after we own it, we then have to decide what to do with it. There are healthy fears, like not jumping off a skyscraper or not walking into a lion’s den. And then there are fears that are meant to be conquered – the ones that hold us back from what we truly want. Jillian knew this, and that’s why she told me to move through it. Allowing fear to make your decisions for you isn’t always a good thing. In fact, it can make you die that death over and over again!
Dread is a form of fear, and I’ve learned that what you are dreading hardly ever turns out to be as bad as you fear. My neighbor had a dog that bit me on the hand. It was a Pit Bull, and that didn’t help things either. I wanted to talk to her about her dog and ask her to tie it up. You see, it kept getting out and roaming the neighborhood. I was afraid my young children may get hurt if it felt threatened. I put off talking to her because I dread confrontations.
Do it anyway
Finally, when the dog bit me, I decided I had to do it regardless whether I dreaded it or not! She completely understood and told me she didn’t know what to do about it. I offered to help her build a pen for it and the conversation went rather well. All that fear was for nothing! I had lived almost two years dreading this confrontation – or rather conversation – for no good reason. That fear of confrontation kept me stuck for two years, and could have even put my family at risk!
Feel the fear, move through it, do it anyway. That isn’t bad advice! You see, it’s usually our fear that keeps us stuck and holds us back from what we truly want. If we identify our fear, own it and give ourselves permission to feel it without condemnation, and find the courage to move through it to get what we truly want we have faced our fears.
Reward always takes risk
In The Journey Training, I often hear people tell me their greatest fear is being alone. That very fear usually causes them to lose relationships over and over again, by either them holding on too tightly causing people to run or by them not being willing to step out and even have a relationship for fear that they will be left alone. They in turn create what they most fear.
I’ve seen people who fear failure try so hard not to make a mistake that they aren’t willing to risk failure – and most successes come after many failed attempts. In turn, they fail before they even begin, because they aren’t willing to take the chances that are necessary to succeed. They, too, create what they most fear.
Are you creating in your life what you most fear?Are you ready to face your fears and do what it takes to get what you really want? If so, I urge you to go to The Journey Training and sign up for the very next Threshold class. Month after month we see people identify their fears, and find courage they perhaps didn’t even know they had to face it – even just a little. Every journey begins with a single step. Won’t you take yours today to Face Your Fears?
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