I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on what the words fear and fearless mean and how they apply to my life. I’ve pondered what it’s like to be gripped by fear and to experience the free flowing energy of being fearless.
Lately, I’ve noticed that fear and fearlessness are ever present, like two friends ready to whisper in my ear at any moment. Sometimes one friend clearly overpowers the other, and sometimes they both tug at my attention. I have learned a whole lot by listening to them.
Fear cuts me off from life. Fearlessness sets me free.
Fear makes me feel sticky. Fearlessness feels crystal clear and squeaky clean.
Fear makes me feel small. Fearlessness shows me how big I really am.
A simple definition of fear is an anxious feeling caused by our anticipation of some imagined experience.
As we know, there are two types of fear: real and perceived. Real fear has helped our species survive. For example, running back into the cave helped our ancestors avoid dangerous animals.
Perceived fear is generated from our busy minds. There’s the fear of scarcity, of not having people or things in our life, or of losing what we already have. There’s the fear of missing out, the fear of the unknown, and the fear of death.
Sometimes I give into the dark side of perceived fear and follow her down the path of separateness or unworthiness. Just to keep things real, a few of my current perceived fears are:
- My book will be criticized.
- My daughter’s broken ankle will not heal properly.
- I’ll forget to show up for a meeting or interview.
These self-generated fears are constructed in my (our) busy mind. They are often described as False Evidence Appearing Real — FEAR.
The way to be fearless is not to avoid fear but to cozy up to it. Get to know fear and it starts to dissolve right in front of our eyes. When we face our perceived fears head on, including our phobias, anxiety, trepidation, nervousness, worry, and restlessness, we experience a powerful energy called truth that sets us frees. This is the mark of fearlessness.
Here’s how I face my current perceived fears:
- I recently read the first critical review of my book amongst a sea of positive reviews. I have to admit, it’s pretty harsh. I’ve decided to not take it personally, as the reader was obviously on a specific mission. By the way, I’m still standing.
- I’ve decided that I have no control over how my daughter’s ankle will heal. All I can do is nurture her. Holding onto this perceived fear is wasting my time and energy.
- I trust that if I slow down, carefully put my meetings and interviews on my calendar and check my calendar every morning, I will not forget to show up.
When we face our fears, they dismantle right in front of us. Like a clean-burning fire, fearlessness sheds light upon and blazes through every role, responsibility, and relationship that drains our energy and dulls our joy de vivre.
My friend known as Perceived Fear still visits me frequently. I’m getting better at calling her out by not following her too far down her destructive path. I’m also getting more comfortable hanging out with my friend named Fearless. She’s much more fun to be around.
When we get curious about what it means to be fearless, we uncover everything false or imbalanced in our lives. We expose what isn’t real and true. We let go. We wake up. We show up and shine.