I did a segment on the Tucker Carlson show on Fox News yesterday. They were expecting me to be in "rage," but instead I came in peace and talked about the power of fear. Here are are a few thoughts that I didn't have time to share Live.
At its core, fear is an emotion. No different from joy, anger, frustration, or shock. By definition, fear is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. It’s something in the pit of your stomach that makes you feel uncomfortable. What makes fear particularly dangerous is that it is driven by beliefs and not by fact. Beliefs are inherently biased, flawed, and situational. Beliefs are shaped by your experiences, your culture, and your community. Your beliefs, although they are your own, aren’t real. They aren’t verifiable. They aren’t facts.
Let’s say you were robbed at gun point outside of the 7-Eleven by a teenage boy at 1 o’clock in the morning. Depending on your previous experiences, your culture, and your community, you could generate a set of beliefs that would translate into a fear. You could decide that all 7-Elevens are dangerous and resolve to never go to one again. Or, you might rationalize that the teenage boy was the source of the problem and choose to limit your actions with teenage boys. You might even think that being out at 1 a.m. in morning caused the confrontation and elect to always be in your house by midnight. Regardless of how you process the situation, your fear will lead you to change your actions. And that is what makes fear inherently dangerous: It can change your actions, limit your options, and alter your choices.
If you are afraid of heights, then it will limit your ability to see the world. If you are afraid to leave a bad relationship, you may limit your ability to find a healthy loving partner. If you have fear of judgment, you may limit your ability to take chances that are against the grain. Living in a state of fear feeds insecurities, hate, and bad decisions. Given its power, breaking the cycle of fear is of paramount importance. And how do you break the cycle of fear in your life?
First things first, you must realize it’s a journey. Societal standards, expectations, and perceptions began shaping our fears from the moment we entered the world. Breaking years and years of indoctrination is going to take time. Be easy on yourself. But the best way to become fearless is to use your fearless muscle. Start by making small fearless choices. Admit you made a mistake, even if you are afraid of backlash or judgement. Cut your hair even if you fear being labeled unprofessional or unattractive. Leave an unhealthy relationship even if you are afraid of being alone. Quit your job and start your own business even in you fear that you won’t be successful.
Even those we deem “fearless” experience fear. The difference is that they don’t let fear stop them from making bold decisions. I cut my hair, quit my job, divorced my husband, and admitted I was wrong (more than once). And I am still on my path to becoming more fearless. I am still working on not letting comments on my blogs send me into a whirlwind of self-doubt. But I don’t let the fear that someone will disagree, criticize, or judge me stop me from writing. Although fearful, I still write. I still talk. I still debate. With every decision to face my fears, I am one step closer to being fearless. To being free.