ALLOWING FEAR = A LIFETIME OF REGRET
The next time you feel anxiety, consider this: Fear will give you a lifetime of regret! What do you want? There is a certain amount of fear that protects us from harm, but we should understand that limit: Does it mean life or death? If it doesn’t, then get over it, or we will regret avoiding fear, maybe the rest of our lives if we don’t get that second opportunity.
Facing fear translates to growth, learning new things, improving, becoming better, and experiencing life. Avoiding fear leads to life’s regrets.
My First Fear
I remember fear from very early in my life, my first memory of fear was pre-kindergarten. My parents enrolled me in swimming lessons because my dad had a fear of the water and neither of my parents were avid swimmers, so they wanted me to learn how to swim early. I remember standing at the edge of the high dive with the instructor and a couple other people in the water telling me to jump in. I stood there with my hands crossed, shaking my head “no.” (I’ve always been a little head strong.) It wasn’t so much the water that scared me, I always loved water, but for me, it was the fear of heights. I stood there for some time at the edge of the diving board, the ascent up the ladder wasn’t bad, but the jump scared me more than anything. I must have delayed the instructors long enough because someone was headed up the ladder to give me a push off the dive, which I didn’t want either, so I jumped! Splash! It wasn’t as bad as I made it in my mind. Because I faced this fear and jumped in, years later, at 17, I became a life guard. I faced fear and was glad I did.
My family visited my Aunt, Uncle and cousins in California and I fell in love with California, deciding I wanted to go to college there after that vacation. I loved the ocean, the hiking, Disneyland and our camping trip to Yosemite National Park.
Once again, my fear of heights surfaced. We were hiking and my adventurous Aunt planned to hike to the top of “Puppy Dome,” of course I wanted to do it too, but knew I would be scared as well. I can remember getting to the top, my heart was racing so fast, my body was lying flat practically glued to the granite, with my hands in the crevasses as we reached the top. I don’t think I could stand, I was too scared, but I made it, with my Aunt’s encouragement and loved that I did that. The memory has remained with me my entire life. I faced fear and was glad I did.
So later in life when it was time for college, fear set in again. I had a boyfriend and I was afraid to leave my home state and pursue my dream of college in California because I feared the relationship would end. I really liked this guy and chose to stay in town, rather than go away to college. Big mistake! My relationship ended with that guy and I’ve always regretted my decision of not going away to college and have thought about: What would my life have been like if I had pursued what I really wanted, instead of acting based on fear? I let fear take over me, and I regretted it, no second chance on this one.
I still challenge myself by facing fear of heights: zip lining, jumping off elevated ledges into water, scaling walls, climbing up the ladder to the roof hatch of a commercial building roof top, and by walking a parapet catwalk during a property inspection. The fear hasn’t gone away, but each time, I’m glad I faced the fear; I don’t have regrets, and the fear lessens.
The physical fears I seem to face willingly, but often it’s the fear involving people that I don’t, and then regret it later. In fact, there are several times where I’ve regretted not facing a fear, later in life, involving people. Facing fear is about becoming vulnerable; and when we become vulnerable, we are not protected; so, we are fearful. This is not the way to live though, unless we want a life of regrets. Just as any other fear, if we face it, we become stronger.
As an adult, I had the surprise opportunity to spend New Year’s Eve in Key West with a guy I really cared about, but I had planned a party with friends at my house and had sent invitations, not knowing about the surprise trip that was planned. I didn’t want to let my friends down, but being honest I preferred and wanted to go on that trip with him. I stayed home out of fear of disappointing my friends, and believing I should stay independent, and I regretted that decision ever since.
Fear also leads to us to “Settle” for what we wouldn’t choose normally. We begin to justify settling, to protect ourselves, so we don’t have to face the fear. I believe lack of self-confidence is the reason we don’t face fear involving people. People with confidence face fear; they overcome the fear and therefore become more confident people. Don’t let fear be the reason behind decisions.
Being Independent to the extreme is Acting in Fear
Fear involving people is evident in those who want to do everything for themselves and don’t ask for help. I know that because I have been that person, most of my life: independent. I still don’t like to rely on anyone, relying on someone makes us vulnerable, and being independent protects us: we don’t need anyone! I’ve always admired independent people, but there should be a balance in life, nothing to the extreme ever ends up good. (This is continuous work for me, relying on others.) If we let fear take over, we won’t grow, we can’t follow our purpose, or develop the gift we were born with. Fear sets limits. If we limit ourselves, we can’t possibly be all that is possible, if we had no limitations. Letting fear take over leads us to the: “What if….?” (Our regrets).
FACING FEAR = REWARDS
So next time, face fear: stand up for beliefs, suggest that new idea, take a risk, say “no,” push ourselves to the next level, act with courage, speak your mind, be authentic/be you, go for it, ask for what we need, just do it,have that conversation, follow passions, take that vacation (work will always be there), ask “Will I regret this later, if I don’t do it now?”
I’m not saying be reckless, but if we want to live life to the fullest and be the best person we can be, don’t limit ourselves, don’t let fear control our actions: Face fear and be rewarded!