There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure. – Paulo Coelho
The Crippling Nature of Fear
Fear, that small but mightily crippling 4-letter word that plaques everyone into inaction at some point in their life.
It’s subtle, convincing, and I’ve been a prisoner to fear many, many times before.
It pushed me to extremes 3 years ago, when I wanted to go travelling for the first time.
I remember, very vividly, fearing the implications of what might come from my world adventures. Excitement was there, but negative thoughts dominated my mind about my safety, career prospects, and financial situation.
I remember, even when I arrived in Australia back in 2012, it still didn’t feel right, but something deep inside pushed me on, to embrace and ride with the fear.
Maybe it was adventure?
Maybe it was the hope of a better life?
Maybe I was running from fear?
Regardless, for the last 4 years I’ve adventured 40 countries around the world, experiencing many new things and stepping into my fears along the way.
Travel has taught me a lot about myself and helped me understand how to deal with my own fear. I’m still not there, and probably never will be, but i’m learning.
I’d like to share what I’ve learnt in hope that you can step into your fear and go towards the things that are important to you.
Advice For Stepping Into The Fear
1 – Create A Security blanket – My first piece of advice is the main reason I felt “safe” going travelling in the first place. If you’re thinking of trying something new and feeling the fear, build up a security blanket that you can fall back on if things go pear shaped.
My security blanket for going travelling was my university degree and my safe haven at my mum’s house in the north of England. I knew that, whatever happened on the road, I’d only ever be one plane journey away from home. I also had a good degree which I knew I could use to get a job straight away so travelling was a no brainer. Having this in the back of my mind helped neutralise a lot of my fear and encouraged me to dabble and step into the unknown.
2 – Shift Your Mindset – What you think about all day long is what you become. The beauty here is that you have choice in what you think about and how you react to fear. You can a) let it cripple you b) see it as an opportunity and use it to your advantage.
It all depends on how you start. If you start with the wrong mindset, you might never walk through fear to the other side. Because of the very nature of fear, it’s easy to look at fear in terms of scarcity, asking questions such as what will go wrong here? But let’s be realistic, most of our fears aren’t going to kill us, What if you shifted your mindset and started thinking about your fears in a positive light. When a fear arises, ask yourself questions such as: What opportunities could arise from this? What will I gain from embracing this fear?
3 – Don’t feed fear – Leading on from the previous point, Fear on fear, breeds more fear. Fears come alive when we give them time, thought and energy. It drains us and it can feel like we are trapped in a cupboard with no means of escape. However, if you can learn not to feed the fear, and instead channel your energy into taking small incremental intentional steps past that fear, then over time, through positive confirmation and persistence, the fear will begin to subside.
4 – It’s not real – Perhaps the most liberating realisation for me was that fear is self-composed, and constructed in our own minds. It’s not real and doesn’t exist. After a lot of positive experiences travelling, I found that about 95% of what I was worrying about never came to fruition. Can you relate to that kind of statistic?And even if something did go wrong, it always seemed to work out better than I’d imagined. Remind yourself that like a fantasy in our head, fear is just something we’ve drawn up ourselves. It isn’t real, and it has no life, unless we feed it.
5 – Find A Support System – If fear really is crippling you and you can’t fight it by yourself, then find a friend who’s fearing the same, and jump onboard with them. There’s 1000s of people out there who are suffering from the same fears as you. I originally travelled with my good friend Joe from university. When we set off travelling for the first time, we both had the same fears. We piggybacked, and found support and safety in each other’s company. It helped a lot knowing that I had someone beside me tackling the same challenges as me.
6 – Feel The Fear and Do It Anyways – To overcome any fear, you need to come to arrive at a point of acceptance with it. There’s no hiding from fear and it will always be there whether you like it or not. It’s part of our DNA and makes us human. Be thankful for fear and when it arises, know that it’s there to act as a subtle reminder that whatever you fear is important to you. Here, feel the fear, and if it’s not going to hurt you or others, move towards it with deliberate action. You’ll create momentum, and magical things will happen that you never anticipated.
I always imagine what life would be like without fear, and arrive at the conclusion that it’d be pretty boring. I mean, come on, imagine being able to get everything you ever wanted?
The reward is always in the challenge and journey. The highs are shaped by the lows, and that’s
why I’m thankful that fear exists. It’s been useful for guiding me to where I am today, and my life would be very different without its influence.
In conclusion, like the navigation system of a ship, fear is useful for showing us the right direction and guiding us towards what’s important in life, but only if you’re looking in the right direction in the first place.
All the best and thanks for reading,
Daniel Beaumont, 30th November 2016
About the Author
Hello everyone, I’m Dan – a 28-year-old social entrepreneur and writer from the north of England, living in Bucharest, Romania. I’m currently writing my first book about my 4-year journey around the world seeking wisdom and life-lessons from everyday people I met hitchhiking and Couchsurfing.
I discovered that travel, if approached with the right mindset, can be life-changing, and a trip combining travel, purpose and introspection is a great way to learn, challenge oneself and change for the better. Now my mission in life is to share what I’ve learned to inspire others to embark on their own journey of self-discovery and use travel, entrepreneurship and technology as a means to make the world a better place.
I’m also the founder of Podstel – a vision to help humanity belong and grow by creating a worldwide network of ‘homes’ that bring locals and travellers together to share their stories, passions and skills. The first two Podstels are open and thriving in Bucharest, so if you’re passing through, be sure to come and say hi, or stay the night with us.
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