How often do we give ourselves second best in life, or choose to not do what we are capable of, because of fear?
A lesson from life…
Earlier this week I literally had one of the best nights of my life because I pushed through that fear, stepped out of my comfort zone, and did what I really wanted to do…
I was late buying tickets to see one of my favourite artists, Passenger (Mike Rosenberg), in concert at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne. I got a seat in the back row at the extreme edge… the furthest I could be from the stage while being in the seated area.
When the support act finished the security guards motioned for people in the front rows to come forward to the rail in front of the stage. As Passenger started to play others from the audience made their way down as well.
I wanted to go down too but fear glued me to my seat. What was I afraid of? Some childhood fear of “getting in trouble” or being rejected? It was completely irrational and yet I just couldn’t move.
I stayed in my seat for the first two songs, my desire to go join the crowd pitted against this irrational fear. When the third song started I mustered enough courage, stood up, walked down the steps to the front, and found a superb spot just one person back from the rail.
Passenger and the band were only a few metres away, I had a near perfect view of the stage, and also the whole audience behind me when I turned around.
The music was incredibly loud, but not as deafening as I expected. The huge ground-level subwoofer stack was at chest height just on the other side of the rail… I could feel every base note pound through my body.
I had just stepped into an amazing space, physically and emotionally. The fear was gone. I never went back to my seat…
Being entertained by Mike Rosenberg is like having your best friend on stage sharing about his life, his empathy for others, and concerns about where the world is heading, and then translating this into his powerful heart-felt songs.
The concert was an awesome and profound experience. I stood there for the whole evening soaking up the atmosphere, joining in with everyone else clapping, yelling and singing at the top of my voice. I was high on feel-good emotions and having loved myself enough to step our of fear into freedom.
What I could have settled for…
What I experienced after putting aside my fear…
The impact of fear…
Had I stayed in my seat I would have had a great time… but I would have denied myself the best. How often do I do this in other areas of life? How often does fear hold me back from doing what my heart yearns to do, or stop me doing things that I am actually capable of doing?
My early childhood left me scripted with deep fears of rejection and failure. In response I adopted behaviours to minimize the possibility of these things happening.
Fear of failure has trapped me in my comfort zone… stretching or challenging situations are “too dangerous” because I might fail.
I’ve stayed silent so often instead of expressing valuable thoughts and opinions that could have impacted others lives… the fear of possible rejection was too painful.
These fears are irrelevant to my adult life and yet it has taken decades to realize this and start identifying them in action, distorting decisions large and small every day.
Keys to becoming free…
- Develop self-awareness of how you make choices. Raise a red flag every time you think “I can’t”. Are you choosing against worthwhile activities because of fear? Is saying you don’t have the ability/time/desire really valid? Or is it just an excuse to give in to your fear?
For some months now I have been using a Mindfulness app called Headspace… it has helped significantly with being far more aware of my fears and how they impact my decision-making.
- Challenge fear-based thinking. Am I limiting myself because of a valid reason or because of fear?
Sometimes there are good reasons to not do worthwhile activities… none of us have endless time and energy… some things in life (like climbing Mt Everest) really are outside our capabilities.
However, our fears are often invalid and irrational. They frequently come from long-past experiences that have no relevance to our life today.
- You don’t have to suppress your fears but you don’t have to follow them either. Feelings are neither good nor bad… they are simply feelings. Accept that the fear is present and make your choice independently of it. In time the fear will likely dissipate.
- Choose what is most life-giving and do it. This is the tough bit… but it is also the doorway to freedom and fulfilment! Overcoming fear takes courage… but the more you choose against irrational fear and experience the good things that flow from it, the more you empower yourself, and the easier it is next time.
(Yes, sometimes things may not turn out as hoped but instead of allowing “failure” to reinforce your fears, take the opportunity to learn and do things better next time.)
The theory is easy… applying it takes time…
Becoming free of fear is a process. It takes persistence and hard work.
I expect I’ll be working at it for the rest of my life…
… and every new step into freedom will be worth it!
To experience a video of Passenger’s reflection on world events of 2016, the heartfelt song that followed, and the crowd’s powerful response, check out my facebook post…