One of the most important things we can learn to do in life is to face our fears. I believe that fear is a motivator that can either help us or hurt us. When fear shows up in your life and you are terrified, you can only do one of two things: You face it, walk into it and deal with it OR you can run from it. In psychology that is called “fight or flight.”
There are two different kinds of fear: healthy and unhealthy. I am afraid to touch a hot stove. That is a good, healthy fear. I have learned from personal experience and from the experience of others, that a hot stove can be dangerous. I am glad that I have a healthy respect and fear of a hot stove!
An unhealthy kind of fear might be like learning how to use a computer, which was one of my biggest fears. When I started using the computer, everything about it scared me – even the on/off button! Because of my limited knowledge, at the time, the more I worked with it, the more frustrated I became. There were a few times that I even wanted to wrap my hands around its throat and choke it to death, but I didn’t know where its throat was!
I read an article several years ago stating that one of the most difficult things a person over the age of 35 would ever learn how to do was use a computer or program a VCR. I did not want to be defeated by a machine! Since I knew that technology was not going to leave, I decided that I needed to embrace the computer and learn how to use it. The more familiar I became with it the less terrified I was. You see, I walked into my fear rather than running from it.
Another unhealthy fear might be that of being around people. My friend and business associate, Carl Smith, once told me that when he was young he was terrified of people. When his relatives came to his house to visit, he would go to his bedroom and hide.
It is amazing to me that Carl, who was once afraid of his own relatives, is now one of the most outgoing, friendly people I have ever met in my life! When people hear his story, they are proud of him and are so excited about his success in this area. Hearing of his accomplishment causes them to realize that they can do the same thing.
My good friends, Joe and Dawn Pici, speak and train on sales and cold calling. Joe says, “Do what you don’t like until you do like it, then you will become an expert at it!” In other words, if you face your fear and defeat it, then it will become a new strength.
The key to overcoming your fear is to simply start. If you are afraid of meeting people, just start by smiling and saying, “Hello.” Even if you are on an elevator you can start by saying, “Good morning.” Or, when you meet someone new, shake hands with them and say, “It’s nice to meet you.” That’s a start.
I love baseball. One thing I find fascinating about a baseball player is that he will approach the batter’s box with his heart beating rapidly and he will do everything in his power to succeed. He faces his fear of a baseball coming at him close to 90 miles per hour. Yet, seven out of ten times, he will fail. If he can succeed in getting on base three out of ten times he is at bat, he will end up in the Hall of Fame. You see, people love and admire others who are willing to face their fears.
If you run from what terrifies you most, you are running in the wrong direction! If, however, you are willing to face whatever terrifies you and walk into it, rather than running from it, you will be a winner! There will be people cheering you on, just like we cheer on baseball players and other sports figures who struggle, fight and win.
If anyone as shy as Carl can overcome his shyness with his own relatives, surely other people can overcome their fear as well. And, if anyone who is as computer illiterate as me can overcome that, I guarantee you that anyone can! The key is simply to start.
Most of us have enough common sense to recognize healthy fears from unhealthy fears. If someone asked you to jump out of a plane without a parachute, and you were feeling fear, I would tell you that is a good healthy fear. I am not asking you to do something foolish. Most of us can tell the difference between the two different kinds of fear.
All I am saying is that when I think that what I am trying to do is sensible and I still feel terrified, I refuse to allow that to control me. I am not going to run from it; I am going to walk into it. The best I can tell, that is the right thing to do. Will you join me?
Tip: Walk towards whatever terrifies you!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm