The picture above shows my second skydive, which I did last week. Filled with excitement I was looking forward to it for months. When I did my first skydive in 2014 I wasn’t filled with excitement but rather fear. Jumping out of a perfectly good airplane at 13,000 feet was definitely a big step outside of my comfort zone. However I definitely knew that I wanted to conquer that fear.
Dictionary.com defines fear as “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined.” Fear is one of the four basic emotions we are born with, alongside familial love, anger, and disgust. All human beings, whether they are in their nineties or only an hour old, can display all of them.
For many of us, fear can be the most paralyzing emotion of all. Fear can stop us from giving a speech in public, or hold us back from introducing ourselves to that stranger we would love to meet. We may believe, with every fiber of our being, we deserve that raise because we work hard and we do a good job, yet fear may prevent us from ever asking for it. Fear may keep us in relationships that are no longer working for us, or keep us from moving to that city, state, or country where we would love to live.
Some define the acronym FEAR as False Evidence Appearing Real. In the dictionary definition, fear is an emotion aroused by impending danger, whether the threat is real or imagined. Although there are times in our lives when we feel fear in response to real threats, most of the time it is our imaginations that engenders our fears. The other interesting fact is that all of our fears are actually based on future events. We never fear the past. Our thoughts about the past may still affect us, and we may fear them shaping our future, but we never fear the past itself. The past may bring up a plethora of undesired feelings and emotions, but never fear. When we experience fear, we are projecting out into the future.
The million-dollar question is, how do we overcome our fears? I am sure there are as many different ways to overcome fears as there are fears themselves. What will help us overcome our fears more than anything else is faith.
Fear is simply the absence of faith.
I am not talking about religious or spiritual faith, I am talking about the kind of faith we have when we know that we have met the right person for us. It’s the gut feeling we have when we change careers without ever looking back. Not only do we listen to that gut feeling—which is nothing else but wisdom coming from our subconscious—we are also starting to have hope and faith. At times, as we work on conquering our fears, our faith can be tested. Things may not work out the way we imagined they would, or in the time frame we hoped for, but the universe has a different and better plan in store for us, or it is not time yet.
“Everything works out in the end.
If it hasn’t worked out yet, then it’s not the end.”
– Tracy McMillan
Most, if not all the time when we work on overcoming our fears, we find ourselves in places we dislike, outside our comfort zones. Although unpleasant for almost everyone, it is also a necessary place for us to find ourselves, if we do want to overcome those fears. Growth happens only outside our comfort zones. If we never left our comfort zones, we would never grow, and neither would we experience the things we desire and all that life has to offer. It’s a fact of life that, at one point or another, we will find ourselves outside our comfort zones. If we don’t push ourselves there, life—or someone else—will. One of the hallmarks that highly successful people have in common is, they always push themselves outside their comfort zones.
“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”
– Jack Canfield
Pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones is a worthwhile habit, much like the habit of exercising regularly. You may dislike exercise in the beginning, even feel threatened by it, but once you do it on a regular basis, you get used to it and you may even find you like it. If you stick to it long enough, it will eventually turn into a habit. The habit of pushing ourselves outside our comfort zone is formed no differently. Although it may feel unpleasant in the beginning, it brings huge rewards. When was the last time you consciously pushed yourself outside your comfort zone? Eleanor Roosevelt said, do one thing every day that scares you. Follow that sound advice, and there is no limit to your growth and the variety of amazing experiences you will have.
When we do push ourselves outside our comfort zones, there is one essential element present, whether we are aware of it or not: faith. We do whatever we end up doing with a faithful feeling. We have faith in things working out. Faith is like a muscle; the more we exercise it, the stronger it becomes. Stepping outside our comfort zones is the “gym equipment” we use to strengthen that muscle. Once we approach our fears from a feeling of faith, we may even get to the point at which our fears turn into a feeling of certainty. The following metaphor better describes that process.
Imagine you will be starting a new job on Monday morning. Your new place of employment is located in an unfamiliar part of town. You may feel a certain amount of fear at the thought of driving to work and getting lost, or arriving late on your first day on the job. At this point, you are operating on a level of fear. You may go online over the weekend and look up directions or pull up a map. Looking at them starts to make you feel more at ease, and you hope that you will get to work on time without getting lost. On Monday morning, you enter your destination into the navigational system of your car or on your phone before starting your first official ride to work. To be on the safe side, you have also looked up directions online, printed them out, and have them, ready to use, on your passenger seat, in case you need them. Now you are operating on a level of faith. You have faith that the directions coming from your GPS will get you there, and if your GPS doesn’t work for some reason, you have faith that your printed directions will. Because you prepared superbly, you arrive at work on time. Over the coming days, you get better acquainted with your new route, and eventually you no longer need directions or assistance from your GPS. You feel good about yourself because you can now get to work on your own without any help. You have the know-how. You are operating at a level where you have harnessed your inner wisdom. Before your first day of work, you operated at a level of fear and then your fear turned into faith. Having arrived at work on time, many times in a row, you’ve developed competence and wisdom. With competence and wisdom also come confidence. Feeling confident, you no longer operate only on faith; you operate with confidence and the feeling of certainty (you can make it to work on time without needing directions), and thus have overcome fear.
No matter what fear you are approaching, you will be moving from fear to faith, from faith to wisdom, and from wisdom to confidence and competence. Going from fear to faith can happen quickly, whereas going from faith to confidence and competence tends to take longer, because most of us require repetition to feel that way.
The pleasant side effect of stepping outside of our comfort zones daily (in other words, doing it repetitively) is increased confidence. As a clinical hypnotherapist, I am often approached by people who want to increase their confidence. I differentiate between two kinds of confidence: the confidence we have in ourselves and our physical appearance, and the confidence we have in our skills and abilities. Feeling confident about the latter also requires the act of doing.
Confidence comes from competence,
and that competence comes from doing.
Feeling confident about playing an instrument comes from feeling competent, and that feeling is a result of actually practicing and playing the instrument. Thinking about playing the piano will not result in your becoming a confident pianist.
There are no shortcuts or magic pills to move past our fears. The thoughts we have about our fears are what hold us back. They are only thoughts, and the only power such thoughts have over us is the power we choose to give them. We can also choose to change those thoughts, or the meaning we give them. Remember that fear is the absence of faith, and there are specific steps you can take to move from fear to faith, one of which is stepping outside of your comfort zone. You can choose to focus on your fears, or you can examine where faith can come from. You can draw faith from many places, such as your past successes, support from positive encouraging people who lift your spirits, prayer, affirmations, or meditation. Find out what works best for you, and take your first step outside of your comfort zone. Have faith that you will be okay, because you always are. Finally, get ready for all of the amazing experiences and gifts that will come from taking that very first step.
Everything begins with a first step; the rest will reveal itself and fall into place. You do not need to know how each step will unfold, as it will be revealed to you when you need to know. For instance, driving home in the dark, your car’s headlights illuminate only 160 feet in front of you. You do not see your house, and you don’t need to. All you need to see are the next 160 feet of the road. After that, you will see the next 160 feet, and the next, and so on, until you have arrived in your driveway and can see your house. All you needed to see was 160 feet at a time. The pivotal element you need to know is where you want to go, and then have faith that the way to get there will be revealed to you. Quiet your mind, listen, and trust. All you need to know will be revealed to you.
“Take the first step in faith.
You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
Part of this blog is an expert of my bestseller “10 Ways to Reboot Your Mind Success.”
To get a copy of this book on Amazon CLICK HERE
For a signed copy of the book CLICK HERE