"Past events inform future fear."
You might've heard the idea that what you fear is often what you need to do most.
Maybe it doesn't apply to spiders, cramped spaces, or heights but I'd argue you at least need to explore your fears.
Because most of the time what we fear is ego-threatening, not life-threatening.
We'll often "fear" or avoid something because of the unknown.
On the surface, our gut tells us...
What if it doesn't work out?
What if I fail?
But I like to go deeper and explore what those questions are really implying?
What if it doesn't work out and people judge me for it?
What if I fail and people don't think I'm worthy?
It's the innate wiring of human beings to want to belong, be loved, and feel safe.
From a primordial perspective, it makes total sense.
If we were to be exiled from our tribe, we wouldn't survive on our own very long.
Being loved (and I'd argue that it's giving love that's more important) is our wiring to procreate - essential for any species.
We need to be safe & alive in order to procreate - no one's arguing that.
In 2022, these fears don't really serve us like they used to, but so many of our actions are rooted in these deep-seated fears.
As I began to explore my own mental health years ago, I was on a mission to understand how I tick at a core level.
Why did I make certain decisions?
Why did I get excited about certain things and couldn't care less about others?
Why was I getting nervous or sad?
The answers were all rooted in fear.
A lot of these came back to fear of rejection.
What would people think if I wasn't super successful in a sales role?
How would I be able to show my face in my friend group if I wasn't able to buy a new car like they were?
Why was I getting so nervous around an attractive girl that I would end up never going over to say hi at all?
Why was I avoiding sparring with a brown belt in jiu-jitsu who I knew was going to dominate me?
Most of us live a life controlled by our fears, protecting our egos.
It's not until we identify them, shine a light on them, and explore how great we'd feel if they didn't exist... can we start to create a life worth living.
In October of last year, I started ending my morning meditation with 5 intentions. I repeated the same 5 every day and the last one was "Do the hard things in the face of fear."
It reframed how I thought about situations of avoidance.
And after a few experiences of pushing through fear to find the breakthroughs on the other side, I realize I had been controlled by fear for too long.
"Okay, why am I avoiding this or putting it off? Am I scared because I'm going to get hurt/die, or is my little ego scared of failing/rejection?"
I coupled it with the Spotlight Effect - the idea that no one is thinking about you or what you do as much as you believe. They're too busy thinking about themselves.
Life changes when you lean into fear, have faith in your resilience, and bet on yourself.
So after my injury 3 mins into my first ever jiu-jitsu match in February, my inner critic was holding the podium for a few weeks.
It was consuming me with negative thoughts:
❌ You're too old for this
❌ Told you this would happen
❌ Maybe you should just quit
❌ You've tried for 5 years and can't stay healthy
But I was still ending my meditation with the intention of leaning into fear.
Why am I so hesitant to compete? Where is this coming from?
Sure, injuries are frustrating, but I've dealt with them my whole life playing sports and know I have what it takes to rehab + recover.
So it was a perfect opportunity for me to lean into this head-on.
I didn't want to go out there and be a total flop in front of my instructor & teammates.
I didn't want to put in all the work to train and 'fail'.
It came down to ego.
After starting my first business almost 2 years ago, my definition of failure has completely changed.
I believe now the only way you fail is if you never get your ass off of the sidelines and try.
After reflecting on that, it was a no-brainer.
I doubled down on what I could control - my training, sleep, eating well, and meditation.
I've learned that my mental health is fueled & firing on all cylinders when I do things I love and do hard things while staring fear in the face.
It would have been easy to not compete again after injuring cartilage in my rib.
There will always be unlimited excuses to talk yourself out of something - the key is to find the 1 reason why it's worth it.
People don't regret when they do something and 'fail', they regret never trying.
Don't sacrifice your long-term growth & happiness for short-term comfort.
- Staying in a job you hate
- Going after what you truly want in life
- A toxic relationship because you're scared of being alone
- Learning a new hobby + being OK being a beginner again
Ask yourself, is this ego-threatening or life-threatening?
As humans, we need a few things to be thriving + happy
- Choice in what we do with our time
- To feel competent in our work
- Live an authentic life true to who we are at our core
- Connection with our tribe
- A challenge worthy of our time + hard-work
Ask yourself, "Are any of these missing from my life?"
Remember, nothing worth having comes easy.
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