Living in Fear

I was reflecting this morning on regret and living in fear.

I can hardly imagine a worse outcome than to come to the end of your life and realize that you never went after the things that you really wanted and settled for a life of mediocrity, comfort and regret.

In this Tony Robbins article, the authors outline some signs you’re living in fear:

  • Perfectionism – The feeling that we need to wear a mask to protect ourselves against being truly vulnerable. Wearing this mask keeps us from finding true intimacy and connection with another because we never allow ourselves to be truly seen;
  • Settling – Becoming too comfortable and settling for less than we deserve in life. They say that if you don’t have a deep, passionate relationship or a job you absolutely love, then you are settling and living in fear;
  • Procrastination – Always making an excuse for why you can put things off until tomorrow is actually a sign that you’re afraid to take action and go after your dreams today;
  • Numbing Yourself – Using other “medications” to numb yourself to the “bad” feelings for when you truly feel like you’re living your extraordinary life, you don’t want to numb yourself, you want to experience it all.

I can see myself in all of those things to some degree, unfortunately.

The Rocking Chair Test

Another good visual I learned along the way (I think from Tony Robbins), is the Rocking Chair test.

That is to imagine yourself at 90 years old, sitting in your rocking chair, and looking back on your life.

Would you be proud of the way you lived it? Or would you be filled with regret?

Doing this can help snap you out of your fear because the cost of inaction is much greater.

I, for sure, fear the latter.

Fear Is Debilitating

Fear is one of our greatest enemies in life. It can cause us to lean into comfort and never get beyond our comfort zone. But the price you pay for staying in your comfort zone is much worse than taking risks and going after what you want.

After posting the question, “What is your biggest regret” on Twitter, author Emma Freud came to the conclusion that the best advice she could give to her newly admitted, and admittedly nervous, college freshman son was, “The most debilitating enemy you can have is your own fear. Own your mistakes but don’t dwell on self-blame. Be confident. Learn from your teachers – you’ll never regret that. Take risks – they may go wrong but it’s better than regretting not having tried.”

One of the most poignant responses for me in the article was “Too scared to risk failing at something I loved, so succeeded at something I had no passion for”.

Overcoming Fear

Contemplating how much fear has kept me stuck personally, professionally, and in relationships has helped me to realize that actually doing the thing I fear is a much better response than receding from fear. Taking changes and going after what I want is exhilarating (if also scary) but I’d rather feel alive than feel like I’m not living.

I’m going to start leaning into my fear and make it my goal to start doing things that scare me. Sure, I’ll fail a bunch but failure is critical to success. If you’re not failing, you’re not taking enough risk (I’m paraphrasing). But for me, I’ve lived with a lot of inaction and it’s never gotten me closer to the life I want. I think it’s time to change that!

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