There are at least three kinds of fear. First, there is the fear that no one wants or wishes on anyone. It is facing some daunting life event which turns your hair prematurely white or ages you well beyond your years.
The second kind of fear is one which keeps you from doing something bad, inappropriate, or potentially life-threatening. It keeps you on the right path because the consequences of straying are clear and understood.
The third kind of fear is one which keeps you from doing something you should do. You know it is a path you should take, realizing there are risks but an equal or better chance of good things which could occur.
So, there it is – Fear. Good, bad, or indifferent, we all face it time to time. What actions we take may tell much about our character – on all three levels of fear.
The first we would not reasonably wish on anyone; the second is one we glad we have to keep us from crossing the line; and the third may be the most frustrating or complexing in our lives.
How do we overcome the third fear?
This is the question of the week!
It is interesting when you think about your life. If you are like me, you can think of many examples of the second fear and appreciating that it worked! When you start to think about the examples of the third fear, they become harder to grasp. Essentially, the second fear is prevention-based, and the third fear is change-based. In the second fear, we may know we need to change – the fear of staying on the same path is present in our everyday thoughts – but what triggers the change to happen? Wringing hands with self-doubt and thinking through all the potential impacts can drive you back to the drudgery of the way you have always done it. It’s safe.
False fear can creep in, meaning you may want to change all the time because you never get comfortable with the path you are on.Tweet
False fear can creep in, meaning you may want to change all the time because you never get comfortable with the path you are on. Fear of not changing drives constant change, but the reality is you cannot face the fact that what you have is good. Recognizing false fear may be tough at times. Listening to your true inside Spirit may be the only way to distinguish between the two.
Still, when it is real, how do you overcome the third fear?
Maybe it is the realization that if you do not take an alternate path, things will not change for the better. Maybe it is gathering the inner strength to take the other path. Maybe it is just an understanding there will be a sacrifice made in order to gain the different direction.
Two changes come to mind in my life which may demonstrate overcoming the third fear. When the first bubble burst – The Internet Bubble, the economic intensity of the situation was great. I was very glad to have a job, but it was not a sure thing. The market for our product had mostly vanished; the investors were inconsistent on what they wanted the company to do with the remaining dollars; and there were no new jobs happening in the surrounding area. Keeping finances tight was essential, and the fear of losing my job was near the first kind. I know many people still face this situation today, but when COBRA would take all of your unemployment income, what would you have left to support your family? It was only what was left in savings. Needless to say, I was scared stiff, meaning there was little fun or laughter in our household.
At one point I realized that if I did not lighten up, the first thing I would lose would be the relationship with my kids and wife. We needed to have fun and enjoy life, even in small ways. In this case, the fear of losing what was important to me jarred me free of my fear of losing our livelihood. When you get into situations, it is easy to lose sight of this fact, and sometimes, someone needs to wake-you-up to this fact. One source of overcoming the third fear, then, may be a reasonable, observant, outside-your-normal-network person.
The second case of overcoming the third fear was while living in Washington, DC. I was taking the typical path. Fresh from college, I worked on a Congressional campaign in my home state. After the loss, I was fortunate to land a job as a legislative assistant for one of our U.S. Senators. After a few years of doing this, I moved to the Executive Branch as a political appointee. During this time, Fred Barnes had published a wonderful article entitled The Parasite Culture of Washington. The theme of the article was that most people end up staying in DC, taking the money in becoming a lobbyist. I had absolutely no desire for that outcome, but it was the path I was on.
I always kept that article in my desk drawer and started to think of ways to escape. It was relatively “easy” to stay, but changing directions was clearly going to be tough. I decided to go back to school in order to make a career change, and it worked. It was loaded with high anxiety though. My boss at the time came to me and let me know that I was embarking on the path of the three highest stress factors at one time – quitting my job (i.e., no more income), moving to a new area where I knew no one, and getting married. The fear of staying in DC was too great though!
In this case, overcoming the third fear was an article which served as a reminder that change needed to happen soon.
I didn’t really think about this until now. In both cases, it was outside sources which jarred me out of the third fear. The first source was a counselor of sorts, and the second was a published article. Neither source is dramatic!
The point of fear is?
Maybe the point is this: Recognizing that staying on the same course is no longer a reasonable option because where it is leading you is unhealthy and loaded with loss potential. Keeping grounded through reading, interacting, and listening to others as well as your inner core is what will enable you to overcome the third fear.
Sometimes we think that a more dramatic shock needs to happen in order to overcome the third fear, our fear of changing course for a better way. In reality, it may be the simpler things in life which help guide us in overcoming our fears. It is our challenge to recognize the simple gifts and then use them.