You know what makes me angry, people who don’t curb their dogs. Believe you me, I don’t have anything against dogs or their owners. Dogs are wonderful companions. Many a pooch has passed through my life at one time or another. In fact, at one point we had 4 of them at home, all running around and causing havoc. No, what gets me mad is dog poop.
Yes, you got it, dog poop. And not just dog poop, but dog poop that is in the middle of the sidewalk. You know the kind, dog poop that you have to dance around or jump over in order to get to the curb without stepping into it. I get even angrier if I’m not looking down and step right into a pile of dog poop. Oh yes that has happened to me. Why don’t people just curb their dogs as the sign says, and — because it is the law.
Unrealistic fear, like dog poop, gets me real angry. That’s why I wrote the book Kick Fear to the Curb: 5 Action Steps for a Courageous You. Fear used to get in my way of doing the things I wanted to do and you know what, that made me angry, so angry that I decided to do something about it.
In her book, Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion, Carol Tavris explains that fear and anger aren’t that different. She says that “any event that is unfamiliar, intrusive and compelling – and that potentially requires you to respond – will stimulate the production of adrenaline, and, to a varying extent, noradrenalin as well.” What differs, she informs us, is each individual’s reaction and behavior.
I don’t know about you, but stepping in a pile of dog poop is very intrusive and so is living a life filled with unrealistic fear. Poop and unrealistic fear need to be curbed, out of your way of moving forward.
Why did I choose the curb as the place where unrealistic fear should eventually end up? The curb is an edge built along the street to form a gutter. It’s a raised edge that is meant to confine or strengthen the sidewalk. The gutter is recessed underneath the curb.
Anything that gets to the curb will eventually end up in the gutter.
There are so many of us that allow fear to be the center of attention in our life experiences. Every time you’re ready to do something, be it great or small, here comes unrealistic fear. First, it triggers your memory to search for a similar, long ago experience. Then, it forces you to dwell on the bad feelings that took place with that situation. Next, it uses those same emotions to put doubt and fear in your mind. Before you know it you are hesitant, reluctant to take that chance of feeling that way again. But, this should not be how you react.
Just like bypassing that dog poop, with unrealistic fear you have to take action. Do everything possible not to allow it to throw you off your path. Move around it, jump over it, dance if you must, just don’t let it stop you from moving forward. For me, I put unrealistic fear where it belongs — below, not above; underneath, not on top.
You should be the one looking down and gloating at fear, not the other way around.
So, if you are ready for a change and unrealistic fear is blocking your way, kick fear now and keep on stepping right into the life you always dreamed of living.
I know that most of you would not even think about doing such a thing as climbing a mountain. Nevertheless, you can step out of your comfort zone by doing one thing that you have never done before. Even better, do one thing that you have always wanted to do but unrealistic fear has prevented you from doing it.
This is what I did in the early part of July. Wanting to step out of my comfort zone, I undertook the exciting venture of hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru. According to the itinerary supplied by G Adventures, the tour group I went with, the 4-day hike is “physically challenging but worthwhile.” It was also “within the ability of most reasonably fit.”
Well, I like to class myself as physically fit, plus I enjoy hiking up and down hills and mountains. So off I ventured, knowing that I was quite fit and able to endure to the very end. Boy was I wrong.
Climbing or, in my case, hiking a mountain is a challenge. Your expectations at the beginning of the journey are often immense. The adrenaline is flowing and you feel you can conquer anything. It is as you continue to ascent up, and the way gets steeper, that you realize how small and insignificant you are in comparison to the big, beautiful mountain you think you can conquer.
You learn a lot when you climb a mountain. You learn even more if you are unable to finish and have to come down defeated. That’s right I did not finish the 4-day hike. In fact, due to a number of things, including altitude sickness, I came back down on the second day. Needless to say I was not too thrilled, but I had accomplished an extraordinary goal and it not only lifted my confidence and boosted my self-esteem, but it let me know that change is possible if you give it a chance.
So, I am back and I’m here to let you know that you can eliminate unrealistic fear from your life. You can Kick Fear Now by taking one action step after another. That’s what I have been trying to do myself and it is what I am encouraging each one of you to do for yourself, even if you only accomplish one small action at a time. Yes, there will be setbacks along the way but it does not mean you give up. Instead, you just find another way to complete your goal.
One of the things I learned from my climb up the Inca Trail is that you can’t go up a mountain and not come down without a revelation. For many people it is a spiritual revelation, for others, a physical or mental revelation. The fact is the journey is yours. When you begin, only you know what you want to accomplish. Your experience is yours alone. Your revelation will open your eyes to the person you really are capable of being.
Removing unrealistic fear from your life is much like hiking a mountain. Conquering it begins with taking the first step. So find your mountain today, whatever your unrealistic fear is, and walk out of your comfort zone. You may be in for a big surprise.
One thing that scares me is writing this blog. I can come up with every excuse why I don’t need to write. “People don’t want to hear what you have to say.” “Nobody is going to read it anyway.” “What makes you the expert on this topic.” “Aren’t you supposed to be doing this, that, or the other.” Trust me I can find a thousand excuses to get out of doing something that I am afraid to do. Like me, I am sure that you can find plenty of things that scare you. You probably also make every attempt to avoid the pain and discomfort that comes with doing them.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do one thing everyday that scares you.”
When I thought about this for a moment I realized that this is exactly what we should be doing if we want to break the cycle of stagnation that comes from living a life that is controlled by unrealistic, irrational, unjustified fear. Like a yoke around an ox’s neck, unrealistic fear is burdensome and oppressive. It stirs up the past when you are trying to live in the present. It enjoys rehashing old things that are long gone, using them to stop you in your tracks, and from experiencing the change you so longingly desire.
In a Ladies’ Home Journal article, Free Yourself from Fear, Dr. Phil McGraw describes how we make so many wrong decisions when unrealistic fear dominates our life. Thankfully, he gives us 7 Steps to living a fearless life, one of passion and purpose. I have listed them below.
1. Decide what you really care about.
2. Examine where you are now.
3. Make a life decision.
4. Acknowledge your fears.
5. Challenge irrational fears.
6. Make it happen.
7. Get help.
The article, published in September 2008, was very instrumental in propelling me to write my first self-help book. I realized that if I did not do it then, I would never do it at all. Dr. Phil said, “The difference between dreams and goals is a time line and an action plan.” You have to take action, even if it is only one small, simple thing done each day. The key is to chip away at your fear until you shut it down. You control it, not the other way around.
In 3 days time we are going to end 2012 and step into 2013. Many of you are probably thinking about making some New Year Resolutions. I believe there is no time like the present to start taking action. Today, you can start by doing one thing that really scares you. Remember, a simple action, done consistently, always produces results. Why wait till January 1, 2013. Kick Fear Now!
Photographs by One World One Family @Just1Thought
To read the entire article: McGraw, Dr. Phil. Free Yourself From Fear, Ladies’ Home Journal, September 2008: http://www.lhj.com/health/stress/relaxation-techniques/free-yourself-from-fear/?page=1
Let go of the past and go for the future. Go confidently in the direction of your dreams… Live the life you imagined.
Henry David Thoreau
There is a program that the military is using to help soldiers cope with their bad memories. The mission of “Operation Proper Exit” is to ferry small groups of wounded American soldiers to the places they had been maimed. The goal is to help these men and women “achieve psychological closure.” The Operation, referred to by Army surgeon Dr. John Olsen as “an important psychological step,” was started by a small foundation in Laurel, Maryland.
The program selects only the wounded that have already made “good progress in coping with their injuries.” According to a New York Times article the hope for these wounded soldiers “is that returning to places many of them left while unconscious or in agony might reassure them that their losses have been worth it.” For the groups of men that have already returned to their combat zones the Operation seems to have worked. For many, the trip secured some form of closure, developmental growth, release of the burden of guilt, and even an end to night terrors.
Unrealistic fear relies on old thoughts that you regurgitate over and over inside your head. It feeds on negative experiences from the past and makes you relive them. Fortunately, the past is gone and nothing about it applies anymore. You must put a new mental image in your thoughts, an image that shows you as the person you want to be, living the life you want to live.
One of the soldiers who returned to Iraq with Operation Proper Exit commented on the silence he found upon arrival. The noises he had experienced while he was in combat – the mortar shells and the distant sounds of exploding roadside bombs – were no longer to be heard. Things had changed since he was last there.
This is exactly how you’ll feel when you revisit the scene of your negative experiences for the very last time. You’ll experience total silence because the episode has long been over. You’ll also find peace, because you’ve accepted your past and have moved on to something new and exciting. Putting the past behind isn’t easy but with care, time, and patience, it can be done.
Rob Norland, Wounded Soldiers Return to Iraq, Seeking Solace. New York Times, April 15, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/15/world/middleeast/15exit.html
Operation Proper Exit. The USO, http://blog.uso.org/tag/operation-proper-exit/
Troops First Foundation, http://www.troopsfirstfoundation.org/int_exit.php
The world needs you, and I don’t necessarily mean the world at large. I am talking about the world that you influence. Someone’s life can be changed by you. You could be a teacher who impacts the life of a student you teach. That student could go on to do great exploits because of a sentence, a lesson or something as insignificant as the way you conducted yourself. You could be the service representative in a retail business that makes your customer feel so special that they go and forget how bad things are in their world. It does not matter who you are or where you are at this point in time, someone is waiting on you.
You do not know whose spirit you uplift just because you smiled at someone you passed in the street, on the subway or in the mall. You may not know it but when you said “good morning” the recipient had gone through a devastating ordeal, where sleep evaded them all night. Those two little words you spoke made them realize that things are really not so bad, especially in the light of day. Not only that, but someone’s heart will flutter when you come into their space and someone’s environment will become more bearable when you step into your purpose.
When you find your purpose in life then you become an instrument of change in your own life, your home, neighborhood, community, and eventually the world at large. Your presence and the energy you exude are contagious. Do not let your unrealistic fears stop you from being the influencer that you are supposed to be in this world. There are people in your sphere who are waiting on you to take action. The power of your will and the courage to do something is all you need to take the first step. So, no more hesitation, Kick Fear Now, and step into the life you have always dreamt of living.
The first step to living a fearless life is to know everything there is about your enemy.
“So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself,
you will fight without danger in battles.
If you only know yourself, but not your opponent,
you may win or may lose.
If you know neither yourself nor your enemy,
you will always endanger yourself.”
Sun Tzu, The Art of War
The second step to living a fearless life is to know everything about you.
“Nothing can work me damage except myself;
the harm that I sustain I carry about with me,
and never am a real sufferer but by my own fault.”
The third step to living a fearless life is to know your purpose.
“We have all we need to become what we are, our perfect selves. All we need to do to realize it is to recognize it, develop it and live it in action… We are no longer puppets being manipulated by outside powerful forces; we become the powerful force ourselves.”
Louis Bascaglia, Personhood: The Art of Being Fully Human
The fourth step to living a fearless life is to have clearly defined, written-down goals.
“We need to be clear with our preferences, wants and desires, and not get seduced by the distortions exaggerated fear produces. We need to learn to postpone an impulsive reaction for another time, and to move ahead if the desire to procrastinate occurs.”
Ivan Kos, PhD, To Dare: It is Easier to Succeed than to Fail
The fifth step to living a fearless life is to love yourself and love your life.
“When all is said and done, it all boils down to love.
Love is a funny emotion. It’s one of the strongest of our emotions and yet so often we find ourselves searching everywhere for it. Unlike fear, love doesn’t show up as soon as something looks different. In fact, unless we learn how to love — which means to give love and appreciation, unselfishly, without expecting anything in return — we will never experience the kind of love and appreciation we so greatly crave.”
Pangeline J. Edwards, Kick Fear to the Curb.