“Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Fear is never a reason for quitting; it is only an excuse.”
Norman Vincent Peale
I was feeling fear last night, more than usual. Before I started writing, I picked up a book near me called, Do It! Let’s Get Off Our Buts by Peter McWilliams and I read this:
Fear often forces us to let go of irrelevancies. We automatically focus on what’s most important, “and let the rest of the world go by.” When in a new situation, we want to focus on what’s central, what’s significant. Fear drives thoughts about whether or not grapefruit will be on sale right out of our awareness.
Fear, like many negative or “limiting” emotions can be a tool to help us focus. I need to focus. It is February and there are only seven months until September. I have goals posted on my wall that I have to work on. More than ever I want my house by the beach. I need to get my financial life in order. There are things in my life I need to complete. There are thing I need to do.
My hope is that I can use my fear as adrenaline. I used to do stand-up comedy. My first night, on an “open-mic” night, was scary, but I did well. I did so well in fact that after performing for 15 minutes, the manager, who didn’t crack a smile the whole time, told me to keep going. I did. Finally I stopped and the manager told me to follow her to her office. In the tiny, cluttered space that was her office she pulled out a calendar and said, “This is February. Can you be ready to do a 90-minute show in May?”
I don’t remember my reaction at that moment. I may have thought that I misunderstood. Why would she offer me a 90-minute show after one performance? Who does that? Apparently she did, because that’s what happened. So every two weeks I went back to the open-mic and I practiced. Some nights were good. One was not very good and the rest were okay. But I got a little better every time. When I did my show in May, it was one of the best experiences of my life.
Today I was reminded of two things:
1. Many of my fears are unrealized, including the fear that I won’t survive if my fears are realized.
2. Fear is just another way the Enemy keeps me from writing.
While dealing with some particular fears, I noticed that they weren’t as strong as they have been in the past. I also realized that I can use the energy of fear to push me towards my goals. I really want that house by the beach. I also want to reach my written goals. I like being single-minded. I like having big goals and big plans. I like having exciting things to anticipate. It’s my favorite way of living life.
Increasingly, I understand the power of Purpose and the power of action. Together I think they are an unbeatable combination. The last few days have been painful and scary, but I survived them and came out stronger. The worst part of most difficulties isn’t always the difficulties themselves, but the fear we attach to them. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was preciscent when he said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
That’s what I’m afraid of more than almost anything else. I’m afraid that fear or sadness or depression will overtake me and that I will never experience joy again. But I don’t think that fear will be realized either. Here’s what I do think:
· I think I’ll be living in my house by the beach within a year.
· I think focusing on that goal will be extremely exciting.
· I think the more I focus on my goals, the less time and energy I will have for fear.
· I think I have a lot of work to do.
· I think I need to write out a plan.
· I think I need to Get Started and Keep Going.