When I was a teenager, I was pretty much afraid of everything. Well not everything, but lots of things. It was an uneasy feeling, and it all stemmed from things I was uninformed on or had never been introduced to. Interestingly, things like public speaking, which my parents introduced me to very early on, didn’t scare me a lick. (To this day, I love public speaking, which is like the number one fear in the world.) Some fears arise from bona fide life experiences, but many arise from irrationality or simply not knowing something. So in my adult life, I have made it my mission to face my fears and expose myself to as much as I can, with a real emphasis over the past few years. Irrational fear bothers me, and I believe it prevents people (myself included) from “going for the gold” in their own lives. So let me detail a few of these for you.
As a young guy, I was afraid of tight spaces, bridges, bodies of water, and what people thought of me, to name a few. I was afraid of making a mistake, what would happen to me if I made said mistake, and not being in control. And as I sit here right now, I can tell you that I have gone from being afraid of almost everything to almost nothing. Not in a braggadocio way. In a freeing way. I didn’t like that feeling, so I went to work on me.
Sometimes I specifically sought out the fear, and sometimes the opportunity to face it simply presented itself. It was my choice if I ran the other way, or faced it dead on. Below are some of the actual ways that I have overcome the above examples.
1. Tight spaces-got on the subway with a zillion people to Estadio Azteca in Mexico City and to Yankees Stadium on game day. Got stuck in an elevator. With 10 people. Who just ate Mexican food. That solved that.
2. Bridges- Drove into a big storm over Lake Pontchartrain into New Orleans. That solved that.
3. Bodies of water- Got on a boat in the Gulf of Mexico where I couldn’t see land. Tried to outrun a storm. That solved that.
4. What people think of me-wrote an article that 30,000 people read and that at least 500 of those ridiculed. Created something weekly for the world to read. Put myself out there. Made myself vulnerable. That solved that.
5. Making a mistake-made a mistake. Actually, have made plenty of mistakes. Will likely make plenty more in life. Simple as that. Usually not the end of the world. That solved that.
6. Not being in control-traveled 35,000+ miles last year. Rode airplanes over the ocean. Rode an uber in Mexico City. Rode a taxi in New York City. Rode a boat into Venice, Italy. A train to Milan. That solved that.
I could go on and on, but here is the simple point I want to make. I like feeling free, as I am sure most people do, but it is something we all struggle with. And so often, fear (and irrational fear) owns us. I know I am a bit extreme with my examples above, but when I have a problem, I like to face it head on and get it solved. So these things were owning me for years, and I wasn’t going to let that continue.
Want some easier, more practical steps to get started? It’s doing something as simple as making a sales phone call. If that scares you, just pick up the phone. Face it. Worst case, you get cussed out. Best case, they’re super interested in what you are selling. Likely, somewhere in between, which makes it a non-event. Scared of trying a new food? Ask a friend or the waitress, and just order it. Worst case, it sucks. Afraid you don’t have anything to talk about with someone different than you? Just say “Hi”. That usually works for me.
I see and talk to loads of people who are afraid to try something new, talk to someone different than their clique, or get out of their comfort zone, among others. Let’s make a pact. Try something new this week. Especially if deep down you have been wanting to. It could be small step one to a much more enriching life.
Have a great week. – Benj
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