Eliminating the F.E.A.R. Factor
During one of his inaugural speeches, Franklin D. Roosevelt uttered the words, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." All these years later, those words continue to be applied to various scenarios, and Roosevelt could not have been more accurate. But what exactly is at the root of our fears? And more importantly, why do we allow those fears to dominate our lives, dictate our every move, and challenge all that we believe to be true?
As the New Year opens, many of us have set goals for ourselves, based on hopes and dreams of things we wish to achieve in the coming months. Some of us actually get going on these goals, taking initiative and discovering exactly what is required to propel ourselves to a new and better place in our lives. Yet some of us remain stuck, despite a desperate desire to change. This inability to move forward is usually due to some manifestation of fear.
One way to regard the fear factor is to think about the word itself. F.E.A.R. can be viewed as nothing more than an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real. Thinking back to childhood days, we can all remember that monster that lived under the bed, the one who would surely come out and get us the minute mom or dad turned out the bedroom light. We knew he was there because of the shadows his body cast in the night-light. In truth, the shadows were being cast by the shoes and clothes and stuffed animals we stashed under the bed; but the False Evidence Appeared Real to us in our child-like state, and we were inexplicably terrified.
So, it is in our adult life: we tend to interpret situations in a certain way, thereby creating fear where none needs to exist. Imagine being in the gym, and a huge bodybuilder is just finishing on the machine you are approaching. Your first thought might be, "His biceps are so much larger than mine. I'll bet he is so much stronger than I am; there's no way I can do what he just did! Never mind; I'll do something else." The False Evidence, the notion that he may be stronger than you, Appears Real, and the result is self-defeating.
Fear is indeed a powerful emotion; and the mind is a very powerful tool, drawing energy from what it perceives in its surroundings. How many of us have contemplated entering a bodybuilding competition, only to back out because we feared being the smallest one on stage? How many job interviews have we reconsidered, because we feared that the other applicants were more qualified? Much of this false evidence, as it turns out, is little more than a lack of confidence. We allow messages of negativity to consume us: self-criticism and self-doubt creep out of our subconscious into our fully-present minds. Before we even realize what is happening, we have convinced ourselves that this false evidence is in fact real, and we become paralyzed with fear.
Little did Mr. Roosevelt realize that having “nothing to fear but fear itself” would become such a vital message. When we fear the False Evidence, we seem to magnify whatever scenario is creating the emotion. Only by allowing ourselves to take a step back, to really examine what is before us, can we begin to craft a solution. It requires a tremendous amount of emotional fortitude to be honest with ourselves when we delve inside our minds. Being realistic is often a very difficult path to take. But concomitant with being realistic is the opportunity for self-appraisal, and therefore the chance to be kind to ourselves. Of course it is possible that the bodybuilder leaving your machine is stronger than you are; however, reminding yourself of the true evidence, that you are strong also, is of incredible value. Taking that step back and reconfiguring the F.E.A.R. Factor allows us to realize the potential within all of us.
Just as false evidence never holds up in a court of law, it should never be allowed to stand in the way of our progress. Trust what is deep inside your mind, that which you know to be true, and allow it to propel you in a new and powerful direction!
Written by: Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT