Is Fear Fucking Up Your Life?

September 19, 2010

If It Makes You FlyIf you keep putting things off, because you’re scared shitless, it’s easy to avoid the cold hard truth. Your life will be over in the blink of an eye, and if you don’t grab the opportunity, it will be gone forever.

But it’s rarely the actual act you fear, it’s the consequences. Most of us spend way too much time worrying about shit that might happen, instead of considering the possibility that things may just turn out amazingly well.

What Death Can Teach Us about Fear

Dr Elizabeth Kubler Ross devoted her life to working with dying patients. And she used what she learned to educate the living on how to live. Not once did she speak to a dying patient who regretted the things they’d done. Their only regrets were not doing the things they wanted more than anything, before it was too late.

But I’m not here to lecture you about risk and fear – that would be hypocritical. You see, although I’ve improved a lot over the years, I’m still a wimp when it comes to facing my own fears. And the more I want something the more terrified I become.

Avoiding Risk Robs You of Time – And You’ll Never Get It Back

Sometimes the thought of a negative outcome has stressed me out so much, that I’ve avoided taking risks at all. I’ve stayed in bad relationships because I was afraid to end them. Doing that for a year or two is bad enough, but 17 years is complete stupidity. The trouble is, when you end a relationship, what you really fear is the unknown.

And I’ve put off doing things I wanted to do, and focused on what I thought I had to do. For years, I was afraid to become a full-time writer, because it was easier to focus on what other people wanted me to do.

I was so scared of failure that I was always looking for a back up plan. But the problem with Plan B is that it tends to suck up most of your time.

You know, the only times I’ve felt truly happy, is when I’ve said – Fuck it, I’m going to stop worrying and take a risk. And my only regrets were not doing what I feared way sooner.

Some Numbers That Might Scare You into Action

If I’d known what I know now:

- I would have left that bad relationship when I was 19 – instead I waited until I was 35.

- I would have focused on writing full-time in my twenties, instead of waiting until I was 41.

Of course, these are not my only mistakes. I’ve let fear get the better of me more times than I care to remember. But I tell you none of this to complain. I just want you to understand how much of your life you waste when you let your fears beat you.

The more times you are able to face your fear, and just do it anyway, the easier it is. But, it’s still bloody hard. And the more you want something the tougher it gets.

So how do you get from where you are to where you want to be, without terrifying yourself into not even trying?

You Have to Understand How Short & Fragile Your Life Is

When you’re young, the end of your life doesn’t seem real. It feels too far away to even worry about. And it’s a shame because if you realised how fast your life is going to whiz by, you’d be less likely to fritter most of it away.

“It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth – and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up, we will then begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.”

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

7 Steps to Overcoming Your Fears


1) Focus on your goal
– instead of worrying about shit that could go wrong.

2) Don’t be afraid of failure
– No matter how scared you are, it’s unlikely that you have only one chance to get it right. If you trip up, get up off your ass and try again.

3) Listen to your instincts – Try to get used to listening to your own instincts, before you start worrying too much about the consequences. If you have a gut feeling that something is right, it usually is.

4) Ignore well meaning advice – it is often clouded by other people’s fears and judgements. When I spectacularly sank my third business, plenty of people advised me to get a job.

Looking back, it was crazy because one fuck up out of three isn’t bad. But I
wasted a good couple of years, feeling torn between what I wanted to do, and
what other people thought I should do.

5) Spend more time with positive people who are not afraid to take risks
– If
everyone around you is apathetic and afraid to make positive changes, it’s
going to rub off on you – no matter how strong you think you are.

6) Don’t Be A Martyr:
It’s easy to become a people pleaser – I’ve been there. But you’re only here once, and you should never let anyone suck the life out of you.

If these people really cared about you, they wouldn’t expect you to sacrifice your hopes and dreams to fit in with their plans, or make their life easier.

7) If You Want To Do Something – Just Do It.
“Live so you don’t have to look back and say: ‘God, how I have wasted my life.’” Dr Elisabeth Kubler Ross.

Image Credits

Feel The Fear (If It Makes You Fly) – by Ibrahim Lujaz.

Related Reading

Life Problems – Is It All Your Own Fault?
Swimming Naked, Biscuits And Sex on A Plane
Would You Jump Off A Cliff To Find Out?
You Can Overcome Lack Of Self Confidence

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Comments

17 Responses to “Is Fear Fucking Up Your Life?”

  1. Davina Haisell on September 19th, 2010 11:12 pm

    Amen! Most of the time, the things we worry about never come to pass, too. And then… if we do stop to consider something, seems to me that we allow it to stop us if we don’t believe in ourselves enough to trust that we will handle it. I think it’s natural to consider what “might” happen but I know from my own experience that it can stop there, when in fact, it could go beyond that. Considering what could go wrong can be followed with a contingency plan rather than tossing out the idea all together.
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  2. Tweets that mention Is Fear Fucking Up Your Life? | Catherine Lawson -- Topsy.com on September 19th, 2010 11:14 pm

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  3. Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach on September 20th, 2010 12:21 am

    Fear also has wisdom to teach you. The challenge is being mature enough to recognize and learn from it (something that took me decades to internalize).

    And you’re only 41? A mere babe you are! :)

    Love your point 7, btw – it’s similar to what I always tell me kids, Just Freakin’ DO IT!
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  4. Linda on September 20th, 2010 12:41 am

    Hi, this is my first time here. I want to say how much I enjoyed this post. This is the kick in the pants that some of us need to get going. Thanks for reminding us that all will not fall apart if we take a chance.

  5. vered on September 20th, 2010 2:51 am

    Powerful, Cath, and I agree with every word. Thank you for this.

  6. J.D. Meier on September 20th, 2010 7:02 am

    > avoiding risks robs you of time and you’ll never get it back
    Now those are some powerful words … and so true.

    I always carry around an extra can of whoop-arse in case fear hops in front of my goals.
    J.D. Meier\’s latest awesome post..Top 10 Lessons on How to Make a Living on the InternetMy ComLuv Profile

  7. cathlawson on September 20th, 2010 8:51 am

    Hi Davina – True. It’s the stopping to consider part that can really stop us from making progress – especially if we overthink. A contingency plan is good.

  8. cathlawson on September 20th, 2010 8:53 am

    LOL – Thanks Barbara. :) Learning from it is hard. Sometimes, it can be difficult just to admit that you’re afraid.

  9. cathlawson on September 20th, 2010 8:55 am

    Hi Linda – Thanks for dropping by. And I’m glad my post helped.

  10. cathlawson on September 20th, 2010 8:56 am

    Thank you Vered – you are welcome :)

  11. cathlawson on September 20th, 2010 8:56 am

    LOL JD – Those cans of whoop ass are getting popular.

  12. Nadia Ballas-Ruta ~ Happy Lotus Lifestyles on September 20th, 2010 4:47 pm

    Hi Cath,

    Excellent post! You are talking my language! I love all of it.

    Here is my take on fear: it is like a bully. Don’t give it more attention than it deserves. If it has anything usual to say, just take that part and toss out the rest. Fear is an illusion that is not worth paralyzing our lives for because ultimately…life is short!
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  13. Hilary on September 21st, 2010 9:24 am

    Hi Cath .. how true … I faced the fear earlier in the year .. and things are now working out .. over the years I, too, have had challenges – but they pass .. and probably pass more easily if we get on with it.

    We can look back – but we’ve learnt .. and quite honestly if we’d done those things then – we wouldn’t be here now .. and you know I’m glad I’m here with the things I’ve experienced under my belt – the future looks rosy .. and it’s great we have knowledge to draw on ..

    Facing the fear .. and pushing it back where it belongs, so you control your life is so important .. have a great week .. Hilary
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  14. Andrew Heaton on September 21st, 2010 12:33 pm

    Great advice, Cath.

    One aspect about fear which I find interesting is that once you take action, things are never as bad as you thought they might be.

    One example. Recently, I have had a go at scuba diving. At first, I was petrified about the thought of getting into water above my head height – though I am a reasonable swimmer. But once I got under and got going, I found there was nothing to worry about at all.
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  15. Wendi Kelly on September 22nd, 2010 3:41 pm

    Great post Cath, (So you got up the courage to write about fear huh, Yay!)

    Here is what I know at fifty. Things are going to suck no matter what. So…you might as well follow you dreams and have the sucky things come along while you are having a blast living your life doing the things you want to do and making your life turn out the way you want!!!

    Am I being negative? Hell no! I’m telling the truth. We don’t change because even though we are miserable in our suckiness, it’s suckiness we are familiar with. We fear the darkness of the unknown. Well, it’s all the same general life stuff that happens out there. Things break, people get sick, let us down and the world challenges us on our way to greatness. It’s our job to get up every day, keep going, be persistent and move forward.

    Might as well do that being happy and forget all that useless fear!
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  16. Karen Swim on September 23rd, 2010 3:04 am

    Cath, great, honest post. The thing about fear is that the more you allow it rule you, it becomes the dominant force in your life. Your world can begin to shrink and you don’t even realize that fear colors all your decisions not just the big scary ones. Fear is natural, but sometimes you have to feel it and do it anyway – not advised for running into traffic, but great for living life to the fullest!
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  17. Steve Errey on September 26th, 2010 10:49 am

    Nicely said Cath. I think the a big part of the problem is when you think that being scared is a problem. Think of fear as a hurdle or a sign that something’s wrong or difficult and it’ll be all the more difficult to do something.

    Fact is, fear only matters if you decide it does. Don’t focus on beating fear, instead just put your focus on what matters.
    Steve Errey\’s latest awesome post..5 Massive Signs that You’re Over-ConfidentMy ComLuv Profile

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