Perhaps the greatest challenge you will ever face in life is the conquest of fear and the development of courage. Fear is, and always has been, the greatest enemy of mankind. When Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” he was saying that the emotion of fear, rather than the realty of what we fear, is what causes us anxiety, stress, and unhappiness. When you develop the habit of courage and unshakeable self-confidence, a whole new world of possibilities opens up for you. Just imagine-what would you dare to dream or be or do if you weren’t afraid of anything in the whole world?Develop the Habit of Courage
Fortunately, the habit of courage can be learned just as any other habit is learned, through repetition. We need to constantly face and overcome our fears to build up the kind of courage that will enable us to deal with the inevitable ups and downs of life unafraid. The starting point in overcoming fear and developing courage is to look at the factors that predispose us toward being afraid. The root source of most fear is childhood conditioning, usually associated with destructive criticism. This causes us to develop two major types of fear. These are the fear of failure, which causes us to think “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t,” and the fear of rejection, which causes us to think “I have to, I have to, I have to.” Our fears can paralyze us, keeping us from taking constructive action in the direction of our dreams and goals.
The More You Know, the Less You Fear
Fear is also caused by ignorance. When we have limited information, our doubts dominate us. We become tense and insecure about the outcome of our actions. Ignorance causes us to fear change, to fear the unknown, and to avoid trying anything new or different. But the reverse is also true. The very act of gathering more and better information about a particular subject increases our courage and confidence in that area. You can see this in the parts of your life where you have no fear at all because you know what you are doing. You feel competent and completely capable of handling whatever happens.
Analyze Your Fears
Once you have identified the major factors that cause you to feel afraid, the next step is to objectively define and analyze your personal fears. At the top of a clean sheet of paper, write, “What am I afraid of?” Remember, all intelligent people are afraid of something. It is normal and natural to be concerned about your physical, emotional, and financial safety and that of the people you care about. A courageous person is not a person who is unafraid. As Mark Twain said, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence of fear.”
Begin your list of fears by writing down everything, major and minor, that causes fear, stress, or anxiety. Think about the parts of your work or personal life where your fears might be holding you back or forcing you to stay in a job or relationship in which you are not happy. Once you have written down your fears, arrange them in order of importance, and then pick them apart one by one. Brian Tracy