FOR THE LOVE OF RELATIONSHIPS – If it scares you, do it

Fear is scary. However, it is a gift that assists us with survival through listening to our instincts. Someone   who will not take no for an answer, an uneasiness about a certain babysitter or caretaker, a stranger offering unsolicited help in a dim lit, deserted parking garage or a person who gives off negative vibes in an elevator can be clues to danger. According to Gavin de Becker, the author of the book, the Gift of Fear and seasoned criminologist, opines that these situations are clues that our instincts are valuable, and we must act to protect ourselves.

Recently, I came across a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

Retiring, after being the founder and president of the Center for Relationship Education for 30 years, I have been concerned, and even fearful, of this seismic shift in my life rhythm. 

I explored this fear and discovered that fear can be synonymous with worry and anxiety. This kind of fear sometimes interferes with our boldness, confidence, or sense of adventure.  According to research, many individuals experience different fears every day such as a fear of failure, fear of the unknown, or fear of all sorts of negative outcomes. Sometimes the fear can be so intense, it can wreak havoc with our imagination rendering us emotionally paralyzed. Certainly, there are negative effects of fear, but there are also positives effects.

According to experts, fear guides our fight or flight responses and helps keep us safe. Fear heightens our senses and awareness keeping us alert and awake to danger. Fear contributes to self-discovery as we investigate the genesis of our fears. Fear contributes to a sense of community by examining who else might be experiencing a similar fear. A sense of encouragement flows out of learning life-lessons from others who have experienced similar fears. Fear can be positive if it moves us to be focused and concentrated. Overcoming our fears of the unknown forces us to have the confidence to be proactive, transcending the fear and rising above it. 

Sometimes fear increases our need for preparation and planning. This includes positive self-talk, encouragement, inspiration, goal setting, intentionality, tracking our progress and reading about others as we allow their stories to be a motivator. Fear prompts us to identify our choices and options, analyze them and then evaluate our best course of action. 

One strategy to overcome fear is to outline options exploring best case and worst-case scenarios. Experts tell us that the higher return of investment, the more of a motivator it is to overcome the fear of possible worst-case scenarios. 

Fear enables us to examine the barriers of what is holding us back. Barriers may include anxiety, inaction, need for control, defensiveness, fear of failure, living in comfort, uncertainty, the time and effort required, not having the proper skills or tools, or being overwhelmed. Other barriers include needing excessive details, risk-aversion, distrust, suspicion, exhaustion, emotional paralysis, instant gratification, lack of confidence, impatience, or need for safety and security.

Transforming our rhythms and breaking routines can be fearful and even stressful as we get out of our comfort zone. What we must do is reimagine ourselves, and have the courage to embrace our fears, explore possibilities and become adventure seekers. 

I am finding that the fear I am experiencing by retiring and breaking my life rhythm is that I must let go and have faith that all will be well as life unfolds. I will follow Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice and do one thing everyday that scares me. joneenmac@gmail.com