“Come on sweetheart! Jump in!” My 4-year-old wasn’t convinced. This was her first time at the pool for the summer and she wanted to be like her older brother, running and jumping in.
Staring intently at the water’s surface and almost trembling, “I don’t think I want to right now.”
Normally I push my kids to try new things, but this time I elected to honor her request. She walked over to the steps and made her way in the more traditional way. A few minutes later, I watched her stand on the lowest step, where the water was at her waist, and jump forward without hesitation.
The plunge was all of seven inches, but it thrilled her all the same. She had never done it before and this was new territory.
“Daddy, daddy… did you see me jump?”
“Absolutely sweetheart. Are you going to try it again?”
“Nope! I’m going to the second step!”
On to the second… jump…third step…jump…by the end of the day she was flying off the edge and into watery bliss. What had originally kept her paralyzed with fear and away from the enjoyment she wanted, was now as easy as breathing. The fear was gone.
Fear is the most overused and generic diagnoses for failure or lack of success. If we find ourselves unable or unwilling to get something done, we automatically assume we must be afraid of something. With that in mind, we focus our energy on discovering which fear has us in its grips.
The quickest way out of this trap is to realize, fear does not grip us. We grip fear.
Fear and darkness are similar in their roles. Both of them are nothing by themselves. Darkness is the absence of light. Without light, darkness has no reference or meaning. Light makes darkness go away with only its presence.
Fear is the absence of belief. When we believe in our abilities and ourselves, fear has no meaning or relevance. When we turn our efforts to understanding our belief and away from finding a fear, we notice fears seem to disappear on their own.
If we set about looking for fears, we’ll find them. The issue of making them go away is complicated by our focus. What you focus on grows.
Einstein said that we can’t solve a problem with the same thinking that created it. We can’t rid ourselves of fears by focusing on fears. Fear is the absence of belief. Where you perceive fear there is something you don’t believe.
Fear of the dark. You don’t believe that you’ll be safe in the dark.
Fear of failure. You don’t believe people will respect you if you fail.
Fear of success. You don’t believe people will still like you if you succeed.
Pick what you think of as a fear and you can find the corresponding belief that makes it go away. Just like turning on a light makes the darkness disappear, belief renders fear obsolete. So let’s stop looking for our fears and spend our energy establishing our belief.
Our goal in any endeavor is to work within the belief that we already have and let it expand naturally through accomplishment. Look at the area in which you sense fear. Whether there is a distinct fear or not, ask yourself a question.
“What belief is lacking that causes this feeling?”
If it isn’t obvious, use this short belief exercise to help pinpoint where your belief slacks.
At the top of a sheet of paper, write the task, goal, whatever, to which you attach fear. Now at the bottom of the paper, write where you are in relation to that goal. For example, “I want to own a successful business” – at the top and “Working 60 hours per week for someone else” – at the bottom.
Take three minutes and write the big steps you’ll need to take in order to get from the bottom to the top. Don’t concern yourself with details of how, just record the mile-markers you need to pass on the way. Got it? Okay, here’s the good part.
Look at the list, starting at the bottom, and identify the first step that causes you fear. You’ll know when you’ve found it because of the sensation of discovery. Your body tells you how you’re feeling if you just pay attention. Find the fear by reading the step and asking, “Do I believe I can accomplish this?” If the answer is a resounding, confident “YES,” move on to the next.
When you find the one that causes your guts to ache or your head to swim, you’ve found your sticking point. Now that you’ve found it, take one step back to the last step you believed in. Your confidence to accomplish this step is high. Shift all of your focus here.
One point to make is the difference between the sensations of fear and anticipation. Until you heighten your awareness, they may seem like the same thing. Tune in a little deeper and identify if you feel excitement or dread. When you believe in your ability and the purity of the result, you’ll experience anticipation. The lack of belief in your ability or doubting the result gives you fear.
With your focus on a step you fully believe in, action becomes a default. Concern yourself with achieving what you believe, not in forcing yourself to do something you fear. Focusing on belief allows you to work in the light. With each step you take in belief, your level of belief raises automatically. Every action brings you closer, the light expands, and your view of the landscape changes.
By the time you reach the old edge of your belief, a whole new edge exists well beyond your previous limitations. What once brought fear is now seen clearly, because it is within the light of your belief. Soon, you’ll be running and jumping into a brand new life!