Learn To Love Your Fear
Written by Bryce Smith
What Is Fear?
For some people, fear is a muscular sensation of adrenaline that moves through the vascular system, which gives us a fight or flight response. For others, fear is like a deer in headlights, which can be described as being immobile or having a dissociation of consciousness. In modern day society we often associate fear with too much instability or uncertainty. Fear typically occurs when we do not know the outcome, fear of the unknown, fear of a known threat, or fear of pain. Our body is always striving for homeostasis, a level of balance and consistency, and so to combat fear, our mind becomes conservative. It takes us to that all too familiar “comfort zone” where there are proven results of being safe. The thing between our ears convinces us to maintain a simple life by repeating patterns that have proven desired results. Examples may include driving routes you take, food you eat, clothing you wear, rituals you partake in, the amount of reps you know you can do, or the speed you know you can run or row. You really never know how far you can go unless you test your limits, but this thing called fear corners us in a dark room and does not allow us to maximize our potential.
What happens when changes occur to those natural habits? Your mind goes haywire. You may initially fail some reps or get gassed a bit quicker during metabolic conditioning, but in the long run, you are getting better. Self improvement is what many of us are after in CrossFit, but we limit ourselves when we decide to do what we already know we can do. We are used to doing A and getting B! When we are not in control of our own life experience, our body characterizes it as the unknown, and fear sets in because it has been detected as a threat or danger. So now that we conceptually understand the feeling of fear, lets dig a little deeper and learn how to love our fear.
Stop Holding Yourself Back
Most people are afraid to go for it. They play it safe and say, “No, no, no, we’re not okay, don’t go for it.” The voice in your head that says that you can’t do something is a liar! You only get one life, and one chance to be everything you ever wanted. No limits – what we overcome often builds the bridge to survival. Survival rooted by strength will make your weaknesses vanish. If it is challenging, it should be. It’s supposed to be challenging. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The challenge is what makes it great. The challenge is what keeps the chase alive! Don’t ever let your fears beat you – beat them to the punch.
Steve Jobs is famous for saying, “Remembering you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” Most people do not get within arms distance of their dreams. The world would be a much better place if people would achieve their dreams. This inability to reach ones dream is caused primarily by fear. Could you imagine all the things that could be? The advances in technology, literature, music, society, and overall knowledge could be so much further along if it weren’t for fear. Paolo Coelho, author of The Alchemist once said, “Fear is the only thing that can stop a person from achieving their dreams.”
Many people in this world fear failure. But is it failure that they truly fear or is it the scrutiny that comes with failure? Fear can keep you from taking advantage of amazing opportunities that can enhance your life. Taking a chance on an additional rep or pushing passed the perceived thought that “you have nothing left,” could be the difference between winning, losing, growing, or staying the same. Failing is one of the best tutors in life and in CrossFit.
Consider the story of a new bank president who went to meet his predecessor. Upon being introduced he quickly said, “I would like to know what have been the keys to your success.” The older man looked at him for a moment and replied, “Young man, I can sum it up in two words: Good decisions.” To that the young man replied, “I thank you immensely for that advice, sir, but how does one come to know which are the good decisions?” “One word, young man,” replied the old man. “Experience.” “That’s all good and well,” said the young executive, “but how does one get experience?” “Two words,” replied the old man, “Bad decisions.” This story can directly relate to CrossFit. How do you know if you can do 150 wall balls unbroken unless you try? Eliminate self limiting beliefs, conquer perceived limitations, and trample your fear. On your journey you will make many decisions; some good, and some bad. But all will help you get one step closer to maximizing your potential.
As kids we use specific language of “I will,” when we talk about our futures. We say, “I will be an (insert super cool job here) when I grow up.” In time as we get older we are educated about the hoops we must jump through in order to achieve that particular dream. Then once we begin tip toeing towards adult life we begin using terminology like “if” rather than when, and “possibly”, “might”, “someday”, “maybe”. which gives little certainty and before we know it, fear has smacked us right in the face. I recommend learning to love your fear. Your fear will help push you to the point of doing something so whole-heartedly that you will leave no regret on the table. This way you can look yourself in the mirror and truly know that you did your absolute best to maximize your potential. In many cases even if you fail to reach your goal, you will find yourself headed down an even better path that you may not have reached had you stayed on the fear trail. Fear defeats more people than any other thing in the world. Always remember, fear is nothing more than an obstacle that stands in the way of progress. In overcoming our fears, we can move forward stronger and wiser within ourselves because everything we want is on the other side of fear.