“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”
The Strategy Guide
What is it that is changed when we learn to summon the will?
Certainly it’s nothing out there in the world. The world goes about its business just like it did yesterday, and every day previous.
It’s nothing to do with knowledge or skill or material circumstances. But something is changed, and that something is the most powerful idea in the world.
If I could give it a name, I would call it: identity. Somehow, by some miraculous stroke of insight we learn to see ourselves differently. We learn to look beyond the guise that has blinded us for so long. We catch a glimpse of our true nature; and behold…
It both terrifies and delights us.
It is thrilling and frightening at once.
The question for which each of us must someday find an answer:
“Can I find the courage to embrace who I really am?”
This page is about three things: freedom, fear and will to choose between them. It’s my chronicle personal expansion: the conquering of fear, and the reinvention of the self.
For those of us in the developed world, fear is the main obstacle to living an unconventional life or pursuing a different path. It doesn’t help to hear be fearless or go forth and conquer your fears because those fears are very real. Instead of trying to be fearless, it’s better to engage with fear. What are we really afraid of? What’s the big deal? Understanding the core of anything is always a good first step. The second step is to prevent fear from making our decisions, not by pretending it doesn’t exist but by acknowledging it and stepping out into the unknown anyway.
A lot of fear is left over from our more primitive days, originally designed to protect us from danger and death. So occasionally, it’s good, when it keeps you from leaping into sabertooth tiger mouths, for example. But these days, we live with so many comforts and luxuries—I’ve not run into that many sabertooth tigers—usually fear is just holding us back from decisions that we feel might be a threat, because they put us in a place where we’re unsure. This is what Seth Godin calls the lizard brain, it’s the fear of the unknown, of uncertainty, that prevents you from taking big risks for big rewards, making huge life changes, or putting yourself in a position where you might be embarrassed.
But if you want to fully experience the life you want, you must do those things! If something scares you, you should examine it, and frequently that is exactly the direction you should go with your life. Pretty much everything separating you from the life you desire can be summed up by the fear of the unknown. Only by challenging that fear on a consistent basis—every day—can you overcome it and do what you’re truly passionate about.
Fear to me is usually a conjuration of the mind. There is no physical evidence of any potential harm or misfortune to happen, but our minds try to convince us that something we want to do is unsafe.
That’s why most fears are passive assumptions. They’re beliefs or conclusions we have about something that has yet to be tested. Most of these we’ve picked up because we’re afraid of our image and what other people might think of us. They keep us small, and they hold us back.
So the first step is to only get approval from yourself. And the second step is to challenge your assumptions. Take some of the pressure off and be a scientist conducting an experiment for a while. Pretend you’re an explorer breaking new ground. Allow yourself to just let go of what you might think might happen and just see. This approach has helped me a lot in my life, and I recommend it to everyone that wants to live on their own terms.
When I was 16 I took an acting course in the city, taught by a famous acting instructor. I was from a small town and anything that involved the ‘big city’ left me starry eyed. Acting was a big dream and I was super excited bout this course.
I wasn’t prepared however, for the way the instructor taught the class. To make a long story short, he pretty much scared me shitless and I put acting out of my mind for fear of looking like a complete idiot like he made me feel.
Years later, even though I loved acting I wouldn’t even dream of trying it out – all because of what this man had said to me when I was 16! I was letting the opinion of a man who hardly remembered me affect my whole life. Funnily enough, when I was 24 the instructor’s wife (of all people) told me something that caused me to change my life. She said, “You only go down this road (of life) once. What are you going to do about it?”
It’s true isn’t it? You only live once… and what’s the worst that could happen anyway? I decided to go for an audition and at my very first audition I got the lead role in a new TV series and from there I went on to act in movies, TV series and the theatre. I have done a travel show for Discovery Travel and Adventure, a travel food show and countless other shows. Now I travel, direct, film and edit videos. Currently I am living in Nepal and in December I will move to Spain for a few months.
All this because whenever I feel fear, I say, “Hani, you only live once,” then I ask myself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” and if I find that I couldn’t live with the worst, I do it anyway, because seriously.. you only live once!
Fear dominated me for as long as I can remember, if fact, my earliest memories are of being afraid. Today, through many twists and turns on my own inward journey, I find myself in a place where the fears of my youth have largely left me alone. I can’t tell you exactly how I came to this place, because I don’t fully understand myself. But having crossed over something, I can tell you how the journey to smashing fear must begin—You must clearly acknowledge your fear and wish to be free from it. Speak openly of your fear… only then can you embark on the path to destroy it.
The best advice I’ve ever used to dominate fear is to get out of my head. I’ve heard it often and I tell people that often because it’s so simple, yet so powerful. Stop over thinking whatever it is you’re afraid of. Stop projecting what you think might happen in any given situation. You don’t know what’s going to happen until it happens. If something goes wrong deal it with it then. When you actually accomplish what you were afraid of once, it makes it a lot easier to accomplish something else you may be afraid of in the future.
A lot of people use fear as a crutch. A reason not to do something. A reason to run away. I like to do the opposite. I use fear as a tool. Scared of something? Good. Go do it. Use your fear as an indicator to make a life change. Fear of flying? Go skydiving. Fear of traveling? Travel somewhere. Scared of quitting the job you hate? Quit it. Yes it’s scary, but the scary adventures have a way of turning into epic adventures. Instead of running from your fears, try using them and see what happens.
Fear is your mind’s biggest lie. In today’s world, there are few things that are a real, honest threat to our lives. It’s natural and healthy—without it, we wouldn’t be human. But, it’s also like the appendix or the tonsils of the brain—useful at one time, but not so much anymore.
When I’m afraid to do something, it’s important that I ask myself why. What is the real danger here?
- Will I die?
- Will I go to jail?
- Will my family leave me?
If I can answer no to those three questions, then it’s probably something I should be doing.
It’s easy to deal with fear. Just don’t do anything that scares you and you’ll be all set. You will also live a boring life and not accomplish anything remarkable.
Smashing your fear comes down to making a conscious decision and commitment to fight it. What thing do you dream of doing but it scares you to death? Do it, now. If you can’t due to certain circumstances (needing to save money, etc.), which is usually the case, then make a public commitment to it. Hold yourself accountable and recruit a team of people who will do the same. Create a plan and set a deadline that can’t be abandoned. This is a strategy that has worked for me.
Fears close the doors that lead to experience and adventure. They block off entire sections of our life so that we shy away from experiences even slightly resembling what we are scared of. We let fear keep us in a padded cell and this is not the way to experience life. The brave ones are not people with no fears. They are simply people who chose to overcome them.
Explore your fears and then take steps to move past them. The secret is to feel the fear, and then spit in it’s face and do it anyway!
Overcoming your fear is not a destination. It is a journey of facing small battles one at a time. It is a journey of taking tiny steps until you are standing on the edge and have no choice but to jump off. Finding the strength to do the things that terrify you isn’t easy. Your stomach will do cartwheels and the lump in your throat will feel like a beach ball. In the end, the voice in your head that is telling you these lies about why your dreams are too scary will have to be put on mute.
Remember that most fears are not rational. We learn them. Fears are all in our head.
Banish them to the dark recesses of space and never let those thoughts bother you again!
To me, fear means that I’m doing something worthwhile. It means I am challenging myself. The adrenaline rush that comes from facing a fear is beyond exhilarating, and when it passes, you’ll realize you’re still standing.
Conquering that ever present fear that is gnawing and biting at your soul is the greatest accomplishment of all.