Friedrich Nietzsche has famously expressed in his book “Twilight of the Idols” this sentiment: what doesn’t destroy us, makes us stronger.
1. Understand that Everyone Has Fears
Regardless of our strengths, circumstances and abilities, we all have things that we’re afraid of. Thomas S. Monson has said:
Remember that all men have their fears, but those who face their fears with dignity have courage as well.
Sometimes, we isolate ourselves because of our anxiety, feeling that we are alone and that no one else understands our plight. Even though we may each have different sources of worry and trepidation, being scared is a natural human emotion that we can all relate to.
Reflect on your life and identify some things in the past you were afraid of but that ultimately turned out okay.
I can remember being terrified to start high school. Would I really be able to find all of my classrooms, to handle the workload, to make some friends? Looking back, all these years later, I can chuckle about those concerns. It seemed like such a big deal to be late to class, to not have finished a homework assignment and to sit alone awkwardly. By the time I made it to college, I didn’t care if I sat alone during class or if, having tried my best, a problem on the homework was just too difficult for me to understand. I was comfortable with myself and I no longer had the same insecurities as I did in my teens.
Part of learning how to embrace your fear is to recognize that, in time, the severity of any given fear will likely decrease. Even if something feels deeply concerning now, in a few years you might not even remember what you were so afraid of. Take comfort from remembering the times that you were scared but succeeded anyway. Jeffrey R. Holland has said:
In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited.
Once you’ve overcome a specific fear, you never have to let that concern trouble you again because you know you’re capable of facing the situation triumphantly.
2. Realize that Persevering Regardless is the Only Way for Success
Dr. Phil McGraw has poignantly taught that “the difference between winners and losers is that winners do things losers don’t want to do.”
If you want the results, you have to pay the price. If you want your book published by a given company, you have to be willing to risk the chance of getting your writings rejected. If you want to turn a friendship into a dating relationship, you have to accept that things might not turn out the way you want them to. Accepting the possible consequences and appropriately proceeding after your dreams anyway is the formula for achieving success.
Letting your fears dictate your choices is paralyzing–and so is justifying your weaknesses. Even if something like public speaking is a real fear for you and a non-issue for someone else, making excuses for yourself as to why you can’t succeed like someone else can is pointless. Such justifications won’t get you any closer to your dreams. Stop coming up with reasons why it’s okay for you to sit out on the stage of life and just start trying.
I love the concept that to make an omelette you have to break some eggs. Your pride may get hurt a time or two in the process of reaching your goals. Sometimes you’ll fall down and experience various types of setbacks and discomfort, but if you want to win, you just keep at it.
3. Recognize What You’re Really Afraid Of and Let Those Concerns Actually Enable You
When you realistically evaluate your fears, you can often identify that what has been keeping you from living out your dreams is an illogical thought process.
You want to sing, but you’re afraid that people might not like your voice so you’re afraid to put yourself out there. However, without even trying, the fanbase you want to obtain won’t even know who you are. If you try and succeed, then your mission is accomplished. If you try and they don’t like you, you may be able to learn from the experience in order to fine-tune your craft and one day deliver the goods. If you don’t try, you’ll never get any better and you’ll also never know whether you should move on or not from such an interest.
If you want to be a singer, the only way to accomplish that is to step up to the plate and sing. Your fear comes from your true passion of wanting to be good, and the only way to prove that you’re good and to get better is to actually try.
Similarly, a fear of rejection when it comes to dating stems from a desire to really be loved just like a fear of having others look down on your accessorizing comes from the desire to be perceived as fashionable.
Until you try, you’ll continue to fail. Recognize this correlation and put forth the effort required to actually follow your dreams.
James Neil Hollingworth, under the pseudonym Ambrose Redmoon, said it well:
Cowardice is a serious vice. Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than one’s fear. The timid presume it is lack of fear that allows the brave to act when the timid do not. But to take action when one is not afraid is easy. To refrain when afraid is also easy. To take action regardless of fear is brave.
We all have our worries, but we can learn how to embrace fear so that we can finally uncover our true passions in life. We can use this powerful emotion to help stir us into activity, creating the courage and strength needed to overcome the odds and to see positive results.