How Facing Fear Gives You Energy, Faith, and Power
I’ve got good news and bad news
“Strength comes from your struggle – when you learn to see your struggle as opportunities to become stronger, better, wiser. Then your thinking shifts from “I can’t do this” to “I must do this.” – Toni Sorenson
Ok, good news and bad news. I've got both. First, the good news. You can be whatever the fuck you want to be. Yes, I wrote fuck in the opening sentence, so I'm a loose cannon and it’s going to be one of those articles.
There are no limits to your potential (well, some limits, don’t start thinking you can fly or time travel). “No limits” is the cast-iron good news.
Now for the bad news: Everything you want is on the other side of fear, discomfort, and effort.
If you want a life less ordinary, if you want self-respect, if you want peace of mind, you’ve got to earn it.
Happiness comes at a price.
No one wants to hear this, I don’t even like to write it, but I can’t think of how this statement isn’t true.
I’m in my forties now and, apart from a few tragedies, I cannot think of anyone who hasn’t ended up with a life they don’t deserve, a life that hasn’t been created out of their behaviours, either running towards fear, discomfort, and effort or hiding away from them.
If you want the good stuff, you’ve got to be Andy Dufresne in Shawshank Redemption, willing to crawl through a sewer pipe of shit to get it.
This sounds very “Wake up and grind!” more than it is. I hate the word grind.
Life shouldn’t be a grind, at least, it doesn’t have to be.
Facing fear isn’t about “grinding”, it’s about meeting personal challenges head-on when they appear.
Life doesn’t get easier, you get harder by facing fear. That’s where the growth happens.
I’ve been immersed in personal development for nearly a decade; I’ve had therapy, I’ve hired performance coaches, I’ve gone to weekend seminars, I’ve read the books, I’ve said the affirmations, and almost all of it can be distilled down to this:
Face your fears.
It’s annoying because your fears are tailor-made to fuck with you. Whatever you’re afraid of is what you have to do.
But take heart, understand fear is a compass. Pay attention. Move towards it. It’s a sign you’re heading in the right direction. This is how you grow. It’s how you develop true confidence. It’s how you take your life from the gutter to the stars.
David Deida writes:
“Your fear is the sharpest definition of yourself. You should know it. You should feel it virtually consistently.” – David Deida
Facing fear is the foundation of all positive change.
The majority of your problems stem from the gap between who you are and who you know you can be. Perhaps even should be.
To bridge that gap, you must face fear.
What’s more, there is no hiding from it, you either suffer by facing fear or suffer by running from it. Choose your destiny.
Becoming “more” is no laughing matter. Poet Jagtar Singh Dhiman put it best when he wrote:
“It takes courage to bloom.” – Dhiman
It’s Dufresne back in the sewer pipe. But who wants to crawl through shit? I sure don’t. Once you’re comfortable, and you’ve achieved something, anything, it’s easy to make a compromise in your head. “That will do”, you’ll say. You get fed up with crawling through sewage so you convince yourself you’re done early.
Author and entrepreneur Kyle Eschenroeder wrote on this, saying:
“You might be going along doing pretty well in life. Things aren’t good and they aren’t bad. You’ve forgotten the things that excited you as a child, but you’ve also forgotten that you’ve forgotten them. You are the subject of Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb.” – Kyle Eschenroeder
Here’s a secret. Or at least, a mental model to help you: There is no standing still in life. You either go forward or slide backward. You either grow or recess.
Life is to be dominated, lest it dominates you.
It’s easy to stop trying because you feel comfortable. But life is like running up a down escalator, if you stop, you’ll be spat back out at the bottom.
This sounds exhausting, but again, this isn’t about “the grind” it’s about facing the fears between you and who you can be.
Look at it more like a very slow escalator. As long as you take a step up here and there, you’ll make it to the top.
Action, those steps on the escalator, the sewer pipe, whatever metaphor you want to use, is the answer. Moving forward will save you.
Self-respect is just the reputation you have with yourself. If you’re facing fears, taking steps, crawling through the sewage, no matter how slow, no matter how inefficiently, life will become easier.
Just because you’re struggling doesn’t mean you’re failing. It means you’re learning, growing, and rising.
So start. Make a list and start.
Do that uncomfortable presentation, follow that daunting hobby, ask that person out, and apply for that job.
Failure will come. Lots of it. But the more you fail, the more it shows you’re moving in the right direction. You cannot fail without showing up. Learn to love failure as a sign you’re moving up the escalator. Learn to become a fear-facing machine.
Everything you want is on the other side of fear, so go hunt it down. Love the process of failure, growth, and struggle, you’re claiming back what’s rightfully yours.