Mastering fear is not about becoming physically stronger, or tougher, or more macho, or more aggressive, or more stoic, or more pumped up. It is about learning how to identify and change the conversation in your head.
Let me ask you a question: What are you afraid of? I don’t mean “concerned” or “a little nervous.” I mean genuinely terrified.
Yes, it’s a cliché, but like most clichés, there’s more than a kernel of truth to it: men are
famous for being unwilling to stop and ask for directions. Why? I have no idea. To me that seems like the height of arrogance. How is it a sign of weakness to seek out the voice of experience and consult people who know something you don’t know?
Making bold decisions does not mean throwing caution to the winds. There is a razor-sharp line between bold and foolhardy. They may look similar. They are opposite. Being foolhardy is acting on all posture and bluff. That’s not bold: that’s just being
stupid. The truly bold never throw caution to the winds; they steep themselves fully in the wisdom of caution, and then make the decision to move forward in the full awareness not only of all the dangers involved but also of their own capacities and limitations.
whatever the act is
that commits you to a certain path, things will not go according to plan. If you believe that BS about practice making perfect, then you’ll be taken completely by surprise when you launch into action and perfection is nowhere in sight.
Whatever it is you fear, make no mistake: when it comes time to actually jump off the cliff, you are jumping off a cliff, with all the terror that comes with it. No training can change that. What it can change is what you do with the electric charge that moment of terror produces.
Practice does not make you impervious to fear; it gives you the tools to fall back on
in that moment of maximum stress. Adequate rehearsal builds in a functional alternative to panic.
Here are three key steps you can use to master the practice of mental rehearsal, as applied to any and all areas of your life. LISTEN. Pay attention to your thoughts. Start consciously noticing your inner monologue and becoming aware of what the voice in your head is saying. (Everyone has one.) When you’re alone, if possible, speak those thoughts out loud, without filtering or editing them. Whatever’s going on in there, just vocalize it, let it spill. You may be startled at what you hear.
REFRAME. When you catch yourself in a negative spin, take the time to sort through and figure out what you would like to be thinking.
FOCUS. It isn’t enough simply to reframe from a negative orientation to a positive one. Once you’ve got your positive frame, you also have to sharpen that picture, hone those thoughts like a razor, so that they send a clear and unambiguous message.
Instead, focus your thoughts like a laser. Identify the specific sequence of events, actions, situations that you want to put into play in your life, then walk yourself through that sequence in your mind, as concretely and clearly as you can.
have to “get out of your comfort zone,” this is basic bullshit. It’s like saying, “Just do it.” Well, great, but what if you can’t “just do it”? I can picture how effective that sniper training program would be: “Here’s a rifle, there’s the target way over there, okay? Now, just do it.”
(I love what Paulo Coelho says about this: “Haters are confused admirers.”)
But whether it’s one year left or fifty years left, what’s the difference? No life span is long enough to justify wasting a day of it listening to the bullshit. There will always be critics, always people who want to rain on your parade, bring you down, steal your dreams, or stop you from leaping forward. You can listen and believe it if you want. Or you can let go of it all and tune in to what’s important.
People who get stuck in their jobs, their careers, or whatever their present circumstances are, preparing, preparing, saying “Now’s not the time,” or “It doesn’t feel right yet,” or “I’m not quite ready yet.” Please, don’t make the same mistake. Don’t miss out on what could be the greatest experiences and opportunities of your life because you feel you’re “not ready.” I think this tragic mistake stems from a misunderstanding of the word “ready.” Ready does not mean you’ve removed all uncertainty. It doesn’t mean you’ve practiced to the point
where what comes next will be easy. It won’t be easy. No leap worth taking is easy. All ready means is you’ve suited up and mounted your horse. Now it’s time to ride.
As you master your fears, you’ll find that, like Crazy Horse, you can ask that question, “If I died today, would I be okay with that?” and answer truthfully: “Yes. It’s not my plan or my intention or my preference—but if I died right now, this minute? So be it.”
And then add: “Meanwhile, here I am!”
We all know someone who, based purely on their abilities and talents, should be more accomplished than they are, but they’ve painted themselves as the victim of life and internalized it to the point that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, the fabric of self-sabotage, mediocrity, and chronic underachievement. Afraid of success. Afraid of living. Jumping off is an affirmation of living. Really, jumping off is living.