Be real with me.
Do you have any enemies in your life?
Before you answer though, let’s be really clear about something.
I’m not talking about someone who “annoys you” or someone who you don’t like hanging out with.
I’m talking about a real enemy.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s define an enemy as something or someone who actively opposes your interests.
So, now that we have that definition, here’s the question again:
Do you have any enemies in your life?
If you said “no,” I hate to tell you this, but it was a trick question.
Of course you have an enemy.
No matter how nice or positive of a person you are, believe me, you have one. So do I. We all do.
To make matters worse, this is an enemy who is extremely dangerous and wants nothing more than for you to live the most pitiful and pathetic existence imaginable.
We might have run from this enemy in the past, but as of today, we’re done running.
It’s time to gear up for the biggest fight of our lives.
Introducing the Enemy
So, who or what is this enemy?
It’s something that you and I know very well.
Yes, fear is a very real enemy, and there’s little doubt that if left unchecked, it will “actively oppose your interests” in every possible way.
Just to be clear, this is not about healthy fears that stop you from jumping out of your 2nd story bedroom window only using a bedsheet as a parachute (not that I’ve…umm…ever tried that). Like I said, those are healthy fears that keep us alive.
This also isn’t about irrational fears like full-blown phobias.
If you’re wondering what the difference is between fear and phobia, hopefully this simple example will help:
If you have a fear of grizzly bears, it’s very possible that you’ll run away screaming if you ever saw one nearby. However, if you have a phobia of grizzly bears, you might have the same reaction if you were at an amusement park and saw a park employee dressed up in a Yogi Bear costume.
If it’s cool with you, I’m going to leave the phobia stuff for the medical professionals.
What I do want to talk about are our everyday fears that can be reasoned with and dealt with.
And dealing with those everyday fears is an absolute must.
Make no mistake about it, the overall quality of our lives will be determined in large part by our willingness (or unwillingness) to deal with the discomfort of fear.
These are the fears that keep us in a soul-decaying job where we’re bullied on a daily basis because we’re afraid to start over in a brand new job.
These are the fears that keep us in toxic relationships when we know that we should have walked away a long time ago.
These are the fears that keep us in a pattern of wishing for a better life without actually taking the necessary action to do something about it.
Please trust that our best lives will never come by running from our fears.
We have to be courageous instead.
Sounds hard, doesn’t it?
It actually may be simpler than you think.
Feel the Fear
Oftentimes, in my line of work, I often hear people talk about “playing it safe.”
I’ve always hated that phrase, because it’s such a sad way to go through life.
Nothing meaningful in this world’s history has ever been accomplished by “playing it safe.”
Seriously, let’s really think about this for a minute.
Think about the greatest success or achievement that you’ve ever experienced in your life so far.
I’d be willing to bet that it involved some sort of risk, it involved feeling some fear, and most importantly, it involved you still taking action anyway.
That’s what courage is all about: Feeling the fear and still doing the damn thing anyway.
If you’ve ever entered a college classroom in your 30’s or 40’s, that took courage.
If you’ve ever walked away from a toxic relationship and refused to look back regardless of how lonely you felt, that took courage.
If you’ve ever stood up to give a presentation at an all-staff meeting despite the fact that your knees were shaking and your palms were sweaty, that took courage.
If you’ve ever walked into a gym for the first time in years to get yourself back in shape, regardless of how awkward you felt, that took courage.
If you’ve ever opened your heart to someone else after your previous significant other stomped all over it, that took courage.
If you ever looked in the mirror with tears in your eyes and said “I matter” after years of putting yourself last, please believe that took courage.
When it comes to living our best lives, I believe that courage may be the most important interpersonal trait to master.
Because fear isn’t going anywhere.
There is no amount of hiding, running, wishing, or “playing it safe” that will make fear go away.
The only way to deal with this enemy is by hitting it right between the eyes with the only force in the world that can stop it in its tracks:
Just to be clear, courage is not the absence of fear. There is no such thing as being “fearless,” regardless of what you might have heard in the movies.
Being courageous means one thing only: feeling the fear and doing the damn thing anyway.
Each time that you confront fear, its grip over your life loosens. And each time fear loosens its grip, you get even more freedom to live your best life.
There may be times where “playing it safe” will make sense, but please believe that living our entire lives “playing it safe” will only leave us looking back at our lives with sadness, disappointment, and deep regret that we didn’t do more with our lives when we had the chance.
Do not give the most precious gift that you have (aka, your life) to your most hated enemy.
Choose courage instead.
Inside of the Cave
I read an amazing quote the other day on Facebook and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.
Inside of the cave that you fear, lies the treasure you seek.” -Unknown
This quote really hit home for me because it’s so true.
Every treasure (finding true love, working in an exciting job, getting back into shape, starting your own business, etc.) will require you to “enter the cave” in order to get it.
Most of you already know this, but for years I dreamed of starting my own blog about making the world a more positive place.
Without a doubt, The Positivity Solution is my personal treasure.
The thing is, in order for me to retrieve that treasure, I had to find the courage to enter the cave that I feared.
Inside of that cave lived my self-doubt, my fear of haters, and every possible inadequacy that I could think of.
“I’m not good enough.”
“No one cares about what I have to say.”
“People are going to laugh at me and say that I suck as a writer.”
Those fears nearly crippled me.
In fact, those fears convinced me to stand outside of the cave for 3 long years before I finally found the courage to enter the cave by hitting “Publish” on my very first blog post.
Three long years.
I’ll never get those 3 years back, and I’d be lying if I said that it doesn’t haunt me constantly.
How much further along would The Positivity Solution be if I started this 3 years ago instead of 2 months ago? How many more lives could I have touched?
I’ll never know the answer to either question.
That’s why fear is such a dangerous enemy–it is literally a life and dream stealer. Calling it anything else is naive.
Since then, whenever I feel fear (and believe me, I do very often), I allow myself to feel it and then I do exactly what I have to do.
I enter the cave.
Does it always work out for me when I enter the cave?
But each time I feel the discomfort of fear and walk into the darkness of the cave anyway, my courage grows.
To me, that’s the real treasure worth seeking.
The Truth About Fear
What about you? Where in your life is fear stopping you?
Is it about walking away from a toxic relationship?
Is it moving to a new city where you don’t know anyone?
Is it standing in front of a large audience and giving a presentation?
Is it telling your life-long friend that his/her chronic complaining is slowly driving you insane?
Is it telling your secret crush how you truly feel about him/her?
Is it finally standing up for yourself and refusing to be anyone’s doormat?
Is it starting your own business/blog/something else epic?
If so, remember that fear is completely natural and it is okay to be fearful at times.
What’s not okay is allowing that fear to control you and prevent you from living your best life.
The choice will always remain a simple one:
We can either choose our best lives by feeling the fear and walking into the cave, or we can stand outside of the cave’s entrance and wonder what it would be like to get the treasure that we’ve dreamed of.
If you’re still on the fence about which choice to make, hopefully it will help to share with you the biggest secret about our greatest enemy:
It’s not real.
Fear is just a made-up story in our minds about a possible negative outcome in the future.
Seriously, that’s all that it is. I remind myself of this fact every single day when I feel scared.
In other words, our enemy can only exist when we choose to believe that there are the monsters inside of the cave.
You might feel scared when faced with a big challenge, and that’s okay–you are not alone. We all get scared.
When it happens to you again, feel that fear and remember this:
You are better than you think, you are stronger than you know, and you are smarter than you believe.
Most of all, you are ready to enter the cave, regardless of the made-up stories that your fears are telling you.
The enemy has held the steering wheel of our lives for long enough, now it’s our turn to drive.
Feel free to buckle up, but I promise that the ride won’t be as scary as you think.
Is there an area of your life where you really want to do something, but fear is holding you back? Jump into the comments below and make your voice heard!