Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Handling Fear

I continue my ramblings on how to attain peace and happiness in life. Do not be shy to make a comment.

How to Handle Fear
Of course, we are not concerned here with the fear of being ill from a disease or the fear of being mugged in a dark alley. Our interest here is in the kind of fear that paralyzes people into inaction and the kind of fear that makes people stay in a painful situation that they can extract themselves from. It’ is the kind of fear that retards personal growth and boxes one in and shackles people. The kind of fear we will discuss here is the fear of being hurt emotionally and fear of failure.
We have to understand a few things about failure and fear of failure. People act with conviction when they are confident of success and when there is possibility of failure; most do not act as they should. They fold up and fail to act or avoid acting. So we are so afraid of failure, right? Let us look at failure. What exactly is failure?

Failure is an Attitude, not an Event
Remember the quote “I have experienced a series of defeats but I am not defeated”? Being defeated is a choice one makes; it is not an event. The playwright Marilyn vos Savant said that “being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.” We are so hung up on success yet we learn so much more from failure than we do from success.
We have to understand that success does not make us and failure does not break us. Recall that success is something we experience, perhaps as a result of hard work, good strategy or even good genes. But success should not make us who we are. We should choose who we are. Do not let the outcome of your actions be the only measure of success or your personal worth. You are a success if you try, not just because you succeed. If we let success define us, we are likely to be destroyed by failure. Because when success validates us, failure is seen as a loss of identity or even death of the person because we end up tying the purpose of our lives to achievement of success. Recall that if something brings you up, it can also bring you down. Accept failure with the same measure of objectivity as you do success. Failure will only break us if we allow it to break us. Failure is not falling down: it is staying down. It is just an opportunity to get it right next time. So it is a learning opportunity. Henry Ford said that “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

Failure will not Break You
We have to understand that failure is associated with a specific event, and it is not a person and has no life of its own. It does not remember and it cannot actively seek you. You are part of the event and are responsible but you are not the event. You are still intact and fundamentally sound. Uncouple yourself from the event. Once you understand that whereas you are responsible for an event, you are not the event, you will have the courage to act, knowing that you will outlive failure. Plus, mistakes are a necessary part of progress. Marva Collins said that “If you can't make a mistake, you can't make anything.” And one cannot escape challenges in life. Challenges are inevitable while failure is optional as Roger Crawford once said.
Once you understand that failure builds you and does not diminish you, you can overcome your fears. The American labor unionist Walter Reuther said that “If you are not big enough to lose, you are not big enough to win.” So failure should be accepted in equal measure as success. The American actor Mickey Rooney surmised that “Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” Embracing this concept is integral to building confidence because as Peter T. McIntyre said, “Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong. “

From the above, we can see that failure can help us grow rather r=than destroy us. This sentiment was echoed by the American actress Mary Tyler Moore when she said “You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you.”
So take a chance, don’t be afraid. Realize that when you fail, you are going to learn and go in the different direction. Don’t say “I can’t…” or “I can’t because they…” because the limitations placed on us are an extension of our own timidity. If we are afraid to fail, then we will use other people’s objections and disapprovals as an excuse to avoid the risk of failure.

Fear as Opportunity
Behind every fear, ignorance is often present or at least a lack of understanding this may be why Marie Curie said that “nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.” Dorothy Thompson said “Fear grows in darkness; if you think there's a bogeyman around, turn on the light.” So, look your fear in the eye and understand it. Indeed, most of the things that scare us are things we know little about or have never experienced or understood. Looked at this way, every fear is an opportunity for growth and is room for improvement in our personal growth. Jim Morrison put it aptly when he said, “Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.”
So fear can be defined as freedom that has not yet been conquered. Tom Crum said “You either move toward something you love or away from something you fear. The first expands. The second constricts.” So failure to confront your fears retards your growth and constricts your experience.
Remember that you can't discover new oceans unless you have the courage to leave the shore. And that, whereas ships in a harbor are safe, ships were not made to stay at the harbor but to sail in seas. It has also been said that as soon as you stop taking risks in life, your story is over.
Just like there is a silver lining behind every dark cloud, Ruth E. Renkel exhorted us that we should never fear shadows because they simply mean that there's a light shining somewhere nearby. So behind every fear we feel is something we need to learn. On the other side of fear, freedom awaits. Learn it and be free because as Dorothy Thompson said, “Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.”
Don't be afraid to fail. Don't waste energy trying to cover up failure. Learn from your failures and go on to the next challenge. It's OK to fail. If you're not failing, you're not growing, said H. Stanley Judd

August 29, 2008

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