Dealing with fear

I heard the best definition of the word ‘fear’ from a complete stranger. In my early 30’s I was working through a host of personal issues that stemmed from growing up in dysfunctional family system.

The stranger said, “FEAR. False. Evidence. Appearing. Real.“. Whoa! In that moment, all of the fretting, the “shoulds”, the procrastination, the mis-trust, the self-doubt…it all made sense.

False evidence appearing real.

Often times we are afraid of things that we “don’t know”. People we don’t know. Places we don’t know. We are intimidated or afraid of trying something new. It causes anxiety and stress. Stopping a habit or activity, even if NOT doing it will enhance our quality of life; the “what if” impedes our ability to stop. Our limited experience creates walls that seem incomprehensible to climb.

We agonize. We feel ‘confused’. We bargain with ourselves. We justify why we should or should not do x,y,z.


Why do we find it so hard to change? To not feel envious of others? To not feel suspicious of our spouse or neighbor or coworker? Why does it feel so hard to stop a bad habit?

I believe we have feelings of fear attached to our behaviors. I believe we have fears associated with our firmly held beliefs. Fear of the unknown. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of being who we are meant to be….because what is we are not ‘good enough’?

We believe this evidence is real. “I can’t look for a new job because my benefits are too good at my current job”. “My spouse will leave me because I haven’t lost the baby weight”. “I can’t be a stay-at-home-mom because I would be wasting my college education”.  “I can’t quit smoking because it’s hard and I get moody.” “If I don’t have a new car every two years, everyone will think I am poor”.

And on and on…

People cling to these beliefs. People feel safe in their ideologies, no matter how odd they seem to an outsider or from a different point of view.

The good news is that these beliefs are stemming from ‘feelings’. And feelings are not facts. 

We create evidence (feelings, thoughts) and pretend they are REAL, real obstacles that prevent us from doing something different. That prevent us from changing. That keep us stuck.

The next time you are afraid. Not life threatening danger, but when you are afraid to try or do something because you don’t know if you will win or fail or if it will work or not; listen to your thoughts. Are you building a case against yourself? Are you allowing false evidence to be your guide? Are you in tune with your fear?

Now look it in the face and see the other side. Have a larger vision of what could be. Make this new vision your evidence and know it is your truth.

“Fears are nothing more than a state of mind.” —Napoleon Hill

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