Lately, I have been experiencing these fleeting moments of clarity that provide me with a sense of peace about moving towards one of my dreams—on the one hand—only to be overwhelmed by feelings of trepidation. I run to the precipice filled with excitement about creating a new life and just as I am about to fling myself into the abyss, I stop dead in my tracks and start running back to that old familiar place. And quite frankly, I don’t want to hang out there anymore.
How many times in your own life have you stopped yourself from pursuing one of your dreams? Did you tell yourself it was because you didn’t have the money, connections or experience to have those things you’ve envisioned? The more excuses we come up with, the longer the list becomes on why it’s not possible to fulfill our dreams, so we abandon them and opt to zone out watching Netflix instead. The fear of flying has a tight grip around our neck, so we never attempt to find out what we are actually capable of.
The struggle to overcome fear, or rather learning how to act despite the presence of fear, is very real and sometimes difficult to recognize. For example, sometimes my fear shows up as common sense and under the guise of being “responsible” by making statements such as the following: Think about how hard you have worked to get where you are now; are you sure you want to throw all of that away to take a chance on an unknown? What if you lose everything? You are an adult now, so it’s best to stick with the path that has been working rather than taking a risk on something new. Is it just me who noticed how convincing the last statement appears by pleading with me to do the “mature” thing? I realize now I have been caught up in keeping up appearances of being a responsible adult at the expense of venturing out to pursue another one of my dreams.
How many times have you stayed in situations you have outgrown because you tell yourself it’s better to stick with the tried and true and remain safe? But isn’t that the real illusion? We lie to ourselves about being safe where we are instead of realizing we are trading expansion and happiness for misery, bitterness, and regret over the road not traveled as the years go by. We are here to expand in order to reach our full potential, but that cannot happen if we are not willing to take a chance on ourselves over and over again
FACING THE UNKNOWN
The first step to move through the fear is the awareness to call it by its true name: False Evidence Appearing Real. It is not a “sign” that you should not move towards your dreams or other desires (as long as it’s good for you and doesn’t harm others in the process) because you have doubts. Everyone has doubts and anytime time you think about trying something new, fear will make an appearance. The trick is to not allow yourself to get so overwhelmed with visions of disaster that you don’t act at all. Instead, focus on the next step you can take right now. That is how you start to train yourself to move through the fear rather than become paralyzed by it.
Another thing I find very helpful is to learn how to give yourself permission to be a beginner. This can be tough, especially if you find yourself in a situation where you have years of experience and therefore a sense of mastery. Being a beginner requires a willingness to be exposed and out of your element. There is a learning curve, so treat yourself with respect by accepting you may do something very badly in the beginning. Another way to respect yourself is to take baby steps towards your desires and praise yourself for the small accomplishments. The encouragement works wonders and gives you the motivation to take another step tomorrow. Do not overwhelm yourself by focusing on perfection! Remember, you are a beginner so act like it!
Finally, become aware of how your fears cause you to act in self-destructive ways so you can control your environment. What are your go-to avoidance patterns? Do you suddenly “need” to get on social media and waste three hours instead of applying for that new dream job that excites you? How about blocking your social media accounts at set times and focusing on taking a step towards your desires? If you suddenly find yourself feeling compelled to do the “responsible” thing like clean your house or call your mother back, why not head over to the library to start writing your book for just one hour right now? You can clean up when you get back and don’t bring your phone with you!
I would love to hear some other suggestions from you on how to move through the fears of flying.