Fear and anxiety are probably the biggest barriers to our success and happiness. Fear, anxiety, and nervousness are very common human experiences but, it's something that gets in our way. And sometimes robs us of our joy and success.

Now, to understand this, let's just take a look first at the role that fear plays in our lives. It's not a bad thing, okay? If we had no fear, what would happen? Now, you might think if you're an entrepreneur or if you are a very creative person who wants to accomplish some phenomenal things that you could get those things done if you had no fear. But honestly, what if you had no fear at all? We come to this earth with fears built in to keep us safe. One of the natural fears that we all have for example is a fear of heights or a fear of falling from those heights. Why? So, that when we perceive that we are in a dangerous place, we are more careful, more vigilant. We don't go walking off of cliffs. It's built in to our system. Fear serves a legitimate purpose in keeping us safe, preserving our life and allowing us to live for another day. So, we don't want to completely eliminate fear.

Let's take a look at how fear works in our mind. I have to tell you a little story about me when I was younger. I have a twin sister, Pam, and we have a birthday about the same time every year. I finally figured that out a couple of years ago. We got to share our birthday parties when we were little kids. Now, this was really fun because she would invite all her friends, I invited all of my friends. And as we got to be teenagers, we got these mixed gender parties that were just fun. I remember one year, we got to go to the pool. My dad worked at a place that had a pool and he was able to secure that pool for us for our birthday party. We went down to the pool and had a great time. I think we were 11 or 12, and at that time I had a fear of the diving board. Which seems silly to me now, but it was a real thing then. And I don't know if I had belly-flopped off of it when I was younger or something happened that maybe traumatized me but, I'm afraid of the diving board. So, any time we would go to the pool as a family for example, I would just kind of stay away from it. It's not that big a deal because nobody's pressuring me or encouraging me to go off. Well, the birthday party was a little different. Because sure shooting one of my friends suggests, “Hey, everybody. Let's all go off the diving board.” And I am immediately seized with fear, right? Because I've got this little issue with the diving board. And I'm like, “No.” I'm scared. My reaction at that point is completely normal because of my experience with the diving board. But notice that if my fear is normally low, it just went up a couple of notches. It's gone up a couple of notches because now I am faced with the potential of having to deal with that thing that I fear. And hopefully you're doing the translation of your fear as we are talking because there's that thing that you fear, alright? So, just put that in place there as we have this conversation.

So, what are my choices? And really anytime we're confronted with our fear, we have basically 2 choices. We either face it or we avoid it –get the heck out of there. Right? What do I want to do? Get out of there. Why? Because my brain is designed to keep me safe. And I've already decided or learned that that's not safe. So, I'm not going to go there. I'm going to see if I can retreat. So, that option might include, “Okay, I'm going to get out of the pool.” I'm very nonchalantly going to head on over to the dressing room where there's a bathroom. Nobody's going to question that because people get up and go to the bathroom all the time, right? I should be fine. And so I go hide in the dressing room. Probably nobody will notice. Birthday boy. Yeah, I'm not going to get away with that, right? So, 2 of my friends come in and they burst open the door and they're like, “Where is he? There he is. I see him hiding in the corner. Come on Paul.” And they grabbed me by the arms and they start dragging me back out there to face my fear. Alright? Now, what's happening to my fear? First of all, before we go there, notice that when I ran away from my fear, it got ratcheted up a couple of notches when somebody suggested we go off the diving board. And then I hide in the dressing room. Shoom! Comes back down, right? I'm feeling relieved. I'm feeling like I dodged a bullet on that one. So, I'm like my fear has come down. But no, 2 buddies are dragging me back out to the pool and they get me out there on the deck of the pool. Now, what's happening to my fear? Oh, we're ratcheting up all right. In fact, it's going higher than it went before. Can you see that? Why? Because I'm now closer to what I'm afraid of. And as they marched me over to the diving board and like Captain Hook and his pirate crew, they're going to make me walk the plank and there's no escaping. I have got to do this thing now. So, as I'm walking out onto the diving board, do you see what's happening to my fear? All along is getting ratcheted way up here to where it's almost unbearable. They're pushing me out there. And then I step off of the end of the board. And at this point folks, I want you to notice something. My fear has just maxed out, it can't go any higher. In fact, as soon as I step off at the end of that board, now I got other things on my mind. I am trying to somehow get my nose plugged and somehow stop myself in the air, and I don't have very good air brakes. But I hit the surface in that water full force and I sink clear to the bottom of the pool. And about a half hour later, I finally get myself back up to the surface and I take that first breath of air. And now, what happens to my fear? Zhoom! Its way back down. In fact, it's probably lower than my baseline. There are some reasons for that. But do you see that I'm totally relieved at this point. I am feeling so much better now that I'm not facing my fear anymore.

Now, let's look at the psychology behind all of this. Because we have these 2 options. We are going to face our fear or we are going to avoid our fear. We are going to do one of those two things. If we face the fear and go to the diving board, what's going to happen? Our fear is going to increase short-term. What if we run away and go to the dressing room and hide? Our fear is going to decrease short term. What happens in the long term? There's a goofy little piece of logic. This is fuzzy logic I want you to be aware of it. When we avoid our fear, we feel relief. That conditions our brain to believe erroneously that what we are avoiding really is dangerous. Because after all look how much better I feel when I avoid it. And we train and teach and educate our brain to believe that that thing really is dangerous even if it's not. So, long-term, the next time we get to face that thing or it presents itself in our life somehow, our fear where our baseline was low before, we just ratcheted up. And now, we've got a little higher level of fear. If we do this long enough, we develop what's called a phobia. A phobia is a strong irrational fear of something that we have actually conditioned ourselves to be afraid of. And we don't even notice we are doing it. Because our subconscious mind just trains us to do that. When we avoid our fear, we feel relief short-term. And we feel an increase of our baseline of fear long term. We actually make it worse. When we face our fear, we increase our fear short-term. Okay? And remember when I stepped off the end of the diving board, I hit maximum. It's not going to go any higher, I am facing the fear smack in the face. That's as high as it's going to go. And then I feel the relief. When I get in the pool and I check and everything's still there and I'm still in one piece,  I'm like, “Oh, that wasn't as bad as I thought.” And what if I were to get out of the pool again right there and go back to the diving board? Where would my fear level be? Lower, right? It might still be up a little but it's lower than it was before because I just experienced the success. What if I do that 10 times in a row? By the end, I'm doing the cannonball. I'm doing the tuck and roll. I'm doing that fancy stuff off the diving board. Why? Because I'm no longer afraid. To face our fears increases our fear in the short term but in the long term, it resolves that fear and allows us to bring our baseline down.

How are we going to overcome fear and anxiety? You have 2 choices. You are going to face it or you are going to avoid it, okay? And everything inside of you is telling you to avoid it. The problem is that is going to increase your fear in the long run. To face it means you have got to really find the fortitude to get yourself to tolerate that increase of fear short term because in the long term that's going to bring it down and resolve it.

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