Fear. (n.) an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat.
How Fear Affected Me
Fear. It often lurks in the back of our mind, feeding the subconscious mind ideas that are counter to our goals. Per the definition above, fear is caused by a belief not necessarily by actual fact, meaning that our subconscious fears could be holding us back from our realizing our true-selves.
It wasn’t until I had my epiphany moment, and made the choice to live, to be there for my wife, for my daughter, and myself, that I realized that my entire life up to that point had been ruled by fear. I was afraid to lose weight. I was afraid to fail. I was afraid to succeed. I was afraid of what people would say. But in my epiphany moment, none of that mattered. I became separate from my fear and the fears I had related to weight loss no longer mattered because my reason why was greater and stronger than the fear. My fears had felt real, and thus had paralyzed my actions in the past, but once my true-self revealed it’s desires, my fear felt cheap, and like a bad dream, rather than a fact of my reality.
Fear Is The Mind-Killer
“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
― “Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear” Frank Herbert, Dune.
Once I had overcome my fears related to weight loss, and as a result began to see real, achievable and sustainable progress for the first time in my life, is when I realized that these paralyzing fears of self-doubt were not just related to my weight and weight loss. The tools and frameworks that I used to lose 200lbs could be applied to anything.
I analyzed my life, seeking out the fears that had paralyzed me. The fears were many. Despite being a B+ average high school student with little actual work, I had failed out of college because I was afraid. Afraid to fail, afraid to succeed, and in truth, afraid to actually do the work, and most importantly, I had feared becoming an adult, becoming a man and putting childish things behind me. I feared disappointing my parents as their first born. And those fears became a self-filling prophecy. I meekly accepted my fate to work in a job that I hated because I wasn’t willing to become an adult; I had allowed fear rule me.
Acknowledging that I was afraid was the first step in overcoming my fear. I had to allow it to pass over me, pass through me, and then I had to envision what my true-self wanted. Some people may be given things, but if I wanted to achieve my heart’s desires, I’d have to reach out and take it. No one was stopping me or holding me back except myself.
I was able to take that mindset to overcome my fear, and return to college as a 30-year-old. Four years later, I graduated with a 4.0 while maintaining my 200lb weight loss, working full time (plus a part time job in my final semester), being a father of two, and a husband. It is amazing what *you* can achieve when you are no longer afraid.
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
The Height of My Fears Was My Fear of Heights
I had one lingering fear that danced around the shadows of my mind. And that’s a fear of heights. Being up high has always made me dizzy like I’ve lost control. My body would physically lock up and shake.
My wife recently brought up that she had always wanted to try zip lining, and since this was her 35th birthday, I wanted to make it special. I booked a cabin in the West Virginia mountains and signed us up for a zip line tour. While doing so, I saw that the zip line had a sky bridge where you had to walk across logs with a 12-inch gap between them and that the way you got down from the zip line course was to rappel straight down 50ft in a controlled fall. I hit “Book Now!” And the fear hit me. I recognized it. I examined it. I allowed it to pass through me. Then, I envisioned what my true-self wanted, despite my fear. I feared that I was going to die despite the evidence that the lines holding me were the same high tension wires that caught fighter jets on aircraft carriers. I feared that the mechanism controlling my descent during the rappel would fail, despite the fact that this is the same type of equipment used by firefighters and first responders worldwide. I had to let the fear pass through me, and then I had to accept that I wasn’t going to die and that it could be fun.
As I suited up for the zip lining, my fears still felt real. I kept envisioning my true-self enjoying the experience as I faced my fear. I went across the first zip, and it was amazing and fun. Then, I saw the sky bridge with the giant gaps between steps where I could fall through, and my stomach muscles locked up tighter than they ever had. I became dizzy. There were people behind me in line and we had to keep moving so I just moved without thinking…and I did it, one step at a time. I didn’t fall, and I didn’t die, and it was exhilarating.
And while I had mastered that one portion, none of that mattered when I got to the rappel portion. All of the color drained from my face. I felt sick to my stomach. I was visibly shaking. I was 50ft above the ground, on a treestand, high in the mountains, and I could feel the treestand swaying in the wind. The only thing that would carry me to the ground was a thin nylon rope. I had to actually hold on to it, and sit back over the ledge. The more I thought about it, the more I felt the fear surging within me. There was only one thing to do: I volunteered to go first. I had to trust that the rope would hold me. I summoned everything that I had, everything that I’ve learned about my true-self, and trusted the process, the tools, and the people there who had done it before.
And I flew through the air. And I’m no longer afraid, or at least I am not as afraid. That fear may always be lurking in the back of my mind, feeding my subconscious, but now I know how much stronger my true-self is. I know that I’d be nervous zip lining, walking a sky bridge or rappelling again, but the voice of my fear will be that much smaller that much quieter. With time and practice, it will barely be a whisper.
- Recognize your fear. What is it that you are actually afraid of?
- Examine your fear. Why are you afraid? How is this holding you back from being your true-self?
- Empower your true-self. Allow your fear to pass through you. Acknowledge that you are afraid, why you are afraid, and then envision what you want to do, despite your fear.
It may take multiple attempts before you overcome your fear, but each attempt gets you closer to your true-self. Remember, it is our failures that we learn from. Our success is simply a summary of our failures and the lessons learned. If you aren’t failing, success will forever elude you. This is especially true when it comes to weight loss!
If you are having trouble being objective about your own fears and failures when it comes to weight loss, I’d love to work with you through 1 on 1 online coaching. Together can will examine your fears, failures, and successes, and start your journey toward your true-self.
I’d like to leave you with my absolute favorite quote of all time from Bruce Lee’s book, Striking Thoughts. Seriously, read this book.
“Don’t fear failure. — Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts, it is glorious even to fail.”
― Bruce Lee, Striking Thoughts: Bruce Lee’s Wisdom for Daily Living