We often think fear is a bad thing. We dislike it and want to fight it. What if fear is a good feeling to have?
Do you remember that feeling of nausea right before you march in front of a live audience to give your speech? Or that ‘heart about to burst out’ sensation in your chest before your first rollercoaster ride? Say no more, these feelings that you have when you are scared has a name – we call it fear. I Googled the word ‘fear’ on my iPhone and this is what I got from Wikipedia: “Fear is a feeling induced by perceived danger or threat that occurs in certain types of organisms…and ultimately a change in behaviour…”
You must be wondering by now, why is it important that we talk about fear instead of courage? Fear is such a negative word, while courage is a positive one, so why don’t we stick to the one with a positive notion?
My 2Cents is this; Fear is bigger and stronger than courage and I am going to tell you why. It is the fear of change that has kept me in the legal industry for 5 years despite being drained and unmotivated most of the days working at the law firm. It might be a passion to some, but I have always known it was not the right place for me.
Though, like most people, I felt safe and secured knowing what was going to happen the next day. My routine was fairly simple and straightforward; I woke up when my alarm rang, I pressed the snooze button for a couple of times before finally forcing myself to brush my teeth and shower, I force fed myself so I wouldn’t feel hungry by the time I was fully awake, fought the morning traffic to get to my workplace where I was doing something I was not passionate about, along side some people that I disliked, just to get paid peanuts while making somebody else really, really rich.
It is precisely fear that has birthed the trending phrases like “Monday blues”, “TGIF” and many more. It is fear that makes us exclaim, “I have no choice!” oh so loudly. Whenever we think we are ready and brave enough to try something new, we eventually come to a halt. We stop ourselves because fear is bigger than courage. The only mistake is that we let it eat us up.
At times when I was searching for some motivational quotes to caption my newly taken selfies at the gym, I would come across sayings like “Be fearless” or “Fight your fears”. It made me question; can we really fight our fears and win? Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love said that every time she tries to fight fear, it just fights back harder.
Fret not. We might think and hope for otherwise, but fear is actually a useful emotion to have. Fear has existed from the time of our ancestors, where the emotion had literally saved countless lives. Now, do you realise that it is fear that signals us to take cover during a thunderstorm? It is also fear that stops us from walking home alone through a dark alley in the middle of the night.
You should appreciate your fear. Don’t hate or judge it.
Have you tried talking to your fears? It might sounds ridiculous, but it has worked for so many. When you have a new idea to present, or you want to try something bold and creative, or you wish to start a business, don’t back down because you feel fear! Write a short letter addressed to it instead, just like this:
Thank you for having kept me safe all this while. It is useful to have you around.
However, what I am about to do next has nothing to do with you. Nobody is going to die from this speech I am going to present. I appreciate your hard work all these while but this time around, I just need you to sit still. I will present this speech and you do not get to make any decision.
I remember my own experience onstage in October 2015, it was my first tryout doing a comedy skit in front of a live audience in Jaya One One Mic Stand. I was terrified for a few days before the actual performance. On the way up to the stage, my hands and legs are shaking. I was trying my best to fake confidence and maintain eye contact. Yet 5 seconds into the talk, I got more and more comfortable, and soon enough I felt at home.
Now I still do feel jittery at times, but I have long realised fear is a just a feeling that I get before the actual performance, and not during. When I am in the midst of the show, my energy is entirely focused on enjoying the moment and doing it right. Too long of a duration before taking action amplifies our fear, so don’t think too much and just go for it. Just ask any skydiver, and they will tell you that they are afraid of the idea of skydiving all the way to the moment right before jumping off an airplane, but when they have already jumped off, they forget fear; all they can feel is excitement and freedom.
Will Smith, American actor and producer said, “whereby bliss is on the other side of fear”. Fear is actually the most boring part of a human. There is nothing special about it, everyone has it. Fear is boring, ordinary, safe, and uninteresting, but once you’ve gotten over it, you’ll reap the benefits; excitement and adrenaline rush pushing you to your limits.
Understand that fear is always going to be a part of you no matter what. But it is up to you to embrace it and offer it a nice, comfortable seat and say to it in a stern voice, “Not this time, thank you”.
About Low Thien Yien
Low Thien Yien is a LLB and CLP graduate who has practiced 5 years of legal profession, which he eventually left to pursue network marketing. Among other things, he enjoys comedy and motivational videos which eventually led him into looking into various perspectives of human behaviour and insecurities.