an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat
Sound familiar? It should. It creeps over us almost every time we face a less-than-desirable situation. Whether we like to admit it or not, fear influences many of our day-to-day decisions. This emotion cannot always be recognized as the same fear we feel when watching a scary movie (i.e. The Conjuring). Switching lanes on the interstate to avoid driving behind an 18-wheeler with a seemingly questionable load of logs on its trailer is a decision influenced by fear, however subtle or subconscious that fear may be. For the perfectionist, such as myself, putting off tasks and assignments is often associated with fear of producing work that is not up to par with certain “perfectionist” standards. It can be a lifesaver or a life-hinderer (Look, I’m making up words like Josh does…scary).
When fear is brought on by impulse, it is working as a survival mechanism. Any mother who has gotten a weird vibe from that “creeper” in the grocery store and, therefore, stands protectively nearer to her child is acting on instinctual fear. Any time your body lurches into fight or flight mode, you are being motivated by fear. It plays a key role in keeping us and those we love alive. It fortunately keeps us “in check” from doing things that may put our lives in danger. However, it can also be dreadfully consuming and detrimental to our wellbeing. This detriment can take many forms. A more severe form, such as an anxiety disorder, is brought on by an intense and quite irrational fear, causing those who suffer from it to evade various life functions. Their quality of life diminishes. By eliminating potentially harmful experiences, they also do away with those potentially awe-inspiring and wonderful moments this life frequently has to offer. On a lesser scale, this fear consumption can be as simple as never getting on the dance floor at wedding receptions for fear of embarrassment. Although this isn’t necessarily “detrimental to our wellbeing,” I can attest to the fact that life is much better when dancing is involved 🙂
Regardless of its severity, we can recognize the hindering capabilities that fear presents. But what we must realize is that much of how fear affects our decisions has to do with perception. How we perceive this sometimes-crippling emotion says worlds about how it will affect our lives. If we choose to see our fears as a restraint, then that is exactly how we will behave when faced with those fears. Trapped by the thick, ugly walls they build around us. Luckily, it works the other way around, as well. If we choose to see our fears as opportunities to grow, we will learn to trudge through those scary situations and bust through their walls with determination spread across our faces, strength filling our hearts, and wisdom quieting our minds.
If you’re reading this, chances are you reluctantly (or eagerly) embarked on this CrossFit journey for fear of something.* Fear of being unattractively overweight. Fear of being too weak to defend yourself. Fear of your blood triglyceride levels. Fear of something, ANYTHING. And as if it couldn’t get any worse, you actually had to join a gym where you work out in groups so everyone can see how far you let yourself go on the sherm-scale. Overcoming that fear in and of itself says a great deal about your character and I salute you. But please, I beg of you, don’t let it end there. Continue to soar over those hurdles. Look your fears directly in the eye and tell them that they will not and cannot consume you. They are your ultimate “haters.” They will try their best to inhibit you from living the life of your dreams and it is YOUR job to use those fears as motivation to accomplish your ambitions. You are bigger, stronger, and FITTER than your fears, I promise. So, live your life that way. And watch while your fears crumble by the wayside and you become resilient, courageous, and… fearless.
*For those of you who have yet to commence this challenging voyage we call CrossFit, come and join CFBB Nation, where we are constantly slashing the bellies of our fears with our razor-like bear claws.