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How to Not be Afraid of Anything: An Introduction

Updated on September 12, 2010

Do you wish you could take some risks, with your career or relationships or other areas of your life, but feel held back by fear?

Stop it. (Yeah, I know, I of all people should talk.)

Taking Life Seriously

Now, the problem isn't that you take your life or yourself too seriously--a lot of people try to spin it that way when giving you advice about being fearless. But if you don't take your own existence (the context for everything else in life) seriously, what could you then possibly take seriously at all? And what does it even mean to take something "seriously" or not? I think that people who say that might indeed be onto something, though, even if the expression is totally vague and probably not very well-said. (It's pointless to tell a creature to take the biggest, most important thing in his life [exactly, his own life itself] casually. It makes no sense to him, and shouldn't.)

I think (or hope) what this saying is supposed to mean, though is: "Calm down." Whether life is serious or not, it doesn't pay to put huge amounts of emotion into temporary set-backs.

Fair enough. This is true.

But how do you calm down? How do you avoid putting emotion into something when your success or failure are on the line? When gaining or not gaining something you really want is at stake?

That's why how much emotion you put into or avoid putting into something is only part of the picture. It's more, where one puts that emotion. (It has to go somewhere, after all.) The biggest thing I have noticed that curbs fear isn't something that one doesn't do or avoids doing or suppresses, it's rather a feeling or perspective that one actively seeks to adopt. It is a direction in which one funnels ones energy, instead of funneling it towards ones fear.

A Single Assumption

This perspective can basically be called confidence or security. When it comes to getting outcomes, all things being equal, it is best to have even a false security than none at all. Nervousness or self-doubt can invalidate and hold back even people who are, objectively-speaking, fit for some task or another. Having confidence (it seems to me so far) is better than having none, even when it may be objectively unjustified.

Pushing the fear away can be traced back to one assumption: The assumption that you will succeed. Many people can't make this assumption which invalidates all their fear because, ironically (or appropriately) they are too afraid to make such an assumption.

It might just be too counter-intuitive because everyone is telling you not to be too big for your britches, and to not make assumptions, and to not count your chickens before they hatch, and to not be too sure of yourself, and to not have so much hubris, lest the gods strike you down once and for all.

The world is telling you to doubt yourself just in case, probably because the world is filled with people who doubt themselves. The truth is, though, self-doubt never helped anyone get anything, and in fact held many people back from achieving their full potential. Many of the people who get what they want are bold and presumptuous, and I have a sinking feeling that those who seem humble or surprised at their own success are just pretending. It doesn't make sense, after all, to set out to do something whole-heartedly if you really believe in your heart of hearts that you have a huge chance of failing; it would be pointless.

Okay, that's all well and good, but how the heck do I make that "assumption" when I know full well that, in reality, I could totally fail?

Cultivating this assumption can be difficult, but the basic thing to do is to try to control your own thoughts.

Yeah, don't think about it.

Yes, those worrying thoughts that flutter through your head that you probably don't even notice, but that wear away at your confidence the moment before you'll need it the most--yeah, don't think them.

Think only about succeeding. Imagine only that scenario in your head, so that the concept of failing is so foreign you'd be totally unprepared for it. I know that seems counter-intuitive; as I said, society teaches you to prepare to fail, just in case, sometimes with even more of a priority than expecting success. But when the consequences of failing are really not that bad--really not life or death--and fearing is irrational and counterproductive, you simply, literally should not consider the option of failure.

Act as if your success is inevitable. Focus on where you're going--the path you want to be on, not the ten million other paths you wish to avoid. If you just focus on that, the rest will normally take care of itself. By choosing something you do want, you are automatically rejecting all the things you don't want, and it's much easier and much more simple.

I know this hub barely scratches the surface, but that's the best way I can put it and, really, it is not something I think that anyone fully understands until he figures it out for himself. Some people tried to tell me, and I didn't get what they meant until after I had understood it on my own through experience, even if they had at the very least sent me in the right directions conceptually.

Thusly, think of this hub as an introduction of sorts and, besides, I will likely write more specific hubs on the subject in time. In fact, if it's fear in relationships and romance that you wish to address, I already have a hub on that which may be of some use.

So anyway, more importantly, don't worry. You'll get what you want. It's inevitable. Sooner or later. In some way, shape or form. So why fear?

Trust yourself.


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