I heard the phrase earlier in the week, FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL. Well, I’m here to tell you that’s total B.S. Fear is real! And, I’m going to prove it to you, tell you why you should embrace fear, and how you can use the emotion of fear to your advantage.
FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL is a cute little catch phrase used by the motivational gurus to teach you that you have nothing to fear and, while I can see some validity to that, trying to keep fear from being real is a damaging thought.
If anyone reading this has been in the military, you can assure others that fear is real. If any of you have come face-to-face with the business end of a gun, you can assure others that fear is real. If any of you have done anything at all difficult in your life, you can assure others that fear is real.
In other words, every single one of us has experience fear and, rather than run away from it, we should run towards it and embrace it.
Children run from fear. Boys run from fear. They pretend the things that scare them don’t exist.
I remember when I was younger, I was afraid of the dark. I would hear things at night that would scare me and I would pretend I was somewhere else. When my daughter gets scared, she covers her eyes as if someone the threat disappears because we can’t see it.
And, that is the danger of pretending that fear is non-existent or that it’s simply false evidence appearing real.
Could you imagine if, while I was in Iraq, our unit, pretended the enemy didn’t exist? Or, watching a football game where one side didn’t realize they were playing against someone else?
It’s laughable in those conditions yet we ignore the enemy every time we try to suppress the natural tendency to feel fear. Every time we ask a woman on a date. Every time we go on stage to talk with hundreds or thousands of people. Every time we have a conversation with our employer about a raise. Every time we need to have a difficult conversation.
What I want you to know is that fear IS real. It’s ugly. It’s cruel. And, it is the enemy. It will keep you from doing what you know you should be doing. It will keep you from living an incredible life.
So again, rather than run from it or pretend it doesn’t exist, let’s embrace it and run towards it. And, more importantly let’s strive to understand the fear as the INDICATOR that it is.
What do I mean by this? What do I mean by “indicator?”
Fear is simply an emotion to warn you that you’re about to do something incredibly stupid or something that is just going to push you outside your comfort zone.
Imagine this: you’re driving down the road and you begin to hear a beeping noise coming from your dashboard. You look down and notice the low fuel light is blinking at you. Are you afraid of that? Of course not. But, I’m willing to bet you’re going to be looking for a gas station within the next few miles.
Fear works the same way. When you feel that fear welling up inside you, don’t freak out. Pause, strive to understand the indicator, and act accordingly.
THE CHALLENGE OF FEAR
The problem is that through thousands of years of evolution, our brains still have a difficult time distinguishing between events that will kill us or make us uncomfortable. Our ancestors felt fear because they were running away from the T-Rex on their heels or that they were about to freeze to death.
But the likelihood of you being consumed by an overgrown lizard or freeze because you can’t find a cave to dwell in are significantly lower than they used to be.
More likely is that you’ll say something dumb, get rejected, lose your job, or people will say mean things that hurt your feelings. Hardly life-threatening situations we’re dealing with here.
And yet here we are dealing with the same emotions and biological programing our Neanderthal ancestors dealt with thousands of years ago.
Is walking out on that stage in front of thousands, or hundreds, or dozens of people going to get you killed? No, it’s going to build your confidence.
Are you going to die by asking that woman you’ve had your eye on out? No, it’s going to get you a date.
Is starting that business going to cause you serious harm, injury, and/or death? No, it’s going to open your eyes to a whole new world of making money.
So, our job is not to run from fear but to run towards it. To recognize it for what it is – an indicator – and respond accordingly.
While everyone out there is living in la-la land pretending life is a series of magical rainbows, unicorns, and fairytales, and that fear is FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL, you’re out there looking that fear in the face, slaying dragons, and crushing everything that gets in your way.
While everyone else out there is complacent, and lazy, and comfortable because nothing could possibly be out there to hurt you and, heaven forbid you do something that makes you feel a little uncomfortable, you’re out there growing your mind, body, and soul. You’re expanding. You’re living. You’re embracing what you’ve always been afraid of turning it into your strength.
While everyone is out there living a docile, lifeless, soulless life, you’re out there making things happen, feeding off the energy of the thing that once crippled you and making something of your life.
While everyone out there is resting on the mild success they had as the quarterback in high school, you’re out training harder, reading more, and fighting like a caged dog because you know the enemy is real.
That enemy is fear. It’s real. It’s mean. It wants to destroy you.
And, the only thing that keeps that enemy in check it to become better than it. And, the only way to become better than the fear that is keeping you back is to meet it on the battlefield and destroy it.
Feel the fear, embrace it, respond accordingly, and become the man you are meant to be.
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