Three Faces of Fear

Part three of a three part series on fear. [1,998 wds]

The human brain is the most complex piece of machinery known to man. It can be ingenious at times and self-destructive at others. Our mind is capable of a wide range of emotions to suit a variety of situations. The most prevalent and powerful of these emotions is fear.

Fear is unique. Fear has a way of masking itself and hiding within our psyche disguised as something different. No other emotion we face is quite this clever. Love is love and easily recognized, as is hate or indifference. But fear has a unique ability to manifest itself in other ways. I call these the three faces of fear: the busy-bee, the distracted, and the procrastinator.

These are not the only faces of fear but often when we are plagued by our fears, they manifest in these ways. They could take on these three faces of fear. So, if these traits seem familiar, ask yourself, are they being motivated by your fears?

I have been haunted by all three faces of fear. At some points it was one of these faces, and at other times it was a combination of all three. Which face of fear are you experiencing?

The Busy-bee

The busy-bee is the person who barely has enough time in the day for all they need to accomplish. Yet often when evening comes, they find they have accomplished nothing. Ever felt like that? I know I have. These are the parents who run their kids to schools, then sports, then birthday parties, then home to cook dinner and do homework, and then get the kids ready for bed. By the end of the day, they are exhausted and have no time to work on that business they have always dreamed of launching. Sound familiar?

The busy-bee is the person that has so much “office work” that it consumes their entire day. They spend all day organizing files, checking emails, listening to phone messages, filing, and dusting their office space. They spend eight hours “working,” but at the end of the day have not made one phone call to a potential client to increase business.

If you are a busy-bee, you are letting your fear control you. You convince yourself that all of these other tasks need to be accomplished, and they consume all of your time. Therefore, you have no additional time to actually be productive. The fear convinces you that you have to be more organized before you can launch your business. You end up making lists of all the things you need to do. You believe you have to get all the systems in place before you can actually start working. None of this is true. You are being controlled by fear.

The busy-bee must learn to organize time differently. We all have kids, spouses, sports, and birthday parties. Instead of managing our time effectively, we use these life events as excuses to consume our day.

Successful people have all of the same obligations you have. They have just learned to manage their time effectively. Successful people are not busy-bees. They are goal-oriented and driven. Their behaviors directly further their goals. Filing and dusting your office do not further your goals. Making lists and checking emails rarely sparks business growth. Picking up the phone and making a cold call to a potential client is what you need to grow your business.

The key is to constantly assess what you are doing. At any given moment, are your behaviors directly furthering your goals or what you need to accomplish, or are they consuming your time and preventing your from doing what you need to do? Reorganize your life and manage your time so you only do things that directly further your goals or dreams. The rest of the tedious stuff can wait.

The Distracted

Distracted people consume their days with meaningless tasks that prevent them from accomplishing anything. The distracted person watches an excess amount of television, which is mindless entertainment for our brains. They record the entire season of Teen Mom 2 or Real Housewives and can’t miss an episode. The distracted person spends an inordinate amount of time on social media sites, keeping up with their 500 closest Facebook and Twitter friends. The distracted person has eight Internet browser windows open at one time. That way when they are “working,” they can toggle back and forth between work and social media or shopping sites.

How many times a day do you check your email? Why? Is there something so important in there that not immediately receiving it is going to be detrimental to your well-being? Or are you just being distracted? How much time do you spend on your cell phone, texting, calling, and playing Angry Birds? With smart phones, we can now check our emails, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and browse the web all day long. We surely won’t miss a single thing that takes place anywhere. In truth, it’s all mindless bullshit designed to distract us from accomplishing anything.

The distracted person is being controlled by fear. We are afraid to tackle our dreams. We are afraid to accomplish our goals. We sabotage ourselves with mindless entertainment and meaningless behaviors to distract our brains from concentrating on what is important. Are our Facebook “friends” (probably more like acquaintances, really) more important than attaining our goals or accomplishing our dreams? If they are not, why do we pay more attention to them than we do to our dreams or goals?

Here’s a challenge for you. Every day for the next five days, document how much time you spend on social media, browsing the web, checking emails, and watching televisions. Add up your daily totals (no cheating, be honest with yourself) for five days. How much do you want to bet that the time spent in hours qualifies as a part-time job? The reality of this is startling.

Now, what if you took that time spent and applied it to your goals, your dreams, or launching that business that you convinced yourself you didn’t have time for? How much further along do you think you would be? That’s a harsh dose of reality. Take the challenge and re-evaluate how you spend your time.

The Procrastinator

Procrastinators never get around to their goals or dreams. They always put them off until another time. The procrastinator will make every excuse in the book why the dream can’t be accomplished. I have done it. With my book Decoding Your Past, I convinced myself it wasn’t good enough to be a book. I told myself I didn’t want to endure the backlash from family or friends for exposing the details of my life. These all became the excuse as to why I “couldn’t” do it.

In the end, I was procrastinating because of my fears. Truth be told, there was no reason not to write the book. In fact I had to write the book. It had always been a dream of mine, and I had to accomplish my dream. I was also scared to death of writing the book, which means I was passionate about it. We fear the things we are passionate about. We have no fears about the things to which we are indifferent. Because I was passionate about it, I had to do it.

The only reason we put things off until tomorrow is we are afraid to do them today. We find reasons to put things off. We make excuses. We convince ourselves. Ultimately, we are lying to ourselves.

Don’t wait until tomorrow to start doing something. If you have a goal, a dream, or a business to launch—do it. Start it today. Don’t wait until tomorrow. You will quickly realize that tomorrow never comes.

There is no perfect time. Nothing is ever perfect. We have a tendency to convince ourselves, “The timing just isn’t right.” That’s bullshit. That’s fear talking. The time to do what you need to do is now, not in the future. Stop procrastinating.

Be in Control

Controlling fear is a learned behavior. It’s not an easy task, but once you learn that your fears are wrong, it’s empowering. You can truly unlock your potential. You will view the world differently after crossing that abyss. You will see your goals and dreams differently. You will see them as attainable.

Making the change in your mind is like flipping a light switch to the “on” position. But it doesn’t automatically stay in that position. You will battle and struggle with fears forever. You will have to keep your fears in check. They will creep into your life, and you will struggle to force them back out. That’s the way it works. That is normal.

I face fears all the time. The difference is today I recognize fear as nothing more than an emotion attempting to control my life. I’m better now at controlling that emotional response and suppressing the fear so it doesn’t affect my behavior. That’s the only difference. But make no mistake, it is a constant battle and will be for the rest of my life.

The most important thing is to recognize your fears and subsequent behaviors immediately. That way you can change the behavior and get back on track. Once you have learned to control your fears, this constant battle will be much easier.

It’s not that successful people don’t have these battles, because they certainly do. Successful people are better at quickly recognizing these fears and immediately making corrections and getting back on track. Plain and simple, successful people control their responses to fear better than people who are not successful. This is the true difference between people who are successful and those who are not.

Fear is an emotion we can control. We have to see fear for what it is and see how it affects our daily lives. Once we begin to connect those dots, we are well on our way to controlling fear. The next step is to take action. As Nike says, “Just do it.” Set a goal, create a vision of what you need to accomplish, and do it. There are no good excuses. Excuses are our fears talking.

When you accomplish whatever you set out to do, you will see this. You will realize that all your excuses were bullshit. All of my excuses were. I have yet to sit back and say to myself, “Damn, my fears were right, I shouldn’t have done that.” In fact, it’s always the opposite. I now laugh at myself for allowing my fears to have a voice at all.

I’m a firm believer in the concept that sometimes you might be the teacher, but you are always a student. Last year I faced my fears and published my book. This year I am taking on the challenge of motivational speaking as well as working on my second book. I have anxieties (fears) about both for different reasons. However, I will not allow my fears to prevent me from accomplishing either. Now that I have put my goals out there in a public forum, I have you all to hold me accountable.

Don’t let your fears control your life. Don’t miss out on goals and dreams because you were afraid to face your fears. Empower yourself and tackle your dreams. Do it just once and you will feel the difference within yourself. You will quickly become a new person. From then on, you will be unstoppable.

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