Get Excited About Fear

Posted by on Jan 9, 2014 in ALL Posts, Blog, Finding Courage | 5 comments

DSCN1651Get Excited About Fear!

I remember one time when I went to a park on the ocean to watch the sunset. Normally I leave as soon as the sun goes down because trees cover the path to the parking lot and it gets really dark really quickly along the route. This time, however, I just couldn’t get myself to leave. It was far too peaceful with the sound of the waves caressing the rocks.

When I did finally decide to make my way home the path had barely any light left. I had forgotten my flashlight. About half way through the path I suddenly heard the sound of a footstep in the trees to my right. One step. It was not an animal. I immediately stopped turned and stared into the darkness at the sound as if to say, “I’m not afraid! Don’t mess with me!” Now, to be truthful, I really was afraid inside. My heart began to race and I had to work hard to keep my mind from doing the same. Despite the inner conflict, I turned and walked deliberately and slowly the rest of the way to my car, keeping alert for any sounds behind me. That may have been one of my most fearful moments ever.

Fear! It’s a gift!

Fear alerts us to situations that could very possibly endanger our lives and ignites our flight or flight responses, especially in the worst-case scenarios. Fear can move us to action.

+ The fear of not having enough money = job hunting or the growing our business
+ The fear of our kids possibly being harmed = more awareness of the friends they choose
+ The fear of flipping the car on icy roads = slowing down and driving with care

Fear is a gift that often leads us to make choices that can literally save our lives.

Fear! It holds us back!

On the other hand, we can easily misinterpret the feeling of excitement as fear.

Can you think of the last time you started something new? I mean really new. Perhaps you joined up with a new trainer, or you moved, or you began a new job, or you started your own business. The study of neuroscience has shown us that when we start something new our brains get busy making new pathways. When this happens we feel anxiety at various levels since our brains are wired to create the most efficient brain paths possible. When our brain gets busy making new ones, this triggers a sense of ‘fear’. Have you ever felt that nervous tension when beginning something new? If you have, that’s not only natural it’s a great sign that we are moving forward. Sometimes when we experience that feeling however, it scares us and causes us to fight or flight. Then we miss out on the opportunity.

Fear! Get Excited About It!

So fear can save our lives and it can hold us back. What happens, however, if instead of choosing fight or flight, we choose Excitement? I mean, isn’t it cool that the brain is creating new paths simply because we are courageous enough to try new things? Isn’t that a reason to be excited?

I think so! Just imagine how many new experiences you could have in your day-to-day life if you just stepped out of your normal routine. Think about how much more alive you would feel if you said yes to that new opportunity. Think about how much your life could change if you mustered up the courage to do something new.

Fear:   It protects our lives.   It holds us back.    It excites us for change.

What new adventure will you experience next simply because you will
choose excitement over fear?

Share your thoughts below on how you’ve moved beyond fear in your life in the past and how you plan to continue growing this week/month/year.

As always, while you grow and choose Excitement over Fear:

Be Inspired!  Be Inspirational!  Be a Leader!

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5 Comments

  1. When I was 35 years old I accompanied the NECC camp staff on a team building exercise, during pre-camp training, to the top of Hedgehog Mtn in NH. I was a camp board member who spent long weekends helping at camp each summer, while continuing in my regular job the rest of the week. The team building exercise that day was to rappel 150 ft down a 1000 ft cliff on the side of the mountain and climb back up. As a tag along to the group I could have easily excused myself from the exercise, but I chose not to do so. As I stepped over the side of the cliff I realized that I could no longer see where my feet would be landing and my friends were quickly disappearing from my sight as well. However, I realized as I looked up into the sky that God was there with me. My initial fear did turn into excitement and I made my way down to the ledge without difficulty. When I changed over from the descending belay line to the ascending one I took my first good look at where I needed to go to get back on top. The word daunting is an understatement. Sharing the ledge with me was one other who had already attempted to climb back up and froze in a difficult place about 10 ft up, where she couldn’t find another hand hold. With help she had managed to get back to the ledge but was so shaken by her experience that she was crying and repeatedly saying things like I’ll never get up there without falling. I’m only to die on this ledge. Someone go call for a helicopter to come for me. etc. I and the rope manager on the ledge with us looked at each other wondering what we could do to fix the problem. We were waiting for each other to come up with a solution. Just then the next person coming down the cliff arrived on the ledge. She quickly took in the situation and told the terrified one, “I’ll go up now and then you can see where to go and follow the same path after me”. She took off following the exact same route the first one had tried. Only because she was extremely physically fit and tall with extra long arms she bounded up the side of the cliff as if it were a gentle slope. While her example of leading the way was a sound concept, her rapid success where the other had tried and already failed caused my tearful climbing companion to be even more convinced she never make it back up. I was really fearful that her emotional state was going to make it really impossible for her to get off the cliff without someone carrying her up in a basket, since she was definitely an emotional basket case. But then the Lord gave me the words I shared with her. I told her I was absolutely certain that I would also fail were I to follow the path our predecessor had chosen. But I told her after God had given me the confidence of the scripture promise, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” that I would find another path we both could use to climb back up. I started back up taking a detour around the initial trouble spot the whole time encouraging her to watch where I found hand and foot holds when they were not easy to see. I made it 1/2 way up when I reached a place that I couldn’t progress from, because the only visible hand hold was about 3-4 feet beyond the end of my reach. I was afraid that my failure at that point could cause her to become totally undone because I knew she’d been watching my every more. I realized then that there was a greater lesson here that God wanted to teach all of us. The lesson of trust. I told her in a calm matter of fact voice that I in my own ability was totally without a doubt stuck in that place. I could clearly see a path from where I was. It had lots of good holds for hands and feet but to reach them would require literally letting go of the mountain and trusting that my belayer and the rope could hold my weight. In my heart I knew the only answer was to push away from what I was clinging to in my own strength and with God’s help trust enough to swing over to where I could commence climbing again. Obviously since I am now sitting here writing down this story the trust was well placed and we all safely made it back up the face of the cliff using our own strength supported by God’s surrounding mighty presence. This was another life lesson I have clung to over the years whenever faced with a new fear producing challenge. If what we hope to do is in accordance with what God wants us to do He will give us exactly what we need to get it done. Sometimes it’s the courage to try something new. Sometimes it’s a view of an alternative path from the one we first start following that brings us to the final goal. Sometimes it’s help from others using their abilities who are willing to help us, as my belayer was for me when I swung the distance I needed to get to the new path. But the key is that in it and through it and surrounded by it all is God. Presently I have no new adventures planned that might produce fear. But I trust that as God brings me opportunities in life that He wants me to grab ahold of I will once again experience the excitement that comes from following wherever He leads me.

  2. This is a reply from someone who wanted to remain anonymous:

    There is so much truth in this idea of fear. I think of my mother and the things she fears. She frets over the weather, crossing traffic, driving down a busy interstate. And, I try not to allow her fears to catapult into my life. Because I hear her talk about these subject matters so often. Like oh my your going out in this weather, the weather man said… Or you can’t drive downtown there is major construction how will you manage through it… Here she uses the media to make her fears part of her life. As you suggest I try to make the adventure exciting.

    But, I do recall a moment of great regret because fear stood in my way. In my study program aboard, I had an opportunity to travel overnight by bus to a remote village with a pastor and a friend to visit an orphanage. At that time I didn’t know I was putting up a road block but I said I wasn’t feeling good. I was afraid to commit to the unknown. And, it was a big unknown. I would be traveling down the back roads outside the city in the remote country of Tanzania. The city alone was intimidating; could not image the bus ride out to the unknown. Fear stopped me! My friend went on to have a smashing time with the children. The children were in a state of euphoria over my friend coming to visit.

    Your blog holds weight and adds value to your research on being an effective leader. An effective leader doesn’t shy away from the fear but transposes it into a positive moment to try to capture an audience that is unresponsive!

    • Thanks for this amazing insight!! That is definitely an area to consider: how to view adventures with excitement while others around you are trapped with fear. I’ll be sure to ponder that and will include it in a future post.

      I’ve missed out on adventures too. The important thing is that you chose to learn and grow from the experience.

      I’m inspired!!!

  3. Wow, this is a whole new way of looking at fear. I never thought of it this way and have to thank you for having a new more positive way to look at fear. I will begin practicing as the flight and fight syndrome can be so immobilizing. We have to step out in faith and not give into fear as being something awful that we want to run away from. (How many times have I done this!!!)
    Thank you for your new insight.

    • Laurie,
      Thanks so much for sharing your experience. The flight response is so ingrained in our subconscious and our genetics, that it does take a concerted effort to stop and analyze whether we really are in danger for our lives, or if we are just experiencing the nervousness that comes with doing new things. I’m excited for you!! Can’t wait to see what new things you will experience and enjoy. 🙂

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