Learning to love fear is a crucial life lesson.
You know that feeling you get in your gut when you are about to say something in front of a group of people, where your heart might start pounding so hard you can hear it rattling in your chest, and your voice wavers as you talk? Or if you are about to attempt to accomplish something monumental, like run a marathon. Those are feelings we should learn to love.
The problem many people, myself included, struggle with is that we don’t like the discomfort. We hate the discomfort. We think we need to do whatever it takes to avoid this feeling.
We think there is something wrong with us. We think we’d better calm down or it will be really bad for us.
Yet the exact opposite is true.
I did not fully accept this until I viewed a TED Talk video called How to make stress your friend, by Kelly McGonigal.
That life changing video can flip a switch in your mind that says you’ve been doing it wrong all this time. You have been trying to avoid anything that causes you stress, or at the very least, you have always fought hard to stay calm when such feelings appear.
Instead, we should be glad when fear and stress show up because it is our body’s way of giving us energy and focus to do something that we deem important. And as long as the cause of those feelings isn’t something that puts us at risk of injury or death, we should immerse ourselves in it, not run away. We can thank the fear, let it energize us, and focus on doing the thing we need to do while it keeps us sharp.
Because fear and stress are a sign that you are living and you are doing things that are meaningful. It is especially important to create a mindset where you are trying to help other people, and where you exchange your ego for a humble, giving attitude. Then the energy of your fear is properly directed, rather than just trying to make yourself look good or avoid humiliation.
Like anything, this does take practice–embracing fear; loving it instead of going through life dodging it. But it is well worth it, and a much better way to live.