All of us struggle with fear. It’s human nature. Fear has one big weapon against us: pain.
Think of the things you’re most fearful of and every one of them involves pain. Pain is inevitable in life.
It can be something that you dread ever having happen to you. It can be something you’ve already experienced that you never want to have happen again.
It can be caused by insecurities that you have about yourself, your abilities, your weaknesses, or what you don’t know.
Pain creates imprints in our minds and hearts that cause us to want to avoid anything that looks or feels like discomfort in any way.
Pain doesn’t have to be a hindrance to the life you want. Get help, direction, and be free from the fear of pain with a quick strategy session here.
Fear is a big subject that I talk a lot about. It’s the theme of this episode of The Appetizer Radio Show, illustrated through a variety of subjects covered by alt-rock and punk bands like Blink 182, Dry The River, P.O.D., Face to Face and more.
For most of us, pain is caused from bad experiences where someone hurt you, didn’t accept you (rejection and/or abandonment), you lost something or someone, or a result you wanted to happen that went in the opposite direction.
Most pain isn’t physical, but sometimes physical pain leads to fear too.
Often our worst fears are in our minds
We dwell on what could happen, on how something could go that will be a repeat of a negative past experience. So what do we do with fear?
Often, we run from it.
This was my story for most of my life. I’m a small-framed dude (as you can see in the video above). I’ve been on the short and skinny side of body-types since the beginning of my existence.
Subsequently, I was picked on, bullied, and treated as less than for a lot of my adolescence. This led to a ton of insecurities and fears about how others saw me.
But mostly, it had everything to do with how I saw myself. I saw myself as someone who would be overlooked, undervalued, taken advantage of, and put down.
So I ran from people a lot. I could make friends fairly easily. But deep down inside I was afraid that my friends would wake up one day and see the short skinny kid I saw in the mirror and not want to hang around me anymore. Fear was the result of my negative self-perception.
Can you relate to that fear?
When fear became something I could no longer run from
Being a small framed dude, I was also perpetually afraid of getting beaten up. Mostly by strangers or people I didn’t know.
This culminated into an experience I had standing on a street corner one day where I was crossing to go see a friend. I needed to walk across the street, and down the block to go see him.
But at the intersection where I was walking, I looked to the other side of the road and saw this thuggish, rough-looking dude.
And admittedly, I judged his character in that moment as someone who was going to jump me, beat me up, and take whatever money I had on me.
I had no viable reason to suspect the guy other than his choice of clothing and the look on his face. But in my fear, I determined that he had ill-intentions and would cause me physical harm.
So what did I do? I decided to make a 90-degree turn and cross a different street, going 4.5 blocks around to get to where I wanted to go. I justified this choice by telling myself I needed the exercise, which is a bullshit thing to do to justify giving in to fear.
While I walked the extra few blocks, this still inner voice spoke to me. It said, “How much longer are you going to live this way? You’re a grown-ass man. Do you want to live like this for the rest of your life?”
I was 27 years old and was building what would become a prominent career in radio and music. Yet I was afraid to cross the street because of some stranger I didn’t know. What the hell was up with that?
The decision that led to breakthrough and forever changed my life
I decided that enough was enough. I was tired of running. I was tired of letting fear control my actions and attitudes about myself and others. I had to do something to change it.
So I made a few phone calls when I got back home and decided to join a boxing gym. I figured, what better way to get over my fear of getting beaten up by putting myself in a place where that would likely happen? But in the process I hoped to learn how to defend myself.
In the end I gained so much more than knowledge and experience in fighting. I gained confidence, perspective, and some core principles that have carried with me into my personal and professional life in ways that have led to exponential success.
Be solid to win in life & climb out of the pit of fear
One of those core principles is the art of being solid. Solid as a person. Solid as a friend. Solid as a member of communities that help others.
When people see me they think I ooze confidence. Maybe. But confidence has come by facing the things that I’m most afraid of and not backing down from them.
Fear wants to keep you out of the game of life. But it’s up to you to climb out. And in doing that climb, you regain your heart, mind, and confidence.
In that boxing gym I climbed out of my pit.
It was a hard climb. There were tough days. There were days where I dreaded going.
Especially when I knew I was going to be sparring. Sparring is when you put all the principles, techniques, and exercises into use against a real opponent. One that hits you back. One that is also trying to get out in one piece.
Will you face your fear or continue to run from it?
Few things in life are easy. Facing fears is certainly not one of them. But it’s what has to be done in order to be free.
Freedom is the gift of doing what you want without hindrance or opposition. For many of us, fear is the biggest opposition we will face to having real freedom.
What will you do to overcome your fear?
On a practical standpoint, it may be starting a practice of retraining your mind to accept yourself instead of reject yourself. The practice of mantras and affirmations are helpful here (see below for more help).
It may be doing the work of putting yourself in situations where you face what you dread, be that getting in front of people in a business situation where your skills and talents could be questioned.
It may be asking that lady or man out of a date, when you’ve previously thought they were out of your league.
It may be volunteering to do a presentation where you have to speak publicly, when you’ve told yourself too often that no one wants to listen to you.
Or it could be that you put on some gloves and step into a ring where you get to test to see what you’re really made of.
In any case, running from what you fear will move you backwards because you’re not operating out of your greatness. You’re operating out of your doubts about who you are and what you can do.
Facing your fears will bring you clarity and confidence
When you run away from something, you can’t see what it is that was worth hiding from. But, when you face your fears you’re able to articulate the truth much better.
Often, you realize that what you were afraid of isn’t as bad as you thought it was. Which leads to confidence and a growth in character.
Clarity comes when we see things for what they really are. When we choose to have courage in the face of obstacles, we see the intricacies and details that were once hidden from us.
Which leads to growth. And change. And a different result in the end.
Decide who you want to be and become that person
What kind of person do you want to be? Do you want to be someone who runs, who quits when things get challenging, and who gives up on yourself? Or do you want to be a champion in life, full of confidence and strength?
A person who is solid, uncommon, and whole is one who doesn’t let the past dictate the future, who doesn’t listen to the voice of fear but instead digs deep inside to overcome any challenge that stands in the way.
This is the person I’m dedicated to become. And I’m dedicated to helping you get to your greatness too.
If fears have been an obstacle for you, keeping you from achieving peace, confidence, and success, let’s talk. I’ll help you overcome your fears and the pains that are holding you back from the life you want.
In my new book Be Solid: How To Go Through Hell And Come Out Whole (due out in late 2018), I share more insights into how boxing changing my life, how to heal from loss and pain, and how to become a person who can overcome any obstacle instead of letting challenges get the better of you.
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