Big changes can often bring about fear. A new step in life creates uncertainly around how the next step will go and how things will unfold. Consider the big changes that are happening in the US government right now as an example. Facebook and twitter are filled with people expressing fears over what the next few years (or even months) will bring now that America has new leadership. How will Trump change the face of politics and what we know as normal in America? Is that wall really going to be built and will we have a major fallout with our neighbor to the south, many wonder? Is our government really going to keep people from the 7 countries listed in this week’s executive order out of the US short term or indefinitely?
But this post isn’t about politics; it is about living life unafraid…because we never know what the future will bring. Administrations change. Unexpected natural disasters will come. People will make choices we don’t like…and we can’t undo.
We never know what will come next…but we can choose to live life unafraid!
In times when the future feels really unknown, fear can creep in fast…and it can be oh so sneaky moving into our life. It doesn’t always come from reliable sources and it doesn’t always tell us the truth. (Of course, sometimes fear is incredibly legitimate and serves as a warning. Our brains are wired to protect us when we are threatened and we are wise to heed these warnings.) Living life unafraid doesn’t mean we don’t have fear. It doesn’t mean that we ignore the legitimate red flags of fear when our livelihood is threatened.
Choosing to live life unafraid means looking at the sources of our fear and determining what to do with that fear. It means living a life not ruled by our fears. It means knowing that each decision has potential to unfold differently than we had planned, yet still moving forward, trusting that in the end life will work out for us one way or another.
We could let fear of rejection, setback, humiliation, or pain stop us from going after our goals. We could let fear of failing…maybe once again…stop us from getting back on the horse to try one more time. But what kind of life is that? What would we have to look back on when all is said and done if we live afraid?
Our life might look a little bit like that of the Croods (DreamWork Animations’ first modern family), always afraid of something new, running back into the cave at any small threat. I watched this movie for the first time this last week and I will honestly say that sometimes hiding in my cave can seem way more appealing than facing my fears.
But over the years, especially when I was an active competitive athlete, I’ve learned that living life ruled by the fear of what might happen is such a limiting existence. It is no way I want to live! I want to live my life unafraid!
I was a competitive diver in high school and college (like the kind in the Olympics that spins a lot, not the kind that wears a scuba tank). Fear came into play a lot when I started training on the 3m (or high dive) in college (at Claremont McKenna College). Learning new dives up there could certainly challenge my determination! Not landing just right hurt a lot more than on the 1m (or low dive). Plus, on the 3m you had so much more air time…more room to fall…and get lost, not knowing which way was up or down. All of my teammates were accustomed to fear and I’ll always remember one practice where it really came into play.
During my first year of college my teammates and I had a hard time understanding our Eastern European coach Oleg as he instructed us from across the pool. He’d watch us dive and give us corrections and encouragement, usually all helpful insights and instructions. One day we were really quite stumped by his remarks. He was encouraging one of our teammates to “bend more here” (pointing near his waist), but unfortunately with his thick accent somehow all we got from across the pool was “Unscrew Your Fear”. This response to a dive seemed a bit odd, but at the same time it made sense in our sport because we often had to muster up the courage to try a dive one more time.
The funny phrase “Unscrew Your Fear” became our motto that year and we even got t-shirts printed declaring the descriptive phrase to serve as a continual reminder. We didn’t want our fear to stop us, even though we had legitimate reasons for concern! We had bigger accomplishments in mind!
We had to choose every time we stepped on the board if we were going to let fear of physical pain, failure, or the scary sensation of spinning lost in the world stop us from trying something new, or something hard, just one more time. We had our goals. We knew our priorities and the physical skills we’d worked hard to polish. We just needed to decide who would win – our fear or our determination! This doesn’t mean that our next attempt at the dive was perfect, but it did mean that our bravery grew with each attempt. We learned that there is often a reward for pushing through our fears and that we’d end up feeling good if we could just “Unscrew Our Fear” a little bit further.
It’s been almost 15 years since that day at the pool, yet I remember what being an athlete taught me about mastering and controlling my fear. (You can see the date of early 2003 in one picture. That was my senior year…how time flies!)
Although I am not always successful at it, I try to live life unafraid, really understanding where my fear is coming from and seeing if it is legitimate. I want to live life the way I want, not letting my fears hold me back, and I want that for you too. It is just as St. Paul wished for Timothy when he wrote “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but one of power, love and self-discipline.” Let’s not allow a spirit of fear and timidity to rule our lives!
So how do we start living this way, living unafraid? As an athlete we had goals and priorities that guided us, and strengths and skills that gave us confidence. These pieces can guide our life as well, but only if we know our goals, priorities, strengths and skills well! Knowing these things about yourself is part of increasing your sense of Life-Clarity,, and this has been key for me time and time again since my college days! Knowing my values better helps me confidently decide on all types of big life decisions like which jobs to take or where to live. Knowing my personality (one that tends towards loving structure) helps me extend grace to myself when my life loses some of its stability and I get nervous. Knowing my professional purpose in life (to help others create greater Life-Clarity) guides my writing and coaching and every decision I make for my business. Having a vision for the future keeps me motivated to accomplish my goals. Being rooted in my belief systems and worldviews gives me confidence in how to interact with people from a different race, lifestyle or upbringing. This clarity that I’ve gained helps me know the life I want to lead and the kind of person I want to be!
With greater Life-Clarity I have more arsenal to master my fears and continue leading the life I want. That’s what I want for you too; to lead a life that is not ruled by fear!
Let’s end with a moment to think:
- Is there a fear that is holding you back from taking action in some area in your life?
- If so, is this fear legitimate and providing some type of warning or is it something that you are using to protect yourself from something unwanted like possible rejection, setback, humiliation or pain?
- What would you start doing today if you no longer felt afraid?
We all can answer yes to the first question at some time in our lives. Yet we also have the opportunity to move through that time of fear and enter into a place of freedom, confidence and courage. If fear has the best of you right now, there is no shame in that! I have certainly been there before. My purpose is to help you figure out how to live life unafraid, my friend, so if I can be of help let’s connect any way you prefer!
The video below will take you on a short field trip with me to the Estes Park Aquatic Center near my home. Come get on the diving board with me and take a moment to “unscrew your fear” just a little farther!
This content first published by Jessica Lynn Johnson in 2017 on www.JLJCoachingServices.com