What Fear Is Protecting You From

Your fear is protecting you. Keeping you safe. Insulating you. A cheap yet costly insurance plan.

Your fear is a watchdog, an alarm, a siren in the dead of night. Your fear hands you a brochure with the claim that as long as you stayed scared, nothing bad will ever happen to you.

The Fear Brochure reads:

  • When you are afraid, you will never take stupid risks or make impulsive decisions.
  • You will always proceed with caution, slowly, quietly.
  • You will never disrupt.
  • No one will ever stop a meeting to stare at you as you come in late.
  • No one will write angry blog posts about your intrepid actions to save or rescue or protect.
  • You will never be satirized on Saturday Night Live.
  • You will never have a nasty tell-all biography written about you.
  • You will never get your heart broken.
  • Your funeral will be small but manageable.
  • Your life will be relatively predictable.
  • You will never be publicly shamed.
  • You will never be ridiculed.
  • Your face will never be displayed on billboards as the Imbecile of the Year.
  • You will never fail. Or if by some fatal flaw in the system you do fail, no one will have to know.

But here’s the fine print:

On the other side of fear is your dream.

Fear claims to protect you from pain, and even that is a boldly false assertion. Fear may be able to guard us against risks and heartbreak, but fear won’t protect you from regret. In fact, regret is a fear side effect. Fear sets you up for regret, for missing “the moment”. Fear hesitates, gets clammy, chokes up your words. Fear paralyzes. Fear and regret are cousins.

Fear feels safely familiar, until the regret sets in. And regret is almost always worse than pain. Pain heals, but regret means you’ve missed something. Missed an opportunity, missed becoming who you are supposed to be.

Most of us are hiding from shame and vulnerability. It feels safe behind the veil of fear. But let me assure you, your greatest moments are the ones in front of the curtain. Life is meant to be lived in the open, sometimes moving blindly and unarmed toward the adventures and the people who compel us. It’s going to a terrifying risk and a guaranteed mess some days, but it’s probably not going to be a mess you regret.

So let’s weigh our options. Fear or courage? Regret or destiny? Fear or triumph? Regret or growing confidence in our strength? Well, when I say it like that, it makes it a little easier.

Fear is the wall between where you are now and who you are designed to be. So let’s toss the Fear Brochure in the trash and take John Acuff’s advice: “Punch fear in the face”. 

Here’s a brave question: What kind of fear is keeping you from moving toward your dreams?

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