You can't move away from what scares you.
It's exactly the advice your mother didn't give you, unless your mom was a rule-breaker like my mine. Fear means go. This was one of my mom's favorite principles. She said it when I was petrified to go to school for the first time; she said it when I was going to be on live television and was nervous I had nothing valuable to say. She believed fear was a compass — an indicator of the direction you should go in if you want to become the person you have the potential to be.
Next time you're afraid of something, instead of turning around, take these three steps.
- Acknowledge you're afraid. Instead of swallowing or hiding your fear, and pretending you don't have it, look at it. For instance, if you are continuously avoiding a particular activity or person, have the courage to ask yourself "why?" Doing this requires honesty, authenticity, and vulnerability.
- Determine what kind of fear it is. Ask yourself: Is this a healthy fear that I need to pay attention to (e.g., Is there a hungry bear on the path ahead of me?) Or is this a fear rooted in my own insecurities and self-doubts? It can be difficult to tell the difference at times, but if you really want to know the answer, pay close attention to what your gut says.
- Acknowledge it as a gift. If it is an insecurity-based fear, it could be one of the most powerful gifts you'll ever receive. These fears are like a compass. They tell you where you need to go — toward that which scares you.
Over the years, I've learned that fear is a great teacher. If we pretend it doesn't exist, we miss out on all of its lessons. We aren't able to improve, become stronger, and build our self-confidence. On the other hand, if we embrace it as a guide, it can help us move through life's challenges and come into our ultimate purpose — making us more fulfilled, and increasing the positive impact we have on the world.