DW's Blog


by DW Green — December 11, 2018

False Evidence Appearing Real

I attended my sixth annual, 3 day leadership retreat in Seattle last week. Pretty much the same group of amazing leaders. It was an excellent experience. The best one for me to date. One of the topics that came up in discussion was fear. We all experience fear and it can get the best of us from time to time. When I returned home I did a little research on fear. Interesting. The following was written by Rachelle Williams.

Fear. That pesky feeling that arises when you are at your most vulnerable. It roots itself deep within you, telling stories that seem so real that your body responds as if it is true. It can be such a visceral feeling that at times you’d rather acquiesce to than challenge it.

It’s a given that fear is part of the human experience, but where does it come from and why does it sometimes dominate your life? How do some people navigate through the fear and come out the other end not only intact but even happier? Yes, it’s possible that the best things in life are on the other side of fear.

Perhaps it’s not fear itself that you need to be afraid of, but how you carry the fear. Fear will always be a part of your life, but it doesn’t have to be in the way that you may think. What if you turn fear into a motivator? How different your life could be!

What is fear? Here is a helpful acronym:

  • False
  • Evidence
  • Appearing
  • Real

Your fears may be myriad and their roots can be deep and difficult to overcome. Most often they are steeped in irrational thought, having you believe things that impede you from living life to the fullest. This is not to negate what you are experiencing as something that can be easily tossed aside. Your fears are real to you. Your body is alerting you to something that is wrong and this shouldn’t be ignored. The challenge becomes learning how to identify the type of fear you experience. Identifying means you must face the fear and get to know it.

At its most basic level, fear can be categorized into two types: survival and irrational. Survival fear is anything you experience to help you stay alive such as the feeling when approaching the edge of a cliff or facing a predator. An example of irrational fear is when your dreams of becoming an artist, dancer, or teacher are thwarted by the feeling of grave danger. Once identified, appropriate steps can be taken to begin navigating through the emotion.

Fear limits you in every possible way. As you feel your body constricting and tensing, the same happens within your mind. It becomes hard to see beyond to other possibilities, confining attention and energy to only what’s in front of you. You are familiar with self-talk that plays over and over in your mind and the accompanying feelings when confronting something that is uncomfortable. You must learn this to acknowledge that this is not representative of the real you.

There will always be challenges in life, but using fear as your guide rather than treating it as your enemy will change how you tackle those challenges. In the words of theoretical physicist Albert Einstein, “You cannot solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” You cannot conquer fear from a place of fear. Instead, get to know it, appreciate it for what it is and does for you, then take actions that lead in the direction of love and fulfillment.

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