“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.” – Seneca
Imagine you are standing backstage, getting ready to share your story and your message to millions of people. Your heart starts beating faster. Your palms become sweaty. The butterflies in your stomach go wild. You begin wondering, What if people hate me? What if they laugh at me? What if they reject me? This only makes you more nervous. Then Oprah announces your name. You pause. You breathe it all in. A few seconds later, you run out onto the stage in front of the world.
Now imagine yourself sitting at home on your couch. Within you lies an idea for a business or a book. Deep down, you know this is a great idea that could transform a countless number of lives. If you act on it, it could change your life as well. You would have more money and more freedom to do whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted. You start to get excited. Then you start to wonder, What if I fail? What if no one likes what I create? What if I can’t do it? Once again, you feel the fear, stress, and anxiety. But only this time, you let them win. The former experience is Fearvana. The latter experience is the real suffering that occurs when you choose not to engage your fears–the same kind of suffering I experienced [as an EOD tech sweeping for explosives in front of my Marine Corps convoy in Iraq day after day for seven months].
If you don’t choose a worthy struggle, struggle will choose you. And when it does, it will do far worse damage than the pain you will inevitably feel on the journey to greatness. As entrepreneur and bestselling author Jim Rohn said,
“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.”
Pain is not a bad thing. The greater your struggle, the greater the rewards from the victory on the other side. Which is why we, as a society, revere those who have triumphed over adversity to achieve success.
Fearvana is the bliss that results from engaging our fears to pursue our own worthy struggle. Fearvana is running a marathon, building a business, writing a book, or anything meaningful you pursue in service of your growth and happiness. When we bring [our fears] together with focused action, we become the greatest version of ourselves.
Write down the events in your life causing you fear, stress, or anxiety. You can also start with a a goal and write down the fears keeping you from taking action toward that goal.
Now write out the thoughts, feelings, hidden fears, and terrifying possible consequences behind these stressors in your life. Dig deep here to find why you are afraid, how those fears are stopping you, and what is holding you back. Think of all the things that could go wrong if you fail to reach your desired goal and write them down. A great exercise to help you find the subconscious meaning behind your fears is Toyota’s 5 Whys technique. The method is simple: ask yourself the why behind your initial stressor at least five times.
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