Are You Fueling Your Fears?
The Fear and fire have some very real similarities.
Fire is both destructive and incredibly useful. The same is true of fear!
Fire has the potential to quickly rage out of control. and when it does, it often destroys everything in its path – tress, plant life, wildlife, homes, businesses, and more.
Did you know that fighting wild fires in the US has also been incredibly costly? in fact, here some interesting facts about the cost of fighting wildfires:
- 2017 wildfires burned 10,026,086 acres and cost nearly $3 billion to fight.
- 2020 wildfires consumed 10,122,336 acres to the tune of nearly $2.3 billion.
- 2021 wildfires only consumed 7,125,643 acres, but cost a whopping $4.4 billion to fight! Wow!
A fire, especially a wild fire, also creates significant smoke which is harmful to those of us with breathing issues. And don’t overlook the psychological and emotional impact that fires have on their victims. If you’ve survived a house fire and lost precious memories – you understand that the cost of fire isn’t just measured in dollars.
Here’s the kicker: fire is also incredibly useful. Imagine all you’d give up if there was no fire! It heats, powers, cooks, sterilizes, cauterizes, keeps bugs away, and more! Fire is also used to clear fields, kill weeds, fertilize, and promote seed growth. You get the idea – fire isn’t all bad!
That leads me to another four-letter word that is also powerful: fear. Like fire, it’s both useful and destructive!
In order to burn, a fire needs heat, fuel, and oxygen – the fire triangle. A good boy scout also knows that you need something to ignite a fire (heat), fuel – tinder (small sticks and twigs), kindling (slightly bigger wood), and logs arranged in a teepee or log cabin that allows oxygen to circulate so the fire will thrive. Keeping the fire going requires encouraging the oxygen to circulate and adding additional wood (fuel).
Fear is no different. It has the potential to be a very negative force in your life and work when it keeps you from walking in all that God created you to be. It may also take a toll on your relationships by causing you to interact in unhealthy and unhelpful ways. Fear holds you back and limits you professionally. And it prevents you from enjoying the peace, confidence, and other life-giving emotions.
The Upside of Fear
But, there’s an upside to fear as well! It keeps you safe, and that’s a good thing and it lets you know what’s really important to you. And it tells you that you are venturing into uncharted territory and exiting your comfort zone. Fear invites you to step up, be brave, and to risk for something greater; something more rewarding. And believe it or not, fear is the pathway to greater confidence – that’s what happens when you face your fears.
While fear might seem to suddenly appear, it’s lurking behind the scenes. You might say it is opportunistic. Your negative thoughts and limiting beliefs are quietly fueling your fears and they allow your imagination to conjure up the wildest “what if” scenarios. It’s your thinking that is fanning the flames of fear in your life.
And guess what…the only one who fuels your it is YOU! And whatever you focus on and feed grows!
It’s time to stop fueling your fear, and here’s how:
Unfortunately, we often don’t even realize that fear is at work. Excuses, complaining, being exhausted, and not getting the results you desire in your life and work are all strong indicators that fear is at work in your life on some level. Another tip off: the language you use, so start noticing!
Choose to see fear as your friend, not your enemy. Then explore what it is revealing to you. Is it…
- Pointing out what’s important to you?
- Highlighting where you need to grow?
- Distracting you from God’s love?
- Trying to protect you?
- Preventing you from moving forward?
Fear is a normal part of life, especially when you are attempting to do something significant or to make changes. Notice the fear, re-frame it, and let it propel you forward.
3. Lean Into Love
The antidote to fear is love. There is much to explore here, but here are just three fun facts about fear versus love:
- FEAR makes you focus inward on yourself while LOVE keeps you focused on others.
- FEAR erodes your confidence while LOVE boosts it!
- FEAR keeps you in protective mode, while LOVE enables you to be authentic.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. I John 4:18 (NLT)
Again, what you focus on grows!
4. Take Action
Inaction breeds doubt and fuels fear.
Action breeds confidence and courage. You don’t have to take giant steps…baby steps count! Just do something even if it means taking a teeny tiny step.
5. Create Structure
Structure creates safety and stifles fear. Routines and rituals help to safeguard against fear. Here’s what I mean:
- Need to exercise? Create space in your morning routine – the same time each day.
- Trying to make 20 sales calls? Make that your first priority in your work day – everything afterwards will be so much easier!
- Does public speaking rattle your nerves? Create a pre-speaking routine: eat a mint, drink a glass of water, pray – something you do each time prior to speaking that’s calming and helps you focus.
Simple structures like these remove the uncomfortable anticipation that fear often evokes.
6. Gather Support
Facing your fears is not for the faint of heart! Surround yourself with trustworthy people who will support and encourage you through the process. And don’t overlook the benefits of enlisting the help of a coach.
Intentionally limit the time you spend with negative people, the news, or anything else that might chip away at your positive focus.
7. Practice Discomfort
Overcoming fear, making changes, and walking in your full potential requires you to step outside your comfort zone. I know that’s scary, but if you are going to grow, change, and experience the exciting adventure of life, it’s not going to happen inside your comfort zone! Trust me, when you look back later, you’ll realize a little discomfort was well worth it
Doing something new might feel awkward, but the more you attempt new experiences, the less funky “new” will seem. Practice in little ways every day by trying new foods, learning a new skill, or skipping social media for a day. Even silly things like brushing your teeth while standing on one leg lessens that feeling of discomfort.
8. Consider the Worst
Failure is not something you want, but the reality is that it happens to all of us. It’s frequently a fabulous learning experience if you allow it to be.
As you face your fear, ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that might happen?” Odds are, the likelihood of it actually happening – next to nil! Trying to avoid that worst case scenario by trying harder or avoiding the challenge altogether practically guarantees that your worst fear will become a reality.
When it comes to what you demand of yourself – don’t let perfection be one of them. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and try again and again.
9. Trust God
Lugging your fear and burdens around not only fuels your fears, but it is exhausting! Lay them at the feet of Jesus. He cares for you! No one understands your fears or your current situation like He does! He loves you deeply andHe always has! He knows you are weak and He longs to be your strength. That’s when He’s most glorified!
Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. I Peter 5:7 (NIV)
For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10b (NIV)
Fear, like fire, is a killer – a killer of hopes, dreams, careers, relationships, and more.
Fear, like fire, is also a gift. Search for the gift in your fear-filled moments. Rather than fueling your fear, take the bold step of confronting it.
A fearless leader not only confronts their own fear, but is able to reassure others and enable them to face their fears too. Together they are able to keep pursuing goals.
How are you fueling your fear and what steps will you take today to confront it?
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