Our most common fear is the fear of the unknown. "Will my children be safe, healthy, and happy?" "Will I keep my job, or find one, or will that rumored buyout really happen?" "Will the terrorists strike again and will the war ever end?" "Will I ever be successful?" "Will I have enough for retirement?" "I wonder if my health will fail this year?" This list of unknowns never ends and changes every day.
These plus many other common and legitimate questions fill our heads much of the time. However, how we face these unknowns determines if they snowball into fear, worry and panic or are cause for reflection, perspective and change. If we live our life from fear, rather than recognizing the true purpose of fear, we will erode the quality of our lives, our decisions and our relationships. When fear rules our lives, we become a prisoner of our own thoughts.
As FDR (Roosevelt) once said, "We have nothing to fear, but fear itself." And he was facing The Great Depression and WWII. We may think that we face times of even greater change and uncertainty; each generation gives legitimacy to their fears and truly believes this is the scariest of times. Is it the times or is it how we are dealing with the times?
If we let fear control our thoughts, we'll have less peace of mind and physical health, our decisions will be limited and our relationships will suffer.
Fear has become an addiction in our culture and the media, pundits, politicians and advertisers all know this and are capitalizing on our culture of fear in order to control our buying and voting habits. Without immunity to this fear-mongering, we fall prey to the manipulations of others trying to control our lives.
In my new book, "Fearproof Your Life," I show how fear is created; it's true purpose, and how to live life from a fearless state, so you can develop your own psychological immunity. As a result of living fearlessly, thinking becomes clearer, wiser, more responsive and less reactive; we access our creative ability and bring more fun into our lives.
Have you ever noticed that most of the things we worry and fret about don't actually come to pass? When we become trapped in unhealthy fear, we loose perspective and fearful thinking begins to control our lives-our sleep, our health and our daily decisions suffer as a result.
I often talk about fear as an acronym: F.alse E.vidence A.ppearing R.eal. How many times have I worried about a public talk or a difficult conversation with a friend or family member, all for naught? Our habit is to search our memories for similar situations that went badly and project these memories into the unknown of what might happen.
I am not saying that fear doesn't have a legitimate purpose for our survival. It signals us to address an issue in our lives or in the world. Fear is not there to ruin the quality of our lives-it's a reminder to reflect, to change and to act in a new way. Once we are aware of this distinction, we have a choice about how we respond to our fears.
Would you like fearlessness, courage and positive actions to fill your New Year and make your life and the lives of others more prosperous, happier and fulfilling? If so keep these principles in mind:
1. F.E.A.R. is a result of our thinking. Emotions, including fear, are a result of how we use our gift of thinking in this moment. Fortunately, the sensation of fear and worry can make us aware of our habits of unproductive fearful thinking.
2. Fear is an alarm clock to wake us up and be more conscious. Fear brings us vital information, when we clear our mind and reflect we gain instant perspective and the ability to discern the difference between false evidence appearing real and the need to take action for safety, balance or opportunity.
3. Learn to trust your Self (your instincts, intuition and insights). When we trust ourselves, worry and second-guessing our decisions fall away; we have the courage to act and speak our truth to others and to the world.
4. Don't be a victim; take responsibility for your life and your experience of it. You are the creator of your thoughts, emotions and thus, your experience of life. Use this power to create wisely; let it guide you to success, happiness and empowerment.
Will 2008 become another year of fear or will you face your fearful habits and live the New Year from insight and discernment?
Facing fear will empower you to take risks on your dreams, aspirations and hopes. You will be an instrument of change in your life and the lives of others. Which path will you choose-fear or courage?
Joseph Bailey is an author and psychologist. He's written five books including his best seller, Slowing Down to the Speed of Life (with Richard Carlson) and his latest book addressing fear is: Fearproof Your Life (How to Thrive in a World Addicted to Fear) Conari Press, 2007. You can learn more about Joe's book and his work at his website: www.fearproofyourlife.com.