British adventurist Sir Ranulph Fiennes has been called the world’s greatest living explorer. He’s navigated some of the worlds most challenging and inhospitable places on earth including trekking the Antarctic and both North and South Poles, unsupported and on foot.
When he was in his 60’s, Fiennes decided to overcome a severe fear of heights by climbing Mt. Everest. On his second attempt, hundreds of feet short of the summit, he suffered severe chest pains, at night, dangling from a rope on a near vertical ice wall at 29,000 feet. Frozen and in pain, he turned around and somehow managed to descend. He lived to tell the tale, running a marathon a mere 16 weeks after his near fatal heart attack.
When it comes to facing your fears how daring are you? Do you turn tail and head in the opposite direction? Do you waver and hope the feeling passes? Or, do you, like Fiennes, stand firm and always face your fears head on?
Picture what your life would look like if you consistently faced off against your fears, both big and small, with the fearlessness of someone like Sir Ranulph Fiennes. What would it feel like to boldly stare down and confront your fears, never letting them interfere with what you want to accomplish? Imagine what you could achieve if you never again let fear get in your way.
The truth is, the closest most of us will get to scaling Mt. Everest is flying past it en route to a comfortable vacation destination. But there is good news; you don’t have to be an adrenaline junkie, risking life and limb, to be fearless. Life offers plenty of everyday opportunities for us to face our fears. Whether it’s asking your crush out on a date, speaking in public, or asking for a raise, no fear is too big or to small to challenge – and we all have within us the potential to be fearless.
The first step to becoming more fearless begins with understanding fear – what it is, what scares us (and why), and how fear holds us back from living a full and fulfilling life. Once we gain some insight into our fears, fearlessness can become second nature.
If you want to be more fearless, more often, let’s start by exploring what scares you.
“Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.” C. Joy Bell
We all know what fear feels like – dread, tension, difficulty breathing, rapid heartbeat, sweating, racing thoughts, and ‘butterflies’ are just a few of the feelings we associate with fear.
It’s no wonder so many of us choose, one way or another, to sidestep our fears. After all, who wants to feel those uncomfortable feelings?
But what if your fears aren’t designed to scare you? What if, instead, your fears were a doorway into new and exciting prospects? What if fear is an opportunity for personal growth in disguise?
What is Fear?
The word ‘fear’ derives from the Old English word faer, meaning sudden attack, peril, or danger. Simply put, fear is an emotional response to a perceived threat. It’s primitive. It’s powerful. It’s universal. Fear is like an internal alarm; it’s designed to warn us and protect us from danger.
There are two types of fear responses: biochemical and emotional.
Biochemical Fear is a natural emotion resulting from a perceived threat and is designed to make us more alert and responsive as a way to survive. When this happens, our bodies respond in specific ways such as sweating, increased heart rate, increased awareness, and high adrenaline levels. This state of fear is often ref