Is Ignoring Your Fear Courageous Or Foolish?

Everything you hear these days, from spiritual leaders in Oprah Winfrey’s book “The Path Made Clear,” to Life Coach Martha Beck’s advice in her best seller “Finding Your Way In A Wild New World,” seem to be giving two conflicting messages. On the one hand they say that in order to live your most authentic, fulfilling life you should live your truth, and let fears of social objection take a back seat. On the other hand they say to be still and listen closely to your body, and to use negative physical reactions as guides to making choices that are more harmonious and healthier for you. So which one do you do? Do you tremble in fear, sometimes getting to the point of being physically ill while you charge ahead making bold life choices, or do you let your fear serve as a warning signal of dangerous situations and actions, and avoid them, perhaps cheating yourself out of enriching your life?

After experiencing the consequences of taking some risky action lately, even though a voice inside me was fearful, to the point where I had some clear dreams of danger ahead, I came up with a simple method to help make the best decision. First of all, if you are thinking of doing anything at all risky, that in itself warrants taking a moment of stillness to check in with yourself to see if you are feeling fearful. This sounds easy, but when you’re determined to do something, it can be hard to think to take a minute and let it settle in you before taking action.

Once you are aware that you’re feeling somewhat fearful, let that be your cue to take a step back, and apply some wisdom to the situation. In other words, be W.I.S.E.

W – Weigh
I – In
S – Social
E – Ego

I have found that it’s easy for me to take bold action, marching past my fears, if I believe I’ll get a reward that will serve my social ego. In other words, if I’ll get approval or a feeling of accomplishment or superiority according to our social rules and expectations, I am more likely to forge ahead, possibly discovering unwanted consequences in the end. If I take ‘receiving social rewards for my ego’ out of the picture, and let myself reflect on taking the action without any social recognition of any kind, it is much easier to evaluate whether it is worth the damage it could cause, or benefits it could create. In my experience the universe tends to keep my soul on track, and my ego in check.

So next time you consider taking bold action, take a minute, weigh in the reasons why your social ego might want you to do it, and consider if those reasons are really in the best interest of having a calm, happy, creative worry-free life. Sometimes courageous moves break us free to do the things that make us the happiest in the quietness of our souls, and sometimes they simply bring pain, struggle, and drama, minimizing any social reward they might bring. The only one you really have to answer to is yourself, so be kind, thoughtful, and WISE.

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