Fear can be debilitating – stopping us in our tracks and altering our life paths completely – but it doesn’t have to. This week we took to YouTube to discuss the roadblocks and challenges we face in life and how they are connected to FEAR.
Have you heard that famous quote from U.S. President John F. Kennedy? Perhaps you have, but you have not. Regardless, it is something that Nathalie and I stand by wholeheartedly and each work toward achieving in our own lives. I say work because that’s what it is – it’s work. It doesn’t come naturally.Facing fears, pushing through them, and coming out the other side is a feat. Our fears are there to protect us so we naturally shy away from confronting them. As discussed in a post I wrote about the fear response, however, this natural safety alarm can get out of hand and not only can that have an effect on how we interpret the world around us, it can even have negative effects on our health.
THIS is when we need to push through – when there is actually nothing to fear at all or when we know that the positives could potentially outweigh the negatives.
Facing fears, pushing through them, and coming out the other side is a feat. Our fears are there to protect us so we naturally shy away from confronting them. As discussed in a post I wrote about the fear response, however, this natural safety alarm can get out of hand. THIS is when we need to push through – when there is actually nothing to fear at all or when we know that the positives could potentially outweigh the negatives.
But what does fear and the concept of facing our fears have to do with roadblocks and challenges? What the hell am I talking about?
What Are Roadblocks and Challenges?
Roadblocks and challenges are things that stand in your way as you try to continue down your life path. In the Handbook for Personal Healing book Nathalie and I recently published, we discuss roadblocks and challenges in much more detail:
A roadblock is something that stands in your way and blocks the road completely. This is where detours come in. Despite your best efforts and your awesome navigational skills, you will sometimes be forced to find an alternative route to reach your destination.
A challenge is a little bit different than a roadblock. Instead of being insurmountable, a challenge is difficult. A roadblock is like a washed out bridge – you have to find a way around. A challenge is like a fallen tree across your path – you can still get down the path but you will have to be creative and put in the necessary effort to do so. A challenge is within your control.
In our private Facebook group (the I&E Squad) we were asked to talk more about this topic after the release of the book. People wanted to know more about how to take on their roadblocks and challenges. In working through the book myself I came across a bit of an epiphany that I think a lot of people will relate to.
The Link Between Fear and Roadblocks
So, here’s the epiphany: Many people think they are seeing roadblocks when they are actually just seeing challenges. Why can’t they see these things for what they are? Because fear amplifies the challenges we face and makes them seem like roadblocks. We look at something difficult which is not impossible and allow our fear to decide for us that it IS impossible.
Sometimes this fear has a true basis in reality – maybe something bad could actually happen if we push through the barrier and make our way down the path. But, as Kristi Hedges of Forbes.com points out, it can be difficult to separate realistic caution from unrealistic fears.
For example, imagine a girl who has a plan to go to college to become a veterinarian. This has been her plan her entire life. She has always seen that as part of her path. Now that she is old enough to go to college she realizes that the only colleges with a veterinarian program are at least 3 hours away from her home. She is afraid to move away because she is afraid to live on her own, so she decides that she must change her entire life plan. She sees this issue as a ROADBLOCK – something blocking the road of her life’s path and redirecting her down a new path. In actuality, though, it doesn’t have to be a roadblock. She can find a way to overcome her fears and continue down the path she has dreamed of her whole life.
Not sure how your fear is related to your particular roadblock/challenge? This helpful article from LifeHack.com explores 10 prominent fears that often hold people back from achieving their true potential.
Facing Fears to Stop Challenges from Becoming Roadblocks
Recognizing that your fear is a challenge to overcome instead of a roadblock to avoid is one thing, actually pushing through that fear is something entirely different. We get that. Sometimes your fear will have little basis in reality so pushing through it will just require effort.
When Your Fear Has a Basis in Reality
Other times your fear will have some really good points to make. For instance, maybe our imaginary girl in the section above is afraid to leave because one of her parents is ill and she worries that her parent will pass away while she is gone. In these cases facing your fear will require extreme courage. And maybe you won’t face it right away – maybe you will do a pros and cons list and decide that now isn’t the right time. Maybe you will just have to find a creative way to deal with the issue. For example, our imaginary girl can choose to postpone her dreams of attending college or to see if her school will allow her to take some courses from home so she can spend half her time in her college’s city and half of her time in her hometown.
When Your Fear Has No Basis in Reality
This is when it can be helpful to looking into getting help for dealing with anxiety issues. Getting help for this doesn’t mean you have an anxiety disorder – it just means that you need help conquering something. It’s actually a very human thing to need help, after all, we became social creatures for a reason.
This help could be in the form of therapy, talking to family and friends, having someone hold you responsible for your fears and remind you of the positive outcomes, completing pros and cons lists, having someone accompany you as you face your fear, getting other viewpoints so you can find creative ways around the problem, and much more.