One of the things we tend to do habitually is move away from things we’re afraid of. How very human, how very loving, to protect ourselves!
Unfortunately that tendency to avoid fears is exactly what limits us.
We avoid our fear of pain, humiliation, anxiety, looking stupid, failing … and we develop all kinds of ways to protect ourselves, from walling ourselves off from danger and being overwhelmed, to avoiding difficult conversations, difficult projects, and any situations where we might flop on our faces.
But how can we connect with others in an intimate way if we avoid being vulnerable? How can we become more loving in our relationships if we avoid putting our pride aside and having those scary conversations?
How can we ever push into a new project, start a new business, pursue what we love … if we constantly put it off for fear of looking like an idiot?
How can we learn anything if we look for certainty and avoid uncertainty? You can’t learn chess (for example) without playing a bunch of games and losing them … so we avoid real learning and just read about it. Real learning is postponed while we shirk from uncertainty.
We want someone to give us the magic answer when the real answer is that we have to become uncomfortable, we have to work hard, we have to allow ourselves to feel fear.
So the answer is to stop running. Instead, move towards the fear.
When you are feeling afraid of going to a social event, move towards that fear. Do it, and don’t allow yourself to run.
When you notice yourself wanting to avoid a conversation, steel yourself up and freakin’ initiate it.
When you are procrastinating on the hard stuff, open your heart to it and move towards it.
The fear you feel, the anxiety … it is your beacon. It is the place you should go to, instead of moving away from.
The fear is the place where you’ll grow. It’s where you’ll learn, and love, and connect, and become free of all your old limitations.
The fear sucks. And yet it is the most beautiful place in the world. Learn to love the beautiful suck, and be in that place whenever you can possibly stand it.
Contributed: Leo Babauta, Zen Habits