“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Paralysis by Analysis
I was sitting with a group of friends at a coffee shop and we were talking about work and one of the guys said, “I never know what choice to make when I have too many options, I end up with paralysis by analysis.” I had never heard this phrase, but I know how common it can be. For me this can happen when I really want both a piece of chocolate cake and a pumpkin scone. But for others, this can happen when it comes to stepping in a new direction in life, like choosing a big investment, whether or not to have more children, buying a new car or home, firing an employee, or whether or not to end a relationship. When there is a lot on the line, then fear can be overwhelming. But facing our fears is the only way to move past mediocrity and truly realizing our greatness.
Why Do Some People Fear the Wrong Things?
“How can we use statistics to evaluate risk? Dig into the difference between relative risk and absolute risk and how each is used in the news.”
I really like the video from Gerd Gigerenzer because it shows how we present data can sometimes change the overall impact. I am not opposed to making an informed decision, but sometimes the best thing to do is trust your gut and just act. If you want to try something, try it. One of my favorite quotes from Shelby in Steel Magnolias, “I would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.”
Chaos theory, according to dictionary.com is:
the branch of mathematics that deals with complex systems whose behavior is highly sensitive to slight changes in conditions, so that small alterations can give rise to strikingly great consequences.
In the Ted Talk above by Gerd Gigerenzer, there is a quote that says, “choices that reduce some risks, can put you in the path of others.” When it comes to facing your fear it can be easy to get caught up in the “what ifs”, and by trying to avoid one thing, you may actually end up with something worse. It’s like those time travel movies, like Back to the Future, where someone goes back in time and changes one small thing and it impacts the future in massive ways. I can’t help but think of George McFly and Biff and how before Marty goes back in time, George is presented as pathetic and weak, but Marty’s involvement in the past makes him the strong one and the bully the weak one.
Face Your Fears Whenever You Can
According to Dr. Susan Haas, we should face our fears whenever we can: “Face your fears whenever you can. Notice the powerful urge to avoid, and don’t give in to it. In most situations, it is worse for you and your life to avoid what you are afraid of instead of facing it.Taking those small, positive, steady steps to banish your fear will do wonders to calm down your brain and your life.”
You might be thinking, “That is easier said than done.” But studies show that avoiding things that you are afraid of only teach your brain to be more afraid. By facing our fears we learn to overcome them and move on to bigger challenges.
One of my biggest fears is fearing what others will think of me if I fail. But I love what Breńe Brown says, ”
“Instead of shying away from the critics, expect that they’ll be there, in the front row seats. Then acknowledge them, know exactly what they’re going to say, and ignore them. “Say, I see you, I hear you, but I’ll do this anyway…”
“It feels dangerous to show up. But it’s not as terrifying as thinking, at the end of our lives, ‘What if I had shown up? What would have been different?'”
Moving to Action – Go Out and Get Busy!
In closing, I’ll end with this little story. In 2017 I made a bad investment and lost $33,000. I was so depressed that I wanted to sit at home and cry – and I did for about a month. I just couldn’t believe that I had been so foolish and trusting. In my turmoil I decided to get out of town and go on a retreat. It went so well that I decided a month later to go again and on those weekend get-aways I was moved to action. I made a new plan and decided that if I worked hard I could earn that $33,000 back and then some. And if I failed, in the process I would learn something.
Making that bad investment was an expensive lesson too and it taught me that in life, you will make choices that are going to be costly, but, if we learn from them, it is not a complete waste. And more than that, it can be something that actually saves us from even more pain or failure in the future.
“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie
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