Before I go all in and set out a pretty picture in front of you of how you can be fearless in your life, let me ask you a simple question first, “Do you even think you can be fearless in life? Absolutely fearless, from anything and everything, no matter what?” If your answer is ‘no’, then don’t even bother going ahead as it will be futile. Genuinely believing that ‘yes, I do have a shot at that’ is kind of a prerequisite to getting anywhere near the vicinity of being fearless.
Makes sense, right? Without even entertaining the possibility of something becoming a reality in your mind, you have already shut the doors. Believing is the first step. You can’t win a game without entering the ground.
Let The Treasure Hunt Begin
What Actually is Fear?
Now, before we jump right into the cold waters of transforming your scared ass to becoming fearless, we first need to understand what fear really is. Do we even understand fear? What causes fear? Why does fear make us tick? When is fear crucial or is it? The different types of fears?
If we can understand what fear truly is, then there’s nothing else to do about it. There’s no practice or routine or a cheatsheet or any system you are gonna need to become fearless.
Is fear good for you? Your parents might scare you into doing something they think is right for you, or the society who’s trying to haunt you to mold you the way they want to. Essentially they are using fear to their advantage; fear is good for other people as long as they are leveraging it to make you do what they wanna do.
But I will ask again, is it good for you?
If you are looking at a ghost and want someone to tell you how you can get rid of it, then there are no conclusive answers there. The other angle to look at the same predicament could be, ‘What is a ghost?’ Since childhood, we have been raised mechanically, ingraining the “How to” principle in each and everything we do, and consequently, we apply the same rules in psychology as well.
Psychology isn’t necessarily always about the ‘how to’, it’s more about ‘what is’. As once you deeply understand the ‘what is’ part, you will automatically figure out the ‘how to’ part in a more effective and productive way.
One can always give you a wide range of tips to ‘overcome ghosts’. The internet is full of ‘how tos’, but only a handful actually talk about ‘what really is’. What would you prefer, getting a cheat sheet with quick tricks to make the ghost run away, or to truly understand what a ghost is and maybe coming to the conclusion that there are no ghosts in reality?
Fear Restrains you, Fearlessness Frees You
Coming back to the song of fear, fear is something that restrains you, limits you, and holds you back. The fear of ‘not doing something’, the fear of ‘doing the wrong thing’, the fear of ‘doing the right thing in the wrong way’, and countless more.
You are pulling yourself back because of this fear. You are doing something you don’t particularly like because of this fear only. And consequently, fear has played a major role in determining your current life situation.
And, one more thing, in this article, I am not talking about the physical fear but the psychological fear. Fear was supposed to be our friend looking out for us, helping us spot the traps to avoid, the dangers to avert, and the warnings and cautions to pay heed to.
Physical fear is a good kind of fear which helps us sustain our lives. You know like, the fear of falling down, losing balance, entering unchartered territory, or where there is physical harm involved and so on. In such situations, fear is our best friend.
But, what happened is that instead of fear helping us avoid the booby traps, it itself has become a booby trap; instead of helping us avert the underlying dangers, fear itself has become a danger for so many of us. That’s something that hasn’t worked out well for us. This comes under bad fear, the psychological fear which only exists in our mind.
The best way to spot the difference between good fear and bad fear is that good fear applies to almost everyone. Almost everyone would fear walking on the edge of a multi-story building’s rooftop’s railing but not everybody would fear being judged when meeting new people. So, in this article, I am basically gonna keep the spotlight on the bad fear which limits us.
Desires: The Cause of FEAR?
Come to think of it, would it be wrong to say that at the end of the day it is our own desires that become the root cause of fear? Pretty important to figure out the cause of fear in the first place if we wanna be fearless in life.
The desire of earning money will breed the fear of losing money, the desire of winning her over will propagate the fear of losing her, the desire to succeed will compound the fear of failure, the desire of getting the promotion will procreate the fear of demotion, the desire of winning will facilitate the fear of losing, the desire to live is what brings the fear of death.
The stronger the desire, the stronger is your attachment with that particular thing, and the more impactful and haunting is the fear gonna be.
So, if you are not ready to give up on your desires, then how are you planning on getting rid of your fears? You won’t have any fear of losing someone you are not attached to at all right? One will only fear that when one is intensely attached to someone.
Are You Ready to give up All Your Desires to become Fearless?
I know what you must be thinking. And before you ask it, let me tell you, NO. You don’t have to make huge leaps in terms of your understanding, taking baby steps is the way to go babies.
Just because I said desires give birth to fear, doesn’t mean the very next second you have begun unloading your desires. What to do and what not to do aren’t to be dealt with just yet before completely understanding the ground reality.
So, extending our previous conclusions, will it be wrong to say that desires and fears are the two sides of the same coin? The minute you booked a desire, intentionally or unintentionally you have also bought some free space for ‘fear’.
Now, theoretically, if one doesn’t have any desires of any kind whatsoever, he isn’t gonna face any fear and will become fearless. Easy peasy. Makes sense, right? No desire of impressing someone, proving someone, winning someone or something, even the desire of living, will eventually result in having no fear of any kind.
But hey, in the practical world, that ain’t possible. We all know it. You can’t possibly get rid of all of your desires as long as you are alive. But now, at least you are aware of what’s actually making you tick, you can measure the number of desires and attachments in your life that are injecting fear into your life.
That in itself is a giant leap in becoming fearless in this game of life. “What can’t be measured can’t be improved right?” So, well, congratulations, you just took the first step in improving your ‘fear situation’ by examining how many desires you have, the attachments you developed, with things and people over the course of time.
Act Without Fear
You must have come across certain circumstances in life where you are in your comfort zone but not entirely happy and satisfied with what you are doing.
Now you are left with two choices: to either keep doing what you are doing and remain unfulfilled for the rest of your life or to take the leap of faith and do the thing you want to do and see how that turns out.
The funny part is that both of these paths are full of risks that are gonna scare you and make you fearful.
If you stay in your comfort zone, the fear of not living your life to its fullest will eat you up, and if you do decide to finally take the plunge you’d live under the fear of compromising your current comfort for good, which might pose a pretty grave problem in life.
Let’s say you work at a job that is helping you pay the bills and take care of your family, but you are not fulfilled and happy there and want to start your own venture. Now, what do you do? Yeah, that’s the kind of predicament I am talking about.
On one hand, you can either get so entrapped in the comfort zone your job provides you that even though you are not enjoying it, you have somehow convinced yourself to just keep doing it and bear it anyhow, or you can show some bravery at the heat of the moment and choose the road less traveled.
The first road will never make you happy, period. You might lie to yourself but deep down you’d know you didn’t get what you want in life.
Choosing the road less traveled will make all the difference. There is a pretty high probability that your venture is going to 0, but you know the biggest return that you are gonna get out of that decision? You wouldn’t have to live the rest of your life pondering “What if I followed my heart instead of succumbing to the fear?”
And that’s powerful. Regret is the kind of poison that will knock the shit out of you left right and center till your dying breath. You don’t wanna spend the rest of your life being an empty hollow shell of a person. Trust me, that’s what regret does to people.
So, even if you do give your venture a shot and even if you fail, when you go back to your job or whatever you do next, you are gonna be a wiser person.
Because the fact that you failed, it will not only make you more humble, it’d have taught you a variety of things as well. You’d be free of that internal mental conflict that would have eaten you up.
And that’s when I am already considering the worst. Maybe it all turns out ok.
If going all-in seems too much to ask for, to hedge your bets, the least you should do is not settle and keep looking until you find something interesting. If your 9-5 is mandatory for you to pay your bills, your 6-12 should be mandatory for you to look for something else. You owe at least this much to yourself.
And well, if you don’t, nobody is gonna give a shit anyway. It’s your life ultimately.
Love is the Conclusive Way of Becoming Fearless
Now, if you wanna dig a bit deeper, question the reality and ask yourself, “all the desires that you have, is it related to the outcome or the work itself?” We all are always attached to the end result of our endeavors and not the work we do. But what will happen if you get attached to your work?
We are all concerned with failing the exam and not whether we studied successfully or not, we fear losing the game instead of fearing whether we played our best game or not, we are apprehended when we go for a job interview wondering whether we’d get selected or not instead of worrying about whether we prepared our best. That’s the root cause of all the problems which is taking a great deal of toll on your life.
And the solution, the one-stop solution to becoming fearless in life, is Love. There isn’t any other way. You have to fall in love with the work you do and with the people you care about. People who fear losing people actually are attached to them more than they love them. Where there is love, there isn’t any fear.
When you love what you do, you do it for the sake of doing it and not because you are gonna get x,y,z things later on. You don’t care whether you win magnanimously or fail viciously, you are simply head over heels in love with what you are doing that there’s no stopping or fearing you.
Stop Associating Love With Attachment
Love isn’t attachment, attachment isn’t love. Where there is true love, there isn’t any fear. The fear persists only when there is attachment, and attachment is what leads to fear.
The state of fear in a relationship is all because of attachment. Since you are attached to the other person, you tend to micromanage them to such a level that it almost smothers the other person. Attachment leads to confining the other person in a cage.
Love, on the other hand, grants freedom. It is what makes you fearless. Love is not about caging the other person, it’s about setting them free. Even if that means the person is not with you anymore. Love gives you the power to bid the other person goodbye if it’s better for them in the long run, attachment tends to prolong a toxic relationship because you are too scared to be alone you’d rather hurt them than take the hurt.
It’s love that doesn’t make you impose on the other person, making the other person function according to you and your whims, unlike attachment. Attachment is all about making the other person do what you think is right for them, while love is all about ensuring that the right thing happens to them.
There’s a world of a difference between the two. What you think is right for the other person is often based on your own countess fears or desires, and that’s not the right measure for the person. Love’s about accepting the faults while attachment is about trying to amend the faults till eternity until the other person becomes ‘the perfect’ person.
When you are attached to them you have this fear of ‘losing him’ or ‘what if he doesn’t turn out to be good enough in life’ and so on. You have this fear only because you consider them a property of your own, a property you can’t afford to lose its shine no matter what. Love isn’t about owning. You can’t truly love someone or something as long as you look at them as ‘your property’ or as something you can possess.
Now, I am not telling you what you should do, I am simply laying out the facts and trying to elevate your awareness. To be fearless, love is the way. When you are really in love, no torture will be torturous enough, no pain will be painful enough, and no fear will be fearful enough.
Learnings from a River will make you Fearless
If you look at a river, the most obvious thing about it is its ability to fearlessly move forwards come what may. The river never turns around, or stops to take a pause, or gets stuck with analysis paralysis because of the fear.
It keeps on streamlining ahead without giving a rat’s ass to what lies in front of it, be it a giant mountain or a humongous boulder, a steep valley, or a massive ocean.
When it comes to human beings, we surely can learn a couple of things from this natural beauty. Just imagine for a second, if a river is being controlled by the human mind, what would that look like?
“Caution!! An enormous rock ahead, take a pause and change the course; oh but wait I can see a fall in that direction, maybe turn around again? Holy shit! We are gonna crash into a mountain, brace for impact! NOOOO!?!!!!@!@!”
A total fiasco in the making, indeed. A river is neither a prisoner of the past nor is intimidated by the future and thus is completely fearless in every sense.
River Neither Looks Back nor Jumps Forward
A human does both. The past mistakes keep on haunting us and the future apprehensions keep on rattling us. It is just like a river that is stopping its flow to start comprehending why it took so and so turn in the past or contemplating and worrying about the fall it will have to take 200 meters from here. How unnatural and fake is that gonna be!
Thankfully it’s just our imagination. And though, it may not sync with the river, but it does convey the harsh reality of us humans. There simply is no comparison between a river and a typical life of an average human. WE are simply bugged by fear far too much at every twist and turn, going against our natural way.
A river is always 100% there in the present moment. No past and no future. Now is all there is that the river cares about, part of which makes a river absolutely fearless. Gracefully accepting every bump and cut, every rock and falls, every soil and terrain; accepting and moving on.
Essentially, a river doesn’t complain about the number of impediments and obstacles that come its way to hinder its flow, instead, it simply acknowledges them, greets them with open arms, and smoothly passes by them.
Stop Living in ‘Either-Or’
Since the topic of the river is in play, it’s best to extend the same analogy. So often in life, we create our own perceptions of one thing being right and correct and the other thing being wrong and incorrect.
Let’s say, you simply formed a perception that a river that’s peacefully flowing is much better than a river that has a lot of tides and rapids in it. Choosing one state or aspect of a situation will automatically make you unlike the other aspect of the same.
That’s what happens in life as well. The minute you put a label of right and wrong, positive or negative, good or bad on your life situations, then that’s where you will hit a roadblock. Because now the second the situation transforms from ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ or the second river changes its nature of flow from calm and composed to windy and stormy, you are not gonna take it in high spirits.
And let’s get one thing clear, they are both part of life, the laws of nature. What you call ‘white’ or ‘black’, ‘happy’ or ‘sad’, is all part of life. Moreover, you don’t control them, they happen when they happen.
You can have a streak of your so-called ‘good days’ when things were going smoothly and peacefully when suddenly a wave came in and ended your happy streak. Now, what are you gonna do about it? You have to deal with ‘bad’ days which you detest as they are ‘bad’ in your dictionary.
And there’s no limit as to how generously good or spitefully bad things might go, so aren’t you a lifelong disciple of ‘fear’ in a way? When things are going according to your taste, you are only half-heartedly enjoying it because you don’t know when there might come a fall and all hell breaks loose.
Now what kind of a life is that? Not living the ‘good’ days completely, and getting restless and stressed out when living the ‘bad’ days, eagerly waiting for the good days to return, only to repeat the whole cycle again and again. It sucks.
To Be Fearless: Master Both the States
A Fearless Life isn’t just about longing for the ‘good’ and avoiding the ‘bad’. It’s about making peace with both of them and being ready with whatever life throws at you.
Now whether the river’s all calm and serene and quiet or rapid or gusty or turbulent, you don’t give a shit. You aren’t attached to either of the states which is what will make you absolutely fearless. You are capable of both enjoying the calm and bracing yourself from the storm that’s about to raid the city.
When you go into the storm with this kind of mindset, the chances of you coming out of it victorious grow manyfold. And when you do come out of it, imagine what you are gonna turn into, especially when no one else around you could make it out alive.
This is how one explores the depth of one’s true self. But the majority of people are content with living on the surface, never really digging in and discovering what one is actually made up of. You go deep enough and you will come across dimensions you didn’t know existed before.
And that’s all only possible from a position of being fearless of diving into this pool of self-discovery. So, the question is, are you ready to take a dip into this puddle fearlessly to unearth treasures that the whole world is oblivious of, or are you gonna live like everyone else and let fear direct you?
Impervious To Consequence: The Secret to Becoming Fearless
And finally, this will put things to the bed once and for all.
If you observe carefully, the majority of our fears are associated with the end results, the outcomes, the ramifications. Now, there can be physical consequences and psychological consequences to the actions you are gonna take.
The fear of getting rejected, the fear of failing to land the job, the fear of being unsuccessful in your venture, the fear of facing embarrassment, the fear of standing out and not blending in, the fear of not fulfilling society’s and parent’s expectations and so on are all psychological consequences.
And the physical consequences involve risks like getting hammered between two vehicles, stumbling from the top of a mountain, drowning at the bottom of the red sea, going bankrupt the next month, and so on.
Take measures for the physical consequences and drop the psychological ones. That’s the way to becoming fearless in life. Physical fears are real and essential for your survival and need actual planning while psychological fears are mostly just our own figments of imagination and only need the understanding to get rid of them once and for all.
While physical fears require a great deal of work from your end like practicing, learning, going through the facts and figures, and then acting, the psychological ones actually need no such thing, simply understanding to burst that bubble is sufficient. Once you understand and act, the fear vaporizes.
The more you segregate the fears between the physical and the psychological ones, the more sorted your life will become.
And finally, I’d like to say that there is no fear in this world that can’t be conquered.