Walking Towards the Fire: Adversity, Fear & Mental Growth

Have you ever found yourself caught in a conflict between who you are at this moment and who you want to be? Or maybe you set a stretch goal or intention for yourself, but those fearful thoughts always seem to stop you dead in your tracks.

What if every time you faced adversity and a feeling of fear about a situation or experience, you got excited, happy, and grateful instead of bitter?

Through my personal experience, I’ve found that the best way to get past those insidious thoughts and feelings is by taking action and moving towards that very thing that is causing you the fear. Let’s say for example you are faced with a difficult decision to make, or perhaps you’ve made a decision to make a big change in your life, and while it excites you, at the same time it terrifies you! The fact that you’ve found something or have something in your life that is causing you these uncomfortable feelings, that’s actually great.

Many times we get short-sighted and focus on the immediate discomfort and adversity that we’ll inevitably face. Sometimes we do this instead of detaching from the situation and realizing that this situation or experience will ultimately cause us to grow the most. Often, it’s the thing we resist, run away from, or hide from that holds the biggest prize for self-growth and transformational breakthroughs.

It’s good to remember that no one, and I mean no one, is ever 100% “ready” to face the things they fear most. It’s crucial to our development and growth to walk towards those proverbial “fires” to get to the other side, where our greatest self is and wants us to be. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it will be easy, but I assure you it can be well worth it in the long run. And besides, if life was always easy and comfortable, where would the excitement be?!

I’ll tell you a personal story to help paint a picture for you. Back on August 16, upon returning home from my yoga teaching training, my mentor and teacher arranged for me to teach at our home studio that very next day. While I was brimming with excitement to share all that I had experienced and learned during my transformational training, I was still completely petrified at the same time to actually get up in front of a real class with real students, including some of the teachers who have taught me and lead them through a complete practice. This was not a drill, this was the real deal! At this point I was left with two choices: to stay and “walk towards the fire” of my fear, or turn down the opportunity, play it safe, and defer it to a mystical time in the future where I would be “more ready.”

As you might have guessed, even though I couldn’t sleep the night before and was on edge the whole day leading up to the class, I gave up whatever was in my way and headed to the studio. With sweaty palms, butterflies in my stomach, and fearful thoughts screaming louder than ever, I decided to act in spite of them. Thoughts like, “What if I mess up?” or “What if I teach a bad class?” or “What if I don’t know what to say?!” raced through my mind. I was completely on edge, and began to wonder why I said yes to this in the first place! I remember distinctly thinking to myself, “Is Karen (my teacher) crazy? I’m not ready!”

But still, with those thoughts and uncomfortable feelings ever present I went for it, and am so glad I did. So many opportunities have opened up in my life from that day, and the best part was that I left the studio that day a new man who had conquered his fears. You see, we always have the choice either to stay safe, comfortable, and preserve the status quo of our ego, or to take action, get messy and uncomfortable, and ultimately grow.

A catalyst for our mental growth can be intentionally doing the exact things which frighten us. To be clear, I’m not talking about doing something that will put you in physical danger or harm. I mean to pursue opportunities and experiences that interest you and that will serve your growth.

A good question to ask when faced with indecision about taking action is “Will I regret not doing this a year from now?” Personally, I find that almost always puts the situation into perspective. Even though your ego might be screaming at you to play small and keep it comfortable, you will benefit most from giving up those thoughts and walking straight towards the “fire.”

Whether it be public speaking, a difficult conversation, asking for a promotion, or even signing up for something physical like a workout program or CrossFit, know that you already have within you all that you need to take action towards it. So the choice is yours. Is there something you are avoiding because of the fear and adversity that awaits? I encourage you to go after it with arms wide open.

Remember, the same thinking and actions that keep us comfortable and safe are the same things that will continue to cause us to feel stuck in life. So take a chance, get uncomfortable, and commit to living an intentional life reaching your fullest potential. You’ve got this!

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© Copyright Whatismyhealth, March 12th, 2017