Firing Your Fear Instead of You Getting Fired

By Julian Burke in Awareness on August 20th, 2009 / One Comment

There is something intoxicating about fear. We all face it every single day. We face the fear that the people we encounter will instinctively judge us because of how we look. We face the fear of making a poor first impression. We face the fear that we will not, at every moment, be our best and that this will somehow cause us to fail.

All of this fear can choke us, stopping us in our tracks. We intellectually know that we shouldn’t let it. But somehow, it sneaks in and can strangle the creativity in our lives.

About five years ago, I was in a very bad place. I compulsively worried about everything from what people thought of me to the state of the world. I worried so much that I couldn’t eat. I worried myself into sleeping less than four hours a night. My fear was making me miserable, and I was making myself sick.

Finally, I woke up one morning in the middle of the summer, and I decided that I was tired of feeling so bad every single day. I was tired of worrying what people thought about me and how I could please them. I took stock of everything that was making me feel miserable in my life, and I fired some things.

I say firing; it’s really just a shorthand way of saying something that something that you used to allow to have power over you no longer has that power. You fire it. You take away its key card and you have security escort it to the door. Many people, when they try to get rid of something toxic in their life, they decide to hate or fear it, completely avoiding it so that maybe the problem will just go away.

However, by keeping these things in your life, you still expend a large amount of energy in combating them daily, whether it be through fear or anger.. By consciously deciding to fire something, you declare to yourself that the thing that was pulling your life down (whether it be a person, a relationship, or anything else) no longer has any power over you.

That day, I fired a lot of things that weren’t making me happy. I fired my parents because my fear that they would never accept me was causing me panic attacks. I fired my own hypocrisy and decided to start being truthful. I sat down and systematically fired everything that was holding me back from being the person that I wanted to be. And you know what happened? I felt better. I got out of bed, and I started to actually live my life. And whenever the things that I had fired tried to bother me, I just fired them again and kept on moving. We all have so much to do every single day. Who has time to feel crappy?

As Margaret Cho quipped on the Notorious C.H.O. tour, “How much time would I save if I just let myself walk by a plate-glass window without sucking in my gut and throwing back my shoulders? How much time would I save? And it turns out I save about 97 minutes a week. I can take a pottery class.” We all have so much that we could be doing in the time that we sit around being fearful and not believing in ourselves.

And its hard to shake out of that way of thinking, because we have been taught from the moment that we were born that we are not perfect. That someone else has it better, and that we should strive to be exactly like them. But, you can only live one person’s life at a time, and when that life isn’t your own, you end up unhappy. And it’s all because we are afraid to be who we are. Why else would we put up with all of the extra that comes with it?

Anyway, as I went through the next few weeks, people began to notice a change in me. I was happier. My mood was lighter. And, truth be told, I became more productive. Without wasting all of that time in fear, I was able to live a better life than I had ever known was possible. Over time, I was able to resolve my issues without all of the baggage that came from experiencing it all in the moment. Some things got rehired. Some things, we had to remain split up due to irreconcilable differences.

Once I had confronted my fears the first time, I soon realized that it wasn’t worth it to be afraid of anything unless I had a fantastic reason. So, I took it on myself to confront my fears whenever I could.

For instance, I had a fear of roller coasters. When I supervised a field trip to a theme park, I rode one of the largest roller coasters in the theme park. Sure, it scared me, but it clued me into something larger: I didn’t like roller coasters because they made me violently motion sick. I started to realize that fear might be my body’s way of irrationally avoiding things.

By confronting our fear, we give ourselves the opportunity to make choices to live the life we want to live rather than the life we think we should live. Once we stop being afraid of other people’s judgment, then we can start living the lives that we know we should be living. You can make the choices that are the best for you. Don’t worry about keeping up with other people; there is no final tally. What works for other people might not work for you.

Once we can name our fear for what it is, we can get past it and achieve our goals. Never let fear stand in the way of doing what you want to do. Fire that feeling that says you can’t do anything that you put your mind to. Fire your fear. Most of all, though, don’t give into the fear of the unknown.

The unknown isn’t something we should fear out of hand. Instead, embracing the unknown gives us the chance to do all the things in the world that we seek to accomplish. Conquering this fear allows us to undertake career changes, cross country movies, and relationships; it enables every single major decision that you are confronted with in your life.

No choice is simple, but nothing is simplified by fear. By firing our irrational fears, we can lead better lives without the baggage that comes from carrying this heavy load.

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One Response to “Firing Your Fear Instead of You Getting Fired”

  1. Cate Says:

    A very enlightening article. I think it should be mandatory reading for all employers, employees, teachers and students.

    Thank you


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