Life Domination – Lesson II: Fear, the Growth Factor

Life Domination – Lesson II: Fear, the Growth Factor

Life Domination – Lesson II: Fear, the Growth Factor

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Written by Damian Minichowski & translated by Lisa Randl

Fear. Nobody wants to feel it and yet we cannot live without it. This basic instinct can help us to grow personally, but why is that? Well, this is the subject of the second lesson of our Life Domination series.

Life Domination – Lesson II: Fear, the Growth Factor

There are people who have to take a look to their right and to their left at every step of their life. Some do it with caution, others are pretty anxious about it and then there is a third, almost apathetic, type. Almost as if they were watched by the big brother continually. As if they would be rated and categorized. “Just stay in line,” is the credo of the society – a collective fear. Those who live differently or simply behave different, are either watched with a raised eyebrow, derided at or laughed at behind the back in a circle of almost uniform comrades. In extreme cases, such stigmas aren’t limited to a passive level – they escalate in brawls and people get injured in real life. Seriously injured or even killed.

Wouldn‘t it be a wonderful world if everyone could live as he or she would like to (without limiting his or her life) and without being stigmatised? Without being meet with distrust and suspicion? Without being laughed, spit at and without getting the head smashed for some minor reason? So, why do we behave like that?

Those things that the human being doesn’t understand, are feared. This primal instinct has served our species tremendously since many millennia when encountering the unknown. It was necessary to survive in a hard inhospitable world. Basically, it all amounted to a fight or flight response. Our ancestors didn’t have much options to choose from and the decision making was less complex as it is nowadays. Life was hard, but on the other hand it was quite trivial when making fundamental choices in life: “If you are not you my friend, you are my enemy (or my prey).

The world was black and white: All those things that helped us to survive the day, were considered good while everything else – and especially those things that wanted to harm us – were bad. Plain and simple.

Fear

Fear

Fear is a useful primal instinct, that can save your life. Don’t be a reckless fool, do not ignore your fear – but do not succumb either. (Source: Flickr / Jimee, Jackie, Tom & Asha ; CC Licence)

Many people think it would be better to live without fear (which is simply considered as a strong emotional signal of our mind). They think, they would be bolder and braver without it. They think, they would finally have more guts to do all the things in life that they always wanted to do and stand up for the ideals that seem to be correct. And they envy all those people who, despite adverse circumstances, stand like a rock in the surf, fearless and unflinching as it’s so often been the case in the history of mankind – quite often under acute danger to life. “Oh, if I could only just be also that brave and strong. Oh, if I could do this or that. Oh, I if could also live like that. Oh, if I could only… “

But this is just a big fallacy. Those people misjudge reality. Fear is always present, even in the boldest of our kind. Think about someone who helps a homeless old man at the subway, who is being harassed by some aggressive punks. Does this person abstain from fear? And what about the injured individual, who pulls out his friend from a wrecked vehicle into safety after a terrible accident? Again, what about the caring mother, that stands protectively in front of her child, when danger arises. Do you really think that she is not shaken with fear? People jump out of collapsing skyscrapers – how do you explain that? Nobody would do something like that under normal circumstances, so there must be a strong sensation at work to lead to such decisions and you can bet that fear plays an important part in all of these situations.

I strongly believe that many of us have misunderstood the concept of fear.

“None but a coward dares to boast that he has never known fear.”- Ferdinand Foch

Just think one minute about it – what would happen, if we really would be able to stay fear- (and probably) reckless? We’d be dead by now.

Dead, because we’d speed at night on an icy road, hitting the nearest tree. Dead, because we’d swim too far out in raging sea, then drowning miserably. Dead, because we’d start a bar fight with a leader of a motorcycle gang – just because we don’t like his face (and, mind you, we just have to tell him that with a smirk on our face). We would all be dead, because of an awful misjudgement of the situation at hand and incorrect behaviour (as a result of the misjudgement). We would all act like idiots.

Let me tell you that one thing: Those of us, who stand up for their principles and ideals may sometimes experience the greatest fear of all. Fear sharpens the mind and puts us on alert – from 0 to 100 mph in a few seconds – to ensure survival.

When fear threatens to overtake a person, two options arise for how this situation can be encountered: a.) it can paralyze us (and we try to get through the situation in a passive way) or b.) we accept the anxiety and try to control it. So what does that mean? We become attentive and take action in order to survive the situation. Rock’n roll, baby.

Courageous people aren’t fearless people – they are just masters and conquerors of fear. And more importantly: With each successive encounter of fear they are growing (not only in the eyes of others, but also from inside!). Courage and fear are not mutually exclusive with each other.

Unfinished Business

Unfinished Business

Unfinished business is easy to ignore, but for a high price: It drains your mental capacities and energy. Do not procrastinate. Get the job done.(Source: Pixabay.com / mikegi ; CC Licence)

While our ancestors could choose from a fairly small  set of options (fighr or flight) in a fearful situation, things got a little more complicated these days – and that is still a duly understatement.

Today, we live in a world full of fear, of which we cannot escape. While the anxiety no longer threatens our immediate life, it still affects it in a subtle way that limits many people in the development of their personality and makes them live in constant uncertainty. The result? Prolonged stress.

You need some examples? Sure: Just imagined your boss entering with a huge pile of paper-work for you, while you’re drowning in several demanding tasks already. Did you ever think about running away in such situations? Or about slapping him in the face, yell at him and stating, that he can do this shit-load of work by himself? Deep down inside you maybe thought about doing it already, but you knew that this would be an inappropriate reaction to the situation, that would cost you the job. And what about the term paper, that will be due by the end of the weekend? You already ignored the troublesome task for several weeks but it didn’t solve the situation in an acceptable way. The job is still not done, the task was just delayed and the conflict hasn’t been solved.

Summarize such points in a single category called unfinished business (or “unfinished tasks”). What does this mean? Well, these things still are around in our lives. They haunt our minds and rob us from precious (mental) energy. This energy is then lacking somewhere else, where it is mostly needed. Unfinished business occupies our attention and keeps us from living the moment. It appears in our dreams and manifests itself in our desires, which sometimes couldn’t be realized for some inexplicable reasons until today. Maybe we didn’t have had the time to work on these things or there was no real opportunity to get it done. Some people are just too lazy and too good in procrastination – so the job remains undone for a long time, although it could be done swift and simple.

In most cases, it is one of the above-mentioned phenomena added with another variable: the fear of change.

Fear and Changes

Quote - You don't have to be great to get startedA question, which is haunting through my head for the last couple of days is: What leads to a revolution? Why do revolutions occur? Why do people in Africa and the Middle East go out on the streets and start to demonstrate against a totalitarian government these days – despite the fact that they bring themselves willingly in danger? How can you explain the uprising in the Warsaw ghetto on April 19, 1943? Why did the French Revolution happen in the 18th century? Why did slaves and gladiators rise up against the Roman Empire and their supposed masters?

The leading cause should be quite obvious: All of these involved people had to endure a lot of suffering, before it lead up to grave escalations. They were pushed around, exploited, abducted, beaten, starved, tortured, deprived of their freedom and perhaps even killed. These people all have something in common – every one of them has reached a point in his or her live, where the status quo got unbearable. And then this one final straw, which would break the camel’s back, is being added … and BOOM. You’ve got someone who is willing to put up a fight.

Now, let’s consider that there isn’t only one single person that feels like that, but instead we have to deal with several individuals, who basically feel the same way about this unbearable situation. Things get going and the passive situation is changing into an active form. Finally, we just have to mix in some “opportunity” and the “right moment” and the recipe for change is in place. Rage, sorrow and grief find their own active valve and the will to make a difference is greater than the paralyzing fear – now. And all hell breaks loose.

It is quite similar in the smaller scale. Of course, a tangible revolution is far greater than you and me, but we’re all going through our own small revolutions in everyday life. Mere dissatisfaction with a situation doesn’t lead us to the point of being proactive. Human beings are creatures of habit and we will do our best to keep the situation unchanged, because … well, it could always get worse. We want to remain in the well-known “comfort zone“. And most of us are too cosy. On the other hand, every one of us has a specific limit, a Rubicon river, of where there is no return to the old days anymore. If this limit is breached, then we experience situations in our lives that are not tolerable any longer and then we will try the best of our knowledge and belief to change it.

For some of us it may be the three-digit number on the scale. For others it may be the red numbers on their bank account. Some value the opinion of their fellow men (something, that might be extremely questionable – see Life Domination Part I).

Fear acts in this whole process as a kind of thermostat and it is the key to the valve. The greater the fear and the higher our threshold, the lower the likelihood that we will actively act. The lower the first two are, the more likely it is that we take things into their own hands. But in my eyes it is not so much about the actual “fear-value“, because – as I have already described above – each one of us feels fear in a given situation (and we should also distinguish between acute and chronic anxiety).

Changes and fear are in a permanent interaction, because such dynamics always involve a certain uncertainty factor. The question of “What if …”

Change

Change is the fuel of life – embrace it with open arms and work towards your goals to become one day the person you were meant to be. (Source: Flickr / Dragan Sutevski ; CC Licence)

This brings me again to a point that I raised in the first lecture: Change means life. Life means growth. Nothing can grow, if it does not change: The seeds in the ground, have to change to become a beautiful flower. The caterpillar has to change in order to be reborn as a butterfly. A piece of coal put under large pressure needs to change, so that it becomes a diamond.

„Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become.” – Unknown

How do plan on becoming what you want to be, if you are not willing to change yourself – and therefore – to take the plunge into the cold water? Many people wait for a lifetime for their personal revolution, hoping that their dreams will realise themselves in the end – but the revolution is already there – namely today and now, not in a year or in five years. Christian Zippel put it right in his last interview with Aesir Sports (German): “If you’re not afraid of the next step, it is not big enough!”

Ultimately, you shouldn’t surrender to the fear. Do not wallow yourself in it, but rather just perceive the fear as an indicator of personal growth. Mind you, I’m not talking about stupid tests of courage in the car on the road or jumping into a pool from the 8th floor of a hotel building. No, this is the next level in the game named “life” – but for that to happen you must be willing to take risks and invest some work.

The road of least resistance may perhaps be paved at the beginning. It is easy to go, you won’t break a sweat and you won’t go out of breath – and that’s why it is chosen by many people. The longer one walks on this road, however, the more difficult it is to leave the (already) beaten track to find your own way. “Why is that”, you may ask? “Why not change the road” just like you would change your underwear? You cannot change it, because once you walk the path of least resistance, you become too „soft“.

And once the degenerative process is complete, once you wake up, it’s already too late. You no longer have the will and the energy to explore the world around yourself. You’ll never discover new facets and you will never live the life you were meant to be. Worst of all is: Ultimately, your dreams remain what they already are: mere dreams. Never realized, an echo of what could have been if you had been willing to do something about it – to make a revolution.

Fear, the Growth Factor

Fear - Do not let it control you

You’re allowed to fear, but you ought not to let it control your life. (Source: Flickr / Keoni Cabral ; CC Licence)

We all have fear in us – and this is not reprehensible. In a life threatening situation, it is the fool who doesn’t experience fear. However, it would be a mistake, if you would let fear control your life – you have to ride it and then it can lead you to the stars.

And with every time you look fear in the eye, finally, it will become easier to overcome. The threshold value in the thermostat drops and your willingness to take the chance, despite adverse conditions in the balance, increases because you’re used to change and realize that you can steer your own destiny into a direction you prefer it to go. And fairly so! Once you have mastered this many situations, once you solved so many problems, there is nothing wrong in taking the next step – quite the contrary: it’s a welcoming challenge.

So ask yourself: What keeps you from catching up? What keeps you from finishing school? What keeps you from starting (or finishing) your studies? What keeps you from climbing the corporate ladder? What keeps you from your loved ones – to be there – with your friends and family? What keeps you from becoming the person in live you actually want to be?

…it’s only the uncontrolled fear of change that keeps you from the opportunity that you should grab with both of your hands. So have fear, be aware of this and kill your “unfinished business.”

It’s time to roll up our sleeves and to grow. It’s time to change. It’s time to get shit done.

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Picture sources: Pixabay.com / geralt ; CC Lizenz

About the Author

Damian “Furor Germanicus” Minichowski is the founder and mastermind behind the bodybuilding and nutrition online magazine Aesir Sports (AesirSports.net & AesirSports.de). Besides numerous authorships Damian is writing for several well known and respected weightlifting and fitness magazines. He authored more than 200 articles about bodybuilding, training, training philosophy, nutrition, health and supplementation already.

Damian worked as a long-term fitness coach in local gyms. Currently he is working as a consultant for a supplement manufacturer. His profession lies in evidenced-based article writing and revolves about one of his biggest passions in life – Physical fitness, nutrition, supplementation and health.

People who landed on this page, looked for the following search terms: Life Domination, Fear, Growth Factor, Fear Growth Factor, How to use fear, Fear emotion.

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