When obstacles stand in your way, do you rise to conquer them or crumble in fear?
My favorite movies are about people who overcome great obstacles to reach their goals. Among my favorite movies are: Coach Carter, Dangerous Minds, Blind Side, Mona Lisa Smiles, and even Coyote Ugly.
How do they face their fears and obstacles? While some naturally hold their own, the rest of us grow our courage. Regardless of our fear conquering speed, we can all face fears like a rising star.
Experiencing Fear Like a Star
Everyone experiences fear. Sometimes fear is protective. If a tornado touches down in your town, then fear motivates you to quickly move to a safe place. Fear is protective when there is real danger.
Fear is not helpful when it interferes with reaching our goals and dreams. We can let fear freeze us or detour us. Fear can come in all shapes. You can fear success as much as failure.
Do you ever worry how your success will impact others? Or, how you can live up to what others expect of you? The character Timo Cruz from Coach Carter borrows Marianne Williamson’s 1992 poem ‘Our Deepest Fear’ when he thinks about leaving the gang life:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our dark that most frightens us.”
We really can worry about almost anything. While some of you may fear success, others fear failure, embarrassment, and/or rejection. Like Violet in Coyote Ugly, she assumes that she will have stage fright when she performs her songs in front of an audience. Her fear is one of the obstacles that stands in the way of reaching her goal of becoming a songwriter.
These fears are not based on a natural disaster coming your way. There is no immediate harm to run from. It is fear based on your assumptions and perceptions. Luckily to make a good movie, Violet finds a way to grow her courage and face her fears. Courage isn’t as natural as running away or avoiding what you fear. Fight or flight is the natural response to stress.
So, if there is no real danger, then how do you face your fears?
4 Steps to Facing Fear Like a Star
I read, watch, and listen to people face their fears. Do you see yourself in these steps?
In Coyote Ugly, Violet practices her songs alone, in the dark, and in front of a small audience. Violet soon learns that she is assuming she’d have stage fright just like her mom. And, she later finds out that her mom was a great performer, but wanted to be home with her family. Like Violet, you can put so much energy into your fears that they seem real!
Each of the lead characters attempt, fail, and refocus many times. When they fall down, they get back up and try again. Learning and practicing is their guide to eventually reaching their desired goals. In following these examples, learn from your mistakes as well as your successes. If you have a setback, how do you get back on track?
In almost all of these movies, there is at least one person that believes in the main characters. For Violet, her “family” believes in her, but has a hard time letting her move to a new city. Once she is alone in New York, Violet meets Kevin, who challenges her. He encourages her to persist toward her dreams even though it is hard trying new things.
Of course it helps to have someone believe in you, but I don’t think you can borrow someone’s courage. The “coach” in these movies helps the main character acquire resources, stay focused, and find their own inner courage. Is it time to hire your own coach, or do you have a natural cheerleader in your circle?
Whether you hire a coach or learn on your own, you may encounter people who don’t believe in you. Enduring when others think your efforts are a waste of time is part of the process. What helps you hold onto your goal when you talk to negative people? You don’t need to convince them, just keep moving forward.
Violet encounters a boss who doesn’t think she should keep reaching for her dreams. Although she nearly gets side tracked, she keeps moving forward even when it seems almost impossible that anyone will listen to her songs. It is natural to want to flee when you are uncomfortable. Learning that you can tolerate some discomfort is part of the journey. It may help to keep your eye on your long term goal.
The more you face your fears and endure some discomfort, the more you will begin to believe in yourself. Since you can’t borrow or buy confidence, you watch it to grow. Before you know it, you will be acting courageously to reach for your goals in life, love, or work.
Violet eventually finds the courage to sing her songs to a big audience, and soon her songs are sung by a famous musician. She keeps her new love and friends, yet she no longer lets her fears stand in her way of becoming a songwriter.
It’s your turn. What fears stand In your way? Share what helps you challenge and face your fears. Here’s to growing courage wherever your journey takes you.
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Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on Philosophy, Psychology, and Real Life with the title “Growing The Courage to Face Your Fears”
Photo Credit: Guiseppe Bognanni