What does fear feel like?
For me, it’s blood pounding through my veins. Tightening muscles. A thrill running through me. An overwhelming desire to run.
To be sure, there are different forms of fear. There’s fear that is helpful; it connects us to what Scripture says and helps us to choose the right paths, to avoid things that lead to our downfall, to walk in wisdom. There is also relentless, pursuing fear that Jesus said should not be found in followers of the God of peace.
But what of the fear that feels simply brings an adrenaline rush? What then?
What if we can use that to our advantage? What if fear is a gateway to our best performance?
In responding to the mantra, “Keep calm and carry on,” The Atlantic addressed this idea:
“Instead, the slogan should be more like, ‘Get Amped and Don’t Screw Up.’ That’s because anxiety and excitement are both aroused emotions. In both, the heart beats faster, cortisol surges, and the body prepares for action. In other words, they’re ‘arousal congruent.’ The only difference is that excitement is a positive emotion‚ focused on all the ways something could go well.”
We act as if fear must be quenched to give our best. But, as many performers will tell you, fear can actually be turned into fuel with very little effort.
For instance, take the number of difficult phone calls I have had to make in the past weeks. I’ve felt my pulse skyrocket, throat start to close up, the thrill begins. These could have made me stutter or forget what I needed to discuss.
Instead, I used them to fuel me.
I took a deep breath and leaned into everything I was feeling. I opened my eyes and smiled, allowing myself to experience fear coursing through my veins. The only thing I didn’t allow myself to do was to dwell on the negative root of the feeling, and in doing that, was able to experience something that is almost physically and mentally identical to excitement.
Where do you need to lean into the fear and transform it? A terrifying job offer? An ordinary task that is particularly difficult to stomach? A big speech or presentation?
As Robert Frost once said, “The best way out is through.” Lean in. Feel it. Let it fuel you. Walk through the gateway of fear and into success.