I had written this to myself with what seems like eons ago about fear.  I thought I might share it with you.  To give you some background regarding this article, I had been laid off from my job. I was very frustrated and felt quite alone.  I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do next.

Fear – A Four-Letter Word: Story

Fear - A Four-Letter Word, findingourwaynow.com

Fear is a funny thing. It can be very good for us or very harmful. It all depends on how we deal it with when fear appears. Fear of something or someone that means to do us harm is something we must always pay attention to and take the necessary action to avoid situations that would put us in harms way. Fear of change, failure looking foolish, losing something like a friend or a job or the dreaded making a mistake (trying to be perfect) can really get in the way of making good sound decisions. I’m not saying we should act without thinking through what it is we’re dealing with. I’m also not saying we should make thoughtless statements that could do harm, tell someone off or quit our job because we hate what we’re doing. What I am saying is to be thoughtful about how we should respond to a situation. If the circumstances are right, take a risk and do what we know is the right course of action. When we don’t, then we do great harm to ourselves.

Fear - A Four-Letter Word, findingourwaynow.comThis is why I believe ‘Fear’ is truly a four-letter word. It causes us not to take positive action when we know we should. We don’t say what we really think and feel in a thoughtful way, because of the fear of losing something or making a mistake. It causes us to doubt ourselves and second-guess what we’re really thinking, the actions we’ve taken or need to take. If fear didn’t exist, we could and would make very different decisions.

It’s hard to remove the fear factor from our mind when it is so well rooted. It is OH so easy to see and feel the fear and OH so hard not to make it a factor in our lives.

A phrase I’ve used so often when counseling others is “If we continue to do the same things, don’t be surprised if we get the same results”. I truly believe the reason we continue to repeat the same patterns is because it’s more comfortable not to change when fear is present. To change our ways of doing things or a course of action is stepping out of the box which represents taking a risk. The crux of it is, we’ll change whether we like it or not, we’ll make mistakes, look foolish, lose friends and jobs.  That is a part of life.

Nothing is ever perfect. Maybe going for “good enough” and doing the best we can is sufficient.

That said I finally realized that I was letting fear keep me from moving forward. How did this all FINALLY sink into my brain? It sometimes takes a jolt of some kind to get us to see more clearly.

Fear - A Four-Letter Word, findingourwaynow.comI had an accident that I caused by not paying attention, not being in the moment. It happened because I had been ruminating about all that I had going on so that I missed paying attention to my environment. I wasn’t in the present moment in my 3000-pound car, going 35 miles an hour. The good news is no one was hurt, and I had great insurance.

When I got out of my damaged car to talk to the other driver, I burst into tears blurting out all my fears and frustrations from the last six months. All I could think of at that moment was HOW EMBARRASSING. That was when a miracle happened. The other driver, a very large, muscular black man by the name of David put his arms around me and said; “Shit happens, everyone is safe, the cars can be fixed, and I am so sorry for your troubles, but that can be fixed too”. I was reminded, “When the student is ready the teacher arrives” and in this case the teacher’s name was David.

Fear - A Four-Letter Word, findingourwaynow.com

The question was what did I do about this realization. So here were my thoughts. Sometimes it isn’t the risk taking that is the most important action, it’s taking any action and then watch and see where it leads and to be ok with what comes of it. I’d been working on finding out what it was I wanted to do. Making a decision to make a move in a direction that felt right was a start. I didn’t want to take a traditional path to get there, wherever that may be. I realized that this new path would be difficult at times, bumpy, messy, sometimes scary or exciting and fun because it was a new adventure. I’m not sure where it would wind up, and I was ok with that. I knew if I had faith in myself and did the very best that I could, I WOULD find my way. After all, it’s all about the journey and not the destination.

Fear - A Four-Letter Word, findingourwaynow.comFinally, I would like to end with how this all fits into our lives. Taking a “road less traveled” is about not letting fear stop us from doing what is right and good. It’s about taking action without fear, keeping a positive attitude along the way and taking care of ourselves as we go.

Shortly after writing this I started drawing, and working on building the website “Finding Our Way Now”.  You just never know where life will lead you when your ready to put fear aside and take action.

How do you see fear?  Does it stop you from doing what you should?  What has been your experience with fear? Please, do tell.

Life’s journey continues…

If you enjoyed this check out Finding Our Way Now/My First YearAnswer To A Prayer, The Road Ahead and Road Trip, Cat, A Little Faith.

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  • Julie

    Boy can I relate to this. It’s really scary when you lose your job and the economy tanks at the same time. It seems you have done well sense. Good for your. BTW: Love your blog.

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Thanks you Julie, It has been an adventure I won’t have wanted to miss. :-)

  • A.K. Andrew

    Great post Susan. Fear is a real crippler. What has really sunk in for me recently is how much fear is fto do with the future – it’s basically worrying about what might happen, not what is happening to you right now. As you alluded to in the case of the accident, you were not in the moment. I think that’s , for me, the most important thing to keep in mind. Right now everything is fine. And if it’s not, then deal with it , take action , in the now. Of course you have to plan for the future too, e.g. like paying a bill, or arranging for the movers to come . But beyond the basics, the majority of fears are things that may or may not happen. Stay in the now, and life becomes easier. Not always possible, but it’s a goal of mine.Thanks so much for the post.

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi A.K. It certainly can be. :-). Living in the moment and not letting fear of what may happened (within reason) stop us from living, makes life so much more fun. I, like you, have the same goal and wish both of us much success in that endeavor. :-)))

  • Jon Jefferson

    I am working through all this everyday, just like you. Last year when I left my job I had no clue how it would turn out. I left with hopes based on the growth of my first blog. It wasn’t producing much money but there was a trend showing me that it had the potential to go somewhere.

    Everyday I live on hope and dreams. But these are based on the work that I do everyday towards making it all happen. The bane of fear is action. When you put in the work fear has nowhere to take hold.

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Jon, It all can be very scary, can’t it? I agree, the best course to take when fear is present is action.

      I wish you all the best and will support your effort to succeed in this world of blogging. :-)

  • http://biz.leoraw.com/about/ Leora Wenger

    Yes, we can all relate to fear! That gnawing feeling that prevents us from moving forward. And then some. I love how you told the story so nicely. It is important to enjoy the journey of life. Not so easy to figure out which road to take.

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Leora, I hate that gnawing feeling when it rears it’s ugly head. Deciding which road to take can be daunting but in the end It’s a decision we mustn’t regret, instead enjoy each step and the progress we make in our lives. That is not an easy thing to do. :-)

  • Claire Cappetta

    It reminds me of the phrase “Feel the fear and do it anyway!” I keep telling myself this everyday lately… Fear can be exhausting too but at least it helps us grow :-)

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Claire, Boy howdy that. Pushing threw it is so important though. :-)

  • Claire Cappetta
    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Oh WOW!!! Thank you so much my friend. :-)

  • Karen Koblan

    This is an amazing story, I can relate on so many levels. Especially about the part about not being in the moment. So many times my mind is wandering to things I have to get done, stuff I need to get for my daughter that I don’t even realize that I’m not paying attention to her. I constantly have to remind myself about being present. Thanks for sharing this!

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Karen, Ah, yes the being in the moment thing seems to escape us at times… LOL. I too have to remind myself of the very same thing. :-)

  • http://writespeaksell.com jeannettepaladino

    Susan — what a beautifully written post. And aren’t you lucky you bumped into a caring driver — the episode could have gone the other way and made you feel even more miserable if the other driver had blown his top. Words I never use with someone are “Don’t be afraid.” You can’t legislated someone’s feelings. You can help them work through their fears, even if they seem unreasonable to you. We all are fearful at one time or another. We can’t control negative thoughts popping into our heads. But we can try to gain control over those thoughts and ask ourselves if they are based in reality. Having a friend you can share your fears with is also a great help and I’m lucky I have them.

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Thanks Jeannette, You are very kind. I really was and was os thankful for his kindness. I agree with you about controlling negative thoughts. It’s not easy, but worth the effort. Friends do help in this matter for sure. I too am very lucky in that regards. :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/merle.gibbins.1 Merle Gibbins

    This is a great story Susan and yes we all know at one time or another what fear is but we can conquer it.

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Merle, Thanks for stopping by. That we do and yes we can! :-)

  • http://joannerambling.wordpress.com/ Jo-Anne

    Fear has controlled many lives mine included……..yes mine………I know everyone thinks I have this perfect life but it is not there are fears involved and pushing through those fears is not always easy but I do try……………..my biggest fear is the fear of change……..

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Ah, Jo-Anne, Fear is affliction we all have to contend with. Change is such a drag sometimes, but alas we have no choice in the matter, do we. Stay your positive self my friend. :-)

  • Doreen Pendgracs

    Hi Susan: 20 years ago, I left a good paying government job with great benefits to embark on life as a freelance writer. I’ve never looked back! I don’t make as much $ as I used to, but I’m sure having a lot more fun!

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Doreen, You inspire me with all that you do. You are such a great example of what I want to become when I grow up. :-)

  • Freda

    Great post Susan And thanks for the reminder to not let fear stop me for trying new things or going forward. I left my job two years ago to pursue my passion travel and cooking Its has been a journey that I am enjoying, Along the way I am also finding myself. Thanks for sharing

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Freda, Isn’t that the way?… Finding ourselves in our life’s adventure? I love what you’re doing and cheer you on as I know you will achieve your desired success. :-)

  • Naomi

    Wow, glad you were ok after the accident! Talk about a wake up call to change things around.

    My husband and I recently overcame our fears to move to India and start our own business. I really think the future belongs to those who can look at fear in the face and then keep going regardless!

    xo Naomi │ Be Ready Bravely

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Naomi, I was luck and so I did count my blessings.

      WOW! That wasn’t an easy move and decision, i’m sure. Pushing through and past our fears isn’t easy but the rewards for doing so are so worth it. :-)

  • http://twitter.com/FoodStoriesBlog Food Stories

    Very good story with a personal lesson for all of us about not letting fear rule our lives ~ Thx for sharing with us :-)

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi FS, Thanks for your thoughts and dropping by. It is very much appreciated my friend. :-)

  • http://twitter.com/geekgirlusa Cheryl Therrien

    It’s interesting when I think about this. Fear does not usually stop me from doing things, but my husband’s fear certainly stops me from doing things.

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Cheryl, Ah, the husband factor, I get that. Mine is a worry wort and thus he gives me pause when I am venturing into unknown waters.

  • http://www.bindu.ca/ Bindhurani

    Susan, it is amazing story. sometimes in the innermost mind, we all know the solution is to take action. But, to realize and to take action, we need some kind of shaking, like your accident.
    I am having the fearful situation right now. The time is not great, the finance is tight, and my actions are not taking me out of this situation… After reading your story, I am thinking, I have to write an action plan and follow it. You are really motivating me to have the fear, but, continue the actions. There will be a fix, somewhere, I need to find out. Thank you Susan. You are doing a great job blogging.

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Bindu, Thank you. I think your idea of writing an action is a very good one. It really helps identify your fears and challenges. It will help you look for ways to overcome both. Good luck. :-)

  • http://twitter.com/JeriWB Jeri Walker-Bickett

    Well, I’ve been afraid to do just about everything I’ve ever done in my life, but there’s always this little voice inside of my head which pushes me in the right direction. Granted, completely re-designing my life to better reflect my writing aspirations has not been easy these past two years, but experience has taught me fearful situations which cause a lot of discomfort along the way, are often the most-rewarding ones in the end.

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      I know that little voice Jeri. It can be so annoying but oh so helpful when pushing through our fears to reach to the other side. I know what you mean about that feeling of discomfort. If we can get conformable with being uncomfortable we can then master facing down the fear factor. :-)

  • Morgan Decker

    This is a wonderful and inspiring story. When we are lost in fear, it is hard to keep sight of what is good in your life and stay positive. I tend to hyper-focus on negative things in my life because they don’t seem to come around very often, so whenever I have fear to try and avoid that I always try to walk myself through the issue and count my blessings to know that even though whatever is happening sucks, it could be worse and I’m lucky to be where I am today.

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Morgan, I love how your walk yourself through what you are fearful of. That can really help break down the barriers that block you/us form moving in a positive and successful direction. Yep your right it does suck sometimes but, as you said, it could be so much worse. :-)

  • laurazera

    For me, an effective way of dealing with fear has been to give up on eradicating it from my life and kind of embrace it. Okay, maybe embrace is too strong of a word, but we can hang out and have an amicable coffee together. I use my fear as a signal, like, ooooh, if I’m afraid, then there must be something good just beyond it, keep going. If I don’t feel fear, then I think something’s wrong!

    p.s. Love your illustration, Susan!

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Laura, Embracing fear does help to make it much more manageable, doesn’t it? I love the phrase hangout and have a coffee with it. I agree, when fear is absent for to long a period it can mean we’re not growing. :-)

  • Johnny Crosskey

    I think the key to life is to look clearly at every situation in your life, everything that comes up and be honest about the fact that you are scared and figure out what you are scared of. With that knowledge, you can work realistically to conquer it. You can also realize that most of what you fear is not that bad. It also helps to tap into that thing within you that’s greater than the fear, whether it be faith or the goal itself.

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Johnny, This is such sage advice. Many times what we fear is baseless. We spend way to much energy on something that merits non. Thanks for stopping by and adding to the discussion. :-)

  • http://twitter.com/klagowski Krystyna Lagowski

    I love it! “When the student is ready, the teacher arrives.” That’s a great metaphor for so many situations. Fear is a great inhibitor and sometimes it takes a complete stranger to take us outside that fear. It’s when we learn to stare our fears down that they cease to have control over us – but that takes a bit of practice. I’m still working on it!

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Ah, so true Krystyna. I am still practicing the art of that myself… LOL. :-)

  • http://twitter.com/BarbaraCharles Barbara Charles

    When the student is ready, the teacher will come is an age old saying and is so true. I have found at many times in my life someone appears who has something to teach me usually when I’m in need or ready to receive or start something new. Great analogy. I recently wrote an article on overcoming fear. It is awesome when someone conquers their fear. It takes time but Oh…the rewards. Thanks for sharing your story. I’m sure someone will gain strength from what they have learned here.

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Barbara, Thank you for your thoughts, and adding them to the conversation. It is very much appreciated. My hope has always been to offer a different perspective so that I can be the teacher is some small way to others.

  • Darlene Nemeth

    Fear stops most of us from accomplishing our goals. And if we let it, fear will can take over our lives.

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Darlene, Boy, isn’t that the truth. The key is to not let that happen. :-)

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Darlene, Boy, isn’t that the truth. The key is to not let that happen. :-)

  • Kelly Wade

    Fear of the unknown and fear of failure are two of the biggest obstacles we all face in life, but the biggest fear I used to struggle with was change. I was so resistant to change when I was younger that I never stepped outside of my comfort zone. That is, until a series of events forced me outside of my comfort zone and what I knew. After that I accepted that change is inevitable and fear is a waste of energy because you can’t control what happens, you can only control how you react to it.

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Ah, our old friend Change. He can really make us feel pretty miserable when we don’t come along for the ride. It please me that you were able to reconcile with your fear of change and make it work for you instead. :-)

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Ah, our old friend Change. He can really make us feel pretty miserable when we don’t come along for the ride. It please me that you were able to reconcile with your fear of change and make it work for you instead. :-)

  • Jeannette Santino

    Great post – Two of my favorite books are: “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway” and “The Gift of Fear” . Fear can save us or handicap us.

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Jeannette, Thanks and those are great books. Bot how right you are! :-)

  • Jeff@cognitivecompost.com

    Thank you for writing this article. I agree that fear is a crippling problem.

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Jeff, It can indeed. It all get down to our attitude and approach, doesn’t it?

  • Mary Slagel

    It’s funny–in a non-humorous way and instead in that ironic way–to read this article about fear because I was just thinking about fear this morning and in fact commented about fear on somebody else’s blog post. I’ve come to realize that no matter how much you fear a situation, sometimes you just have to take the plunge because when you get into it and realize it isn’t so bad after all, it makes that realization so much more powerful.

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Mary. I always find it funny how we are sometimes connected with similar thoughts. I too love that feeling when a fear has been overcome and the illation that follows. :-)

  • http://twitter.com/YLTL Dan Meyers

    Thanks for writing this – so what I needed right now :)

    I also love the quote – “If we continue to do the same things, don’t be surprised if we get the same results”. We’re really trying to embrace this mentality as we head off on our adventure… fear will always be there, we just have to learn to deal with it!

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Dan, That is very cool! It’s one of my favorite quotes and one I remind my self of often… LOL. I understand where your head may be at the moment. Fear will be ever present, but fear has not stop you yet, so push on and enjoy the adventure. :-)

  • Catarina Alexon

    Good article, Susan.

    The only thing to fear is fear itself. Unfortunately we need fear in order to avoid survive. That’s why we get frightened when someone unexpectedly appears behind us:-)

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Catarina, Yep your right, self-preservation is one of those fear emotions to pay very close attention to. :-)

  • John

    Great article and so relevant. As I will be starting a new job soon after a long search, I also had some fears but your article reassured me.

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi John, Congratulations on your new job. That’s awesome news. I am so happy that I could do that for you with my humble story. :-)

  • Along Came Mary

    I am letting fear get to me very much right now! I Have been looking to move closer to LA, for job reasons, but so far the apts I have looked at are not for me. There were afew last week I did half way like, but I didn’t even apply for them cuz it all seems like an OBSTACLE! Theres so many reasons TO move, yet so many things I like where I am at! The thought of my things & actually moving are my fears, I am in my comfort zone a bit. Usually, I know that means I should change:) Other than this, I have not dealt with much fear lately;)

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Mary, Fear can be such a show stopper at times. I would say, keep working at it. It may be that it just isn’t the right time and the right place yet. :-)

  • HomeJobsbyMOM

    It’s good to do the things that scare you sometimes. I often hear they can be the most rewarding.

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Krystle, I with you there. It isn’t easy but the rewards are very worth the scary part. :-)

  • JustOneBoomer

    For me, I believe fear has really been a lack of self confidence, the dreaded “fear of failure”— usually unwarranted, as it turns out. However, it took until I was well into my 50’s for me to realize that I somehow managed to do things in my life that others consider accomplishments. My husband once told me, “The way to become an expert, is to declare yourself an expert”. I was shocked at how true this is. I guess if you never deliver, you don’t get to keep the title, but if you do, you get to be an expert! So now, I officially declare myself a professional blogger ;-)
    (BTW, I found you on the LinkedIn group Bloggers Helping Bloggers.)

    • JustOneBoomer

      Lesson #1. Log In to Disquis before hitting “submit”.

      • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

        Yep that does help… LOL. :-)

    • http://findingourwaynow.flywheelsites.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Just One Boomer, I love the title and rock on girlfriend. :-)

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