“By virtue of our all being human, we share the same feelings. Fear is no exception.” Susan Jeffers, Ph.D.
Susan’s Five Truths About Fear has become an iconic definition of fear and works as an important starting point for those of us trying to overcome our fears. These Truths are seminal because they outline the basis of how fear can undermine our Spiritual growth. They show us how isolating fear can be and how our feeling of fear is often worse than doing the thing that actually scares us.
The one that people often find most eye-opening is Fear Truth #4:
Not only am I going to experience fear
whenever I’m in unfamiliar territory,
so is everyone else.
So many of us feel so alone in our fears we forget that EVERYONE feels fear when they are attempting to change and grow. As Susan wrote in Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, “I was sure I was the only person out there feeling so inadequate. It was such a relief to realize I was not alone in my fear. I had the rest of the world to keep me company.”
Fear can be isolating; not only making you feel like you are paralyzed and unable to move forward, but making you feel like you are alone. As Susan said, “Everybody feels this way sometimes.” Knowing this may not make you feel less fearful, but it can help you realize that you are not alone and even help you to connect with people with similar challenges so that you can support one another.
Susan wrote, “Until you are in touch with the Fear Truths, you will hear about and read and see stories about successful people and not notice the operation of the underlying principles. You may never relate the experiences of others, especially those of celebrities, to your life. You may think they are lucky because they aren’t afraid to put themselves out there. Not so! They had to push through a tremendous amount of fear to get where they are today . . . and they are still pushing.”
The phrase “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” is often used as a rallying cry for groups of people with similar interests and similar fears. On Instagram, if you look at the hashtag #feelthefearanddoitanyway, you will see it utilized by people interested in weightlifting, for people nervous about public speaking, for people with eating disorders, for people who want to travel, and so many more. On Twitter, using the same hashtag, you will find people interested in educational opportunities, writers sending out their manuscripts, and business coaches, all supporting others who are feeling fearful.
While social media can be a minefield of negativity, it can also be a positive place to reach out and connect with other people who share your fears. Susan would definitely have approved of that. She believed that support groups and networks were key to overcoming your fears and reaching your goals. “It is incredibly important to your peace of mind and sense of power to have some kind of support group. I can’t stress enough how important it is to begin now to have strong people in your life, in the form of an established group or simply a group of friends who are consciously in the process of growing,” said Susan.
When we feel supported we can, in turn, offer that support to others, creating a sense of community. It is important to make personal connections. Social media can be a good place to start, but so are local groups. The internet can help with that too. Websites such as Meetup.com or Craigslist.org in the U.S. can be instrumental in finding like-minded groups in your area. All over the world, there are a multitude of ways to reach out and connect.
However, it is important to keep in mind that you must actually do the work to make connections—even though for so many of us, reaching out to others may cause another kind of fear. Susan addressed this clearly: “The point is that you must make the effort. So many people sit at home waiting for the phone to ring and wondering why they are always alone. Nothing is going to come to you—especially in the beginning. You have to go out and create the kind of support system you want. Even if it seems frightening, do it anyway!”
Take action! Nothing is going to work for you unless you do the work!
When we find a group of like-minded people, our fears will often fade to the background as life becomes less of a struggle and you experience more joy. Fear can be debilitating, but when we know that our fear is not unique and we connect with others, we can achieve a lightness and sense of courage that outshines our fears and moves us forward in life. Susan was right… You are not alone. The rest of the world CAN keep you company.