Napoleon Bonaparte, Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great would have had problems with YouTube – they had Ailurophobia, the fear of cats. Nikola Tesla was afraid of germs. Walt Disney, ironically, was afraid of mice. Alfred Hitchcock had a fear of eggs. While certain fears do not stop you from becoming powerful (please use your power responsibly), there are fears that must be overcome if we are to live our best lives. The fear of change and the fear of failure are two of the biggest hindrances to living your best life. The following five things will give you a little insight into how to conquer those fears and live a better life.

1. Focus on your story

In Donald Miller’s book, “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years,” he outlines how to live your best life by looking at your life as a story. A story you are the author of. He says:

“If the point of life is the same as the point of a story, the point of life is character transformation. If I got any comfort as I set out on my first story, it was that in nearly every story, the protagonist is transformed. He’s a jerk at the beginning and nice at the end, or a coward at the beginning and brave at the end. If the character doesn’t change, the story hasn’t happened yet. And if story is derived from real life, if the story is a condensed version of life then life itself may be designed to change us so that we evolve from one kind of person to another. ”

If we are afraid of change, how will we ever become better? How will our story ever be worth telling? Change is scary, but it’s only through change that we become our best and happiest self.

2. Whatever happens, happens

The best and worst thing about the past is it can never be changed. No matter what has happened in life, you can’t change it. But you can learn from it and use it to your advantage.

“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” Johnny Cash

Don’t be afraid to fail. Most of the great people in the world climbed to the top on a stairway made of failure. Don’t look at failure as an end. Look at it as an opportunity to rise up and learn from your mistakes and don’t forget, great things take time.

3. Love yourself

In the Bible it says:

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

It is not only important to love others but also to love yourself. If you do something wrong, cut yourself slack. Remember failure is in the past and can be used to become better. Don’t sell yourself short. You deserve to be loved. Loving yourself is of great importance if you are ever going to live a better life.

4. Sometimes all it takes is 20 seconds

“You know, sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, just literally 20 seconds of embarrassing bravery, and I promise you something great will come of it.” Benjamin Mee, We Bought A Zoo

Most of the time, the thing you fear doing will only take 20 seconds. For example, you see a cute girl in the library you want to ask out. Instead of asking, which would only take a few seconds, you let the fear of failure creep in. You drag it out going through every scenario in your mind, worrying about every little thing that could go wrong. You spend all your time in anticipation of something that lasts mere seconds. You never know what the outcome will be so why worry about it? She’s not dating you right now, what do you have to lose? This goes for so many other things as well. So when your heart starts beating a million miles a minute, remember, all it takes is 20 seconds of embarrassing bravery.

5. Avoiding your fear may bring you closer to it

In the book, “Kisses from Katie,” Katie recalls an interesting story she once heard about fear:

“Once there was a people who surveyed the resources of the world and said to each other: ‘How can we be sure that we will have enough in hard times? We want to survive whatever happens. Let us start collecting food, materials, and knowledge so that we are safe and secure when a crisis occurs.’ So they started hoarding, so much and so eagerly that the other people protested and said: ‘You have so much more than you need, while we don’t have enough to survive. Give us part of your wealth!” But the fearful hoarders said: “No, no, we need to keep this in case of an emergency, in case things go bad for us too, in case our lives are threatened.’ But the others said: ‘We are dying now, please give us food and materials and knowledge to survive. We can’t wait . . . we need it now!’ Then the fearful hoarders became even more fearful, since they became afraid that the poor and hungry would attack them. So they said to one another: ‘Let us build walls around our wealth so that no stranger can take it from us.’ They started erecting walls so high that they could not even see anymore whether their enemies were outside the walls or not! As their fear increased they told each other: ‘Our enemies have become so numerous that they may be able to tear down our walls. Our walls are not strong enough to keep them away. We need to put bombs at the top of the walls so that nobody will dare to even come close to us.’ But instead of feeling safe and secure behind their armed walls they found themselves trapped in the prison they had built with their own fear. They even became afraid of their own bombs, wondering if they might harm themselves more than their enemy. And gradually they realized their fear of death had brought them closer to it.” Unknown

Be careful in avoiding your fears that you don’t end up like the people in this story. I think it is important to note in this scenario, the people who were the fearful hoarders did not have love. They did not love the other people. As a result, they built themselves into a prison. Always remember love and fear cannot exist simultaneously.

Featured photo credit: Bert Kaufmann via flickr.com

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