14. Nonresistant thought expands the Solar Plexus; resistant thought contracts it. Pleasant thought expands it; unpleasant thought contracts it. Thoughts of courage, power, confidence, and hope all produce a corresponding state, but the one arch enemy of the Solar Plexus which must be absolutely destroyed before there is any possibility of letting any light shine is fear. This enemy must be completely destroyed; he must be eliminated; he must be expelled forever; he is the cloud which hides the sun which causes a perpetual gloom.
15. It is this personal devil which makes men fear the past, the present, and the future; fear themselves, their friends, and their enemies; fear everything and everybody. When fear is effectually and completely destroyed, your light will shine, the clouds will disperse, and you will have found the source of power, energy, and life.
There are two types of fear: irrational and rational.
(This differentiation also applies to all of the emotions that we feel from happiness to sadness, confidence to doubt, but those are for articles for another time.))
Irrational fear is the kind of fear about which Mr. Haanel writes. It is the deep-seated, unthinking, non-reflective fear that takes hold of us, that tries to dissuade us from our goals and plans, that paralyzes us. In the extreme form, this form can often be referred to as a phobia. In the forms in which we are most familiar, they manifest as nagging, unconscious doubts that keep us in a place of inaction.
These are the fears that Mr. Haanel implores us to “destroy.”
More often than not, these fears can be assuaged just by doing the activity or facing the thing that we fear.
Sometimes, other methods are necessary, especially in the case if the fear has developed into a phobia.
Rational fears are those fears that we face every day and they are, in most cases, perfectly fine and normal. Sometimes they are an alert or warning mechanism, as in when we sense that something isn’t right, either with a person or a place. Other times they are useful if we are making plans for something; the fear of things going awry will impel us to check and double-check, to rehearse, to practice, to pay attention.
As we say in Toastmasters before giving a speech, the goal isn’t to get rid of the butterflies in one’s stomach, it is to make them fly in formation!
I make this important differentiation regarding fear because far too often we use not only fear, but the quest to eliminate all fear, as a crutch that stalls us from taking the action necessary to attain our goals. Too often, a person wants to wait until he is comfortable before he begins taking action, not knowing that chances are very likely that he will only feel comfortable once he gets into play.
Stop questing for “perfection.” If it’s not there, then worry not because it will come as you do — as you face your fears, as you plow through them. Then and only then will you conquer them.
We all worry.
We all doubt.
We all harbor fears.
Sometimes they help us.
But they should never stop us.
Either in and of themselves or by us wasting our time trying to eliminate them completely.
Conquer your irrational fears. One by one.
As Thoreau wrote, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams!”
Stop running from your fears and start chasing your dreams because that’s why you’re here!