F E A R
That all-consuming, breath-taking, weight-in-your-stomach emotion that causes paralysis equivalent to catching a deer in the headlights.
I know you are familiar with this feeling.
If you're like me, you'll have experienced it before a job interview, or whilst giving a presentation to a room full of suit-and-tie clients, or even more simply (but equally as terrifying), opening up to someone new.
The one thing that has become increasingly clear to me is that so many people around me are making life choices based on their fears.
As in - "I can't do X because I am too scared".
I will be the first to admit that I have chosen a different (read 'easier') path on more than one occasion using this exact logic.
But I had a breakthrough moment yesterday after spending several hours with a friend's baby who is trying to walk before he can stand. As I sat on the floor watching him I began to really understand that fear is a learned emotion. It is a product of our own thoughts. We create our own fear based on past experiences or conjured in our over-active imaginations.
Time and time again, Baby O would pull himself up, steadying himself against the furniture, release his hands which were supporting him, and promptly fall to the ground.
He had no fear of falling. And when he did, someone would catch him. Or he would land on his well-padded butt. Occasionally, he would get a shock from the sudden downward motion and shed a tear. But he would soon get right back up and try again.
That's when I realised that as we get older, our fear overwhelms us because we lose perspective.
We are not afraid of standing - We have become fearful of the fall.
And sometimes, that fear stops us from getting back up and trying again.
Your fear may not be of falling (physically or emotionally) but the lesson here is that in many scenarios, the worst thing that can happen is usually not all that bad (or even particularly likely).
You will survive the interview; or rock the presentation; or form a closer bond with someone.
Recognise what it is you are truly fearful of. And do it anyway. Because, just like my friend's son, we get stronger each time we try. And eventually, standing unassisted and even taking that first step becomes easy, the fear is gone, and we can achieve something wonderful.