“The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”: FDR
“Can I stop my thoughts of irritation from arising? The answer is no. They will arise as long as I choose fear. ‘Trying to remove your own shortcomings is like trying to lift yourself off the ground by pulling on your own bootstraps while standing in your boots,’ writes Wayne Liquorman.”—Barry Brownstein
“To the case in point, the more I understand that my thinking is generating my feelings and the more I understand that identifying with fear instead of Love will generate pain, the fewer thoughts of irritation arise. When I choose Love, instead of fear, I experience peace and gratitude.”—Syd Banks
This month’s blog is on fear. Why? Because fear creates many problems, prevents many solutions and causes many needless sleepless nights. It can cause someone not to climb stairs to see a great view, an athlete not to pursue a contract or a businessman to kill a multimillion-dollar deal. Thoughts generate fear because until there’s a real danger, fear is just a thought. Then, the fear is real, but second-guessing or what-if thoughts that have not and probably never well happen can generate fear.
You cannot prevent these thoughts, but you can overcome them with something much more powerful. What is this and how do I get it, you ask? You already have it or can acquire it. It comes from faith, hope and love. These qualities or feelings are far more powerful than self-defeating thoughts or fears stemming from those thoughts. You must have hope that those who love you and believe in you will get you past this fear. You must have faith that the Creator who has placed you on this earth has a purpose for you and protects you. You must know that the love you have of those for whom you wish to do things for and with is much more powerful than any fear.
While in a small storm on our boat years ago, my son, asked, “Dad, have you ever been scared while at sea?” As most of you know, I’ve been going to sea since I was six months old. I have worked as a deck hand, as a captain and boated for pleasure. At 19 I had more than 730 eight-hour days at sea for work not counting pleasure trips. I obtain my 100-ton Masters (Captain’s) license at age 19. So, as you can well imagine, I have experienced a lot on the water.
So to get back to my son’s question, I have to relate it to the fear of others. While on an overnight charter trip in the late ’70s or early ’80s, what later became a tropical storm caught us. Unknown to us during the storm something knocked a hole in the bow of the boat and we were taking on water, and within hours the primary bilge pump failed. The passengers were screaming and praying. As the captain, my uncle, maintained control of the 55-footer. He told me to go to the engine room and repair the pump. My wife likes to say I can’t change a light bulb, and that is for the most part true, but I repaired that pump by replacing an impeller and a seal in 20-foot seas.
After battling the storm for about 20 hours, we returned safely to port to find out we had a hole in the boat above the water line. Was I scared, did I have thoughts of fear, maybe? As I tried to explain to my son without sounding too heroic, because I wasn’t, I was just too busy to be scared. My faith in God, the vessel and my captain, my hope to repair the mechanical issues to reassure the passengers and my love of the sea, the job and of life, got me and the rest of us through this ordeal.
I have dozens of others stories but they all have the same outcome. I have a great respect for the sea but clearly understand that something so beautiful and calm can turn deadly like so many other things in life. I can’t let fear of what might happen stop me from going to sea. My knowledge, love and respect overcome the possibility of fear. I have no room for it.
Now what about fear of the unknown? As a small child, about eight or nine, I had a large teddy bear in my room. Someone had moved it and put it in a different place. I awoke in the middle of the night to see a strange outline in the dark. I couldn’t get up to check; I was too scared to yell out to my parents, and I truly had no idea what it was and why it was there. So after a long scary night of not sleeping, about daylight I saw that it was my teddy bear and felt so stupid for having lost a night’s sleep. My fear was real, but I based it on thoughts that were not and never would be real.
I’m not a sociologist, but I do read people very well and have used this skill for a long time. I have witnessed very successful businessmen worry so much about a minor point or part of a business deal that they can literally let it cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars sometime even millions or kill a multimillion-dollar deal altogether. First, I have to understand that although the fear is real, the facts or thoughts feeding it may not be. As a consultant or business coach I try to give them a new perspective or thought process on the sticking point so they see it in a different way. This eliminates the fear.
Many of my clients are friends or friends of friends. I again have to have “faith, hope and love” of what I’m doing, for whom I’m doing it and why I’m doing it. We all have thoughts that cause fear. I assume that most of you reading this have your health, have your loved ones around you, friends or family you can call on when in need. You have the wisdom that God gave you at birth, and you have guardian angels to help complete this journey we call life.
Faith, hope and love are without a doubt far more powerful than fear. They’re real and are within you all the time. Rely on them to overcome and even in the future prevent the fear that can spoil or hinder so many wonderful things to experience in this very short time we have on earth.
You may comment on this blog or send me a personal thought at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please accept this blog with the care and friendship it was written and from my heart to yours. Commit to do the things you were in fear of yesterday for this is a new day.