Fear is Self-imposed Torture

He who indulges in empty fears earns himself real fears.

Seneca

Our thoughts influence how we interpret the world. Napoleon Hill enthusiastically championed the belief that our thoughts were powerful embodiments of our conscious energy. That energy could propel us to new heights as a source of inspiration or it could just as easily hold us back under the weight of our unrestrained fears.

Thoughts mixed with a definiteness of purpose, persistence, and a burning desire are powerful things.

Napoleon Hill

We often trap ourselves in cycles of self-fulfilling prophecies of doom when we spend too much time in our own heads reflecting on everything that is beyond our limited circle of control. If we focus all of our attention on our difficulties, pain, and the obstacles in our way, it won’t be long before that’s all we’ll see in the world.

We end up conditioning ourselves to stop looking for opportunities and solutions to our problems because we erroneously believe that no matter what we do, we’re never going to succeed. We sabotage our chances of success before we even face the next problem. Opportunities soon pass us by unnoticed because we stopped looking for them.

We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.

Seneca

This is a “Do Nothing—Fail at Nothing” mind trap. We can’t let fear hold us back. When we find ourselves in these trying moments, we can reflect on the famed 1988 Nike slogan for some inspiration.

JUST DO IT.

Nike Slogan (1988-Present)

It’s a fitting motto for a company named after the the Greek Goddess of Victory (Nike). So, I like to play with those words and their relationship and think of the maxim as the formula for victory.

Success = Just do it.

Don’t give up. Struggle on. Do something. Keep moving, and eventually we’ll find another opportunity waiting for us.

It Is What It Is

He who indulges in empty fears earns himself real fears.

Seneca

The universe seldom give us everything we want, but it always seems to provide a means to get what we need.

You didn’t have a choice of where you started in life. You got the hand you were dealt and you had to make it work for you. If you’re lucky, you may get a second chance at times—more often than not, you won’t.

It’s helpful to remember that though we do not have complete control over our own life, we can control our response to the experiences we’re given.

Nature isn’t concerned with the individual. You’re one of billions, and there is no cosmic scheme to guide you toward fantasies of destiny or illusions of everlasting happiness. You are the source of your own inspiration or defeat.

You could always lie down and wait for better days to come your way—but they likely won’t. You could also recognize that there is no universal agenda holding you back—you may face obstacles, but you are also not destined for failure. Somewhere, between the obstacles beyond our control and the random luck that makes some moments pass by with ease, is the fallacy of Fate. It’s the lie we tell ourselves when our hardships are greater than our resolve to overcome them or the dream we long to believe that emboldens us to grasp for more when our blessings are at their height.

In then end, there is really only one agenda holding you back—yours. It’s your prerogative to decide how you wish to frame your life.

  • Are you a victim of your experiences or a hero determined to overcome them?

Everyday we can find ourselves in a sea of endless possibilities. Somewhere a tempest is brewing, and it is only a matter of time before it finds its way to us. What are you going to do when disaster or hardship finds you?

  • Will you do nothing and hope for the best?
  • Will you prepare for the worst and be content to face whatever you find?
  • Do you give up and throw away everything because you can’t have it all?

Perception and the Illusion of Control

We tend to think of ourselves as Masters of the Universe and captains of our own fate. We spend most of our lives planning a fantastic future which may actually never come to fruition. We make decisions and take risks based on the assumption that we have control over where our life takes us.

Through it all we are never satisfied. We are constantly searching for the best version of our future life by looking for the “perfect” addition to our plan. We look for the perfect school, the perfect degree, the perfect job, the perfect salary, the perfect spouse, family, kids, dog, car…..you see where I’m going. Don’t you? We’re always looking for something more under the false perception that A. We can have it all, and B. We’re in control.

Clearly, I’m not a nihilist. I won’t say you have no control in life, but I am a bit of an objectivist on this point. I don’t think we have nearly as much control as we like to believe. Most of our desires and wants in life are well outside of our actual control. We seem to erroneously believe the world will behave in ways that benefit us. We act as if the universe is required to adhere to our cleverly crafted plans. I get it. We create plans so we can earn the rewards we so desperately want. It’s really just a recipe for disappointment though. I’m not saying you need to stop planning. I am saying we need to set reasonable expectations. There’s no guarantee we’ll wake up tomorrow, but that also doesn’t mean I stop paying my bills today.

There’s a fine balance I think we can strike if we stop looking for a perfect life, and start enjoying the life we already have. If it gets better, enjoy those perks. If it gets worse, create moments you can enjoy. No one controls your perception in life if you keep an open and cautious mind. Accept both disappointment and reward with equal caution. Don’t be lured into a false sense of security nor desolation.

  • Nothing is ever as pleasurable as we imagined and things are rarely as terrible as we feared.

Few things in this world are solely under our personal control. Life constantly throws us about with little regard to our own plans. However, we do get to choose how we respond to the uncertainty and disappointments we experience. Do we choose to become victims of our circumstances or champions over the obstacles in our path?

This choice is always available to you. No one can force you to surrender. Just as no one can force you to struggle and overcome your hardships. Your victory over difficulties is never certain, however, your loss is guaranteed if you choose the easiest path. Surrender will not lead to victory.

We have the ability to stop at any given moment and change who we present to the world. We can stop giving up in the face of difficulty. We can choose to struggle on. We can stop seeing the world as as hostile place out to destroy us. We can focus on the truth that the world is fairly indifferent to most of us. Our perceptions create more hardships than we actually experience.

  • Change your perception, and you can change your response.
  • Change your response, and you can build a different future.

Even the best plans can prove ineffective and lead to your ruin. Don’t let your happiness rely on these external things. Plan with care. Do your best. And live well regardless of how things turn out. Being content is a choice. Don’t let others take that from you.