Two kinds of fear

In my experience, there’s two kinds of fear:

  1. The fear that you experience when you step outside your comfort zone, and . . .
  2. The fear that you experience when you stay within it.

Now, you might be thinking: There’s fear inside my comfort zone? That doesn’t seem right…

I hear ya. Stay with me for a sec.

We’ve all been conditioned to expect the fear outside our comfort zones. We know it’s coming because it’s new territory, full of uncertainty. Who knows what might happen?

Inside our comfort zones, it feels safer because we have a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen; it’s territory we know. Because it’s familiar (and because its called our comfort zone), we assume it’s comfortable.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s devoid of fear.

If you think about it, what usually keeps us inside our comfort zones is fear: fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of success . . .

. . . which means it’s right in there with us.

But it’s a different kind of fear than the fear we experience outside our comfort zones. (That’s why it can be easy to miss.)

The fear inside our comfort zones is anticipatory. It’s the imagined, What if? kind of fear.

It can feel panicky and set our minds off into a negative spiral . . .  The kind that starts with, What if something bad happens?, quickly escalates to What if I get rejected or make a fool of myself? and ultimately ends with, What if I end up dying alone and no one ever loves me? . . . at least in my mind, pre-meditation. (Side note: Thank God for meditation.)

That kind of fear is contractive: It makes us shrink into lesser versions of ourselves.

The fear outside our comfort zones is different. It’s expansive, exhilarating, like a wild ride. It makes life feel like an amazing adventure.

Fear is a part of the human experience and something we can never get away from, but we can choose the type of fear in our lives based on the actions we take: the fear that comes from stagnation, or the fear that comes from growth.

Which one will you choose?