This saying was first brought to my attention after reading the book, War of Art by Steven Pressfield. In this book, Pressfield describes fear as a form of resistance. He uses fear to explain how our own minds try holding us back from doing the things we know we have to do. Here is the whole excerpt:
“Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it. Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of Resistance. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That’s why we feel so much Resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there’d be no Resistance.”
This quote sticks with me every day. It applies to so much. I think about this quote during work, starting side businesses, with my girlfriend, at the gym, cooking dinner, traveling to new places, and so on. It’s applicable practically in all aspects of life. Big and small.
The gist of what Pressfield is trying to say here is that fear isn’t real. We make it up in our minds. In fact, lots of times fear only creeps into our minds before we even start what we think is fearful. And once we are off and running doing that “scary” thing, it isn’t so bad. It’s our perception that makes it scary. Not the actual act itself. We overthink many things and this causes us to have fear. Instead of thinking about doing it, sometimes we just need to start and the rest will take care of itself.
Fear tries to hold us back from our dreams. It tries to talk us out of starting that business, or getting in shape, or experiencing the world. We need to start to look at fear a little differently. We need to look at fear as an indicator. Just as Pressfield stated. We need to recognize fear as something that we should do. Procrastination is also a form of fear. It’s a form of resistance and it’s our mind’s way of talking us out of something. We try to justify putting something off for another time, but in reality this is fear creeping into our mind. Fear of putting in work. Fear of putting time into something. Like fear, procrastination is also an indicator to do something. Use these indicators to get control over your fears. Look at this resistance as a challenge to overcome your own mind.
Our mind is a dark place. It tries to hold us back from what we really want. The most successful people in this world know how to silence their fear and go after what they want. They know how to use fear to tell them what needs to be done. They don’t let fear control them. Over time of using fear and doing what is necessary, your tolerance for fear will become higher and higher. You’ll be able to do things you never knew were capable. But it starts with one step at a time. Use fear as an indicator of what needs to get done. Then do it. You’ll notice how unnecessary the fear was is the first place. You’ll realize how much easier and less stressful something is as you’re doing it as opposed to before starting it. Don’t let yourself overthink things. Use fear to tell you what to do and do them.