Have you ever wondered how to rid yourself of those feelings of fear that are mostly self-imagined, but nonetheless may keep you frozen in the past?
There are simple steps you can take that are necessary to break free from our fears and phobias and move toward fulfilling our dreams, because as Mark Twain so wisely reminds us:
“I have lived a long life and had many troubles,
most of which never happened.”
Recalling a time when you personally have triumphed in the face of fear is a very good way to help yourself put fear in it’s proper place, and instead use it as a motivator and tool you can use to help move you toward your desired goals.
Today I will share with you one of my personal “fear” stories that, although I was not aware of it at the time, helped to move me into a space that changed my life in such a positive way, that I never again allowed fear to stop me from moving forward.
“This story is set many years ago, in the lovely, wee town of Glasgow in Scotland, where I lived for two years, back in the late 1980’s.
During these two years, by day I worked in a law firm in downtown Glasgow, but by night, I pursued my passion, and practiced putting together a unisex aerobics class and musical repertoire that would be appealing to both men and women. I called my class DynaFit.
I ignored the fact that the locals I became friends with told me that it wouldn’t work, and instead every weekend I would walk up and down the main thoroughfares in the Glasgow area (Great Western Road, Byers Road, Sauchiehall Street, Botanic Gardens, Fergus Drive, etc.) handing out flyers telling folks about my upcoming aerobics class.
Here in “America” (as the Scots call it - making no distinction between Canada and the US), it’s a relatively easy task to hand out flyers to complete strangers. However, in Scotland, handing out informational flyers to Glaswegians is quite another matter, and is met with much suspicion while most folks literally jump away from you, like you’ve just drawn a gun or pulled a knife on them. Still, I persisted.
I searched and searched and finally found the basement of an elementary school that was willing to rent me their space three nights a week. I worked every night at perfecting my aerobics routine and one week before my grand opening, I so badly sprained my ankle that it was in a cast for two months and had to cancel opening night.
Some may have given up their dream at this stage, but not me. I was even more solidly determined to make it all happen, and had another two months to perfect my routine, and by the time my cast came off, my ankle, which had been prone to easily sprain for many years previous, was now, because of the cast, stronger and better than ever. Here in “America” you don’t get a cast for a sprained ankle.
All the while my Glaswegian friends continued to tell me that my dream wouldn’t work and nobody would show up for my classes.
I ignored them, kept a clear picture in my mind of how I wanted my dream to play out, and persisted as my opening night finally arrived, and with it a very respectable number of both men and women to try my first DynaFit class.
The men who had been bullied (by their wives and girlfriends) into attending what they thought would be a “girlie” exercise class, found themselves in much distress and some didn’t have the strength or stamina to actually finish the class. Word travels fast in Glasgow and by the third week of my class I had to move to a much larger facility in a secondary school gymnasium, and I was making more money three hours a night than all week long at my day job.
OK, now you’re wondering how this is a story about conquering my fear because so far this story seems a little tame, so stay with me while I get to the fearful part.
Some weeks after my DynaFit class had begun, one of my students shyly approached me after class and asked if I would possibly agree to teaching a class at a school where she worked which was trying to think of ways to raise money for building a seniors centre, and she thought that the children could ask for pledges depending on how many minutes they could participate non-stop in my DynaFit class.
Of course, I agreed to this task, not having any clue at the time of just what I had agreed to let myself in for.
Thankfully, I realized that the music I used in my adult class would likely not be something the younger children would relate to, and at the time, the BIG adolescent music thing in Glasgow was the sound track from a popular TV show called Fame. I bought the sound track and revamped my routine based on this music.
The pledge day arrived, I got the time off from my day job and arrived at the school, not really believing all the horror stories I had been told by my Glaswegian friends about how out of control the public school system was in Scotland, how the children didn’t respect or listen to any adults and played very dangerous pranks on their teachers.
I entered the enormous school gymnasium wearing my electric blue body suit and psychedelic leg warmers, set up my three foot speakers and powerful amp system, which prior to this day had never been turned higher than 1 or 2, amidst a screaming, out of control mass of several hundred children ranging in age from about 10 years up to early teens.
There were little fights breaking out all over the gymnasium and the noise level was enough to wake the dead.
It was TRUE what everyone had told me and I WAS AFRAID.
I looked about the screaming mass trying to find some authority figure and observed a man leaning casually against one of the door jambs leading into the gymnasium. I walked over to him, told him who I was and why I was there and asked him to call the class to order. He smiled a small, smug, and smarmy smile and handed me a whistle.
Now I was REALLY afraid!
I blew the whistle as loudly as I could and despite the fact that I have very powerful lungs, I think that the only person who actually heard it, was me.
Was I out of my comfort zone? You bet I was! Did I want to run away? Oh YES, I sure did. However, nothing was going to keep me from accomplishing my task, so I went deep inside myself, calmed my mind and believed with all my heart that I could make happen what I came to do.
I marched over to my impressive amp system, which prior to this moment had been sorely under used, popped in my “Fame” tape, took off the whistle, and cranked the volume to 10.
Then a miracle occurred and like the parting of the Red Sea, once the screaming mass of students heard the first few familiar bars of their beloved “Fame” music, they all became magically silent, and like they were in a trance, quietly moved out of my way as I walked to the centre of the floor. I told them to form a circle around me and do whatever I do, and we were off, running, and leaping, jumping and gyrating our way through my “Fame” DynaFit routine.
The look of shocked surprise on that teacher’s face was one I will never forget, and I will also never forget the hours I spent after class signing autographs for all the many students who must have thought I was an official “Fame” cast member come all the way from “America” . Finally, I will never forget that facing my fears this day helped earned the money necessary to build that seniors centre, and taught me a life lesson that lives with me still - to always move forward in the face of fear.
We all need to constantly remind ourselves that WE are the ones using our imaginations to create the fears in our lives and when we allow these fears to grow to an alarming size, we have created an immobilizing phobia which will make it very difficult to be successful.
We also need to remember and acknowledge that we’ve been conquering fears all through our lives, and that sometimes the best way to move yourself past a fear is to remember all those times when you triumphed in the face of fear.
Was it when you learned to swim, took that first dive off a diving board, learned how to drive, asked your high school crush out on a date, spoke in front of a 100 people, took flying lessons, jumped out of a plane? You fill in the blanks, because when you start remembering, your list will be long.
You have it within you to be like fledgling birds when it’s time for them to take that first leap of faith that will expand their previously very limited world…feel the fear, and TAKE THE LEAP, anyway!
“Come to the edge, He said.
They said: We are afraid.
Come to the edge, He said.
They came. He pushed them,
And they flew . . .”
- Guillaume Apollinaire -
I’m sure that you all have your own wonderfully inspirational stories that you can share with your family and friends, and most importantly that you can remember to share with yourself, because we all can benefit from real life stories that remind us that when we’re determined to reach our goals and make all our dreams come true, that the only thing to fear is fear itself.
Asia at Global Freedom Family
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