Getting your real life back by getting your edge back.
I know a lot about fear because I used to fear a lot.
I used to be afraid of what people might think.
I used to be scared about what might happen if I did or didn’t do [X].
Mainly, I used to be scared about losing certain things: losing my ideas about myself, losing the things that I owned, losing illusory ideas that had no tangible reality to them like my ‘reputation’ or my ‘future’ or my ‘life’.
I’m one of those people who’s always tried to live spontaneously and to not hold anything back but, if I’m honest, I’ve had plenty of dark nights of the soul or moments of pain and anguish where I’ve had the world hold up a mirror to me and show me that I’m either nothing like I thought I was or, even worse, exactly like I feared I might be.
Life has been a wild ride. That’s how I know most of the stuff that I write about on this website or in my book(s) or that I share in my coaching sessions and elsewhere.
I know how to live a pretty good life now because I’ve screwed up so many times: I know how to be strong because I’ve had moments of weakness; I know how to be real because I’ve been unreal; I know how to get things done because I’ve wasted so much time on unreality which really just amounts to nothing.
I want to be as honest as possible in this article because it’s an article about fear and how you can master it. If the last decade has taught me anything it’s that the only difference between reality and unreality is the presence or lack of fear and that once you acknowledge that you have little if anything to ‘worry’ about.
The best thing that ever happened to me in my life was losing everything. I can say this with sincerity because the main motivation that had brought the things I lost into my life was fear and once those things went I was left to face myself and to rebuild on the only thing that still remained: reality.
This article is about the wonderful idea that nearly 99.9% of the things that you fear are unreal. Why is it wonderful? Because if you imagine the possibilities of a life without fear and you realise that most of your fears are unreal, you’ll see that you can do just about anything.
What if you weren’t afraid? What would you be doing right now?
Most of the things that stop you being who you need to be and living the life you need to live are just examples of you holding yourself back.
This article is gonna show you how to let go.
Two Kinds of Fear: Rational and Irrational
It’s all well and good for me to say that we can live without fear but that would involve denying a basic truth about the human condition which is that our bodies evolved fear and that they evolved it for a reason.
Before we go on, we need to acknowledge an important distinction between two very different types of fear:
- Rational Fear: Rational fear is biological in origin and is an instinctual mechanism designed by millions of years of evolution to keep you (or your body) alive and ticking. This kind of fear isn’t always ‘right’ in the sense that it isn’t always triggered by actual danger but it will give you the jolt you need to GTFO in the face of possible danger so that you can live to be real another day (a simple example is that you might feel fear when you see a non-poisonous spider: your instincts don’t care about whether or not it can actually kill you – they just wanna get you away. Sharpish.).
- Irrational Fear: Irrational fear is either sociological or psychological in origin and has only entered your life because of your CONDITIONING. This kind of fear is never ‘right’ (unlike rational fear which is hit-and-miss but always serves a life-preserving function). This kind of irrational fear is the stuff of nightmares as it will take you away from yourself, the world, and reality and give you erroneous ideas and assumptions at every level of your being. This sociological and psychological fear is the reason that we let the world hold us back and we don’t allow ourselves to be who we really are.
This article is about embracing the rational fear for what it is and allowing it to go about the business of keeping us alive and about managing our irrational fears so that we can live the real lives we deserve instead of hiding from ourselves and our own potential because of pure, unadulterated bullshit.
Before we move on, here are some quick examples of the kinds of fears we’re talking about:
Biological: “Oh no, if I fall of this bridge/cliff/abyss/etc. I’ll die” / “Holy shit, a spider.” / “OMFG, he’s got a gun”, “This food looks a bit mouldy”, etc.
Our biological fears are protective and are triggered instinctually – they can become irrational fears if we cling to them in the face of evidence that they are pointing us away from the truth (for example, if we learn that the spider isn’t poisonous or that what we thought was a gun is actually something else but still act like the fear is real).
Sociological: “I’d better not follow my dreams/say what I really think/wear what I want/grow my hair/whatever because people will think [X]” / “I should [X]” / “It’s really not appropriate for somebody of my age to be doing this”, etc.
Psychological: “I’m such a piece of shit” / “If I show my real self, I’ll be rejected” / “I can’t forgive myself for this thing I did twenty three years ago” / “I’d better hide my anger/horniness/love because I don’t know how to control it”, etc.
Irrational fears are triggered and kept in place by our CONDITIONING – in other words, they always enter our psyche and experience of ourselves, the world, and reality from the outside in (instead of being sourced in the reality of inside out).
Just like rational fears can become irrational the longer we cling to them in the face of evidence, irrational fears can sometimes become rational if there is evidence to support them based on the feedback we get from reality (for example, maybe you really will be rejected if you show your real self – it doesn’t matter though).
Knowing whether or not your fears are rational or irrational will help you decide whether you can – or even need – to get rid of them. Keep that in mind as you read the rest of what is written in this article.
A Word About Jail
When I talk to coaching clients about fear and getting rid of it (the irrational stuff), I often find that a lot of them put forward the objection that if they abolished their fears they’d be the best versions of themselves and that they’d be acting on infinite possibilities and opportunities but…they’d end up in jail.
This isn’t just something I’ve heard a couple of times, it pops up a lot.
For some reason, we seem to think that we need our irrational fear to keep us in check and that if we didn’t have this illusory mental barrier we’d all be running around in a state of debauched anarchy, ripping each other’s clothes off without permission, looting department stores, and killing each other.
I beg to disagree.
What these future jailbirds are forgetting is that, when we’re real, it’s not our fear that keeps us in check but our sense of wholeness in ourselves that allows us to relate to everybody and everything around us. Even if you don’t want to see it in those terms, it’s not like as soon as your irrational fears are taken out of the equation that your sense of rationality and ability to think for yourself will be cancelled out too.
You’re not gonna go jump off a cliff or leap out the window just because your social programming is under better management.
When you’re real, you have the discipline and self-control necessary to be able to move forwards with your vision (choo choo) and to manage your biological wiring and social conditioning. In other words, you have mastery over yourself – this means that you can have a life without fear and stay out of jail.
Fear is the thing that makes us unreal in the first place – when people think that without fear they’d turn into lunatics and go off the rails, what they’re really saying is that they have a co-dependent relationship with their fear and that they’ve allowed it to define them.
As you read the rest of this article, think about how you can live some of these ideas without being in a cage (mental or physical). If you have fear about losing your fear then you’re in deeper than you think but it’s all part of the same process and you can free yourself whenever you’re ready.
All you gotta do is get real.
Fear Without Fear: Wholeness Over Fragmentation
Most of what you read on this website or in Personal Revolutions: A Short Course in Realness is about letting go of your fear. As you start to live a more real life of purpose that is shaped around your real human values and aligned with your realness, you will start to feel less fear anyway.
On this site, we’ve already looked at getting on The Train and living your purpose as well as learning to kill your fear of loss by developing an abundance mentality. Ultimately, all of the things we talk about boil down to the same thing: knowing yourself in your wholeness, instead of attaching to fragments, and then doing something to express it.
The rest of this article will build on that basic idea: that a lack of fear means you are being real / whole and the presence of (irrational) fear means that you’re being unreal / fragmented at some level (we’ll elaborate).
Stop Holding Yourself Back with ‘Nothing’
Here are some basic things you can start doing to stop giving attention to the ‘nothing’ of unreal or irrational fear:
Step out of your black and white thinking by letting go of ‘good’ and ‘bad’: Reality just is what it is – it isn’t ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘right’ or ‘wrong’; it just is and you either accept it or you don’t. This doesn’t mean that you become passive or nihilistic because being real is about being full, not empty (as passivity and nihilism suggest) and about putting this ‘fullness’ out into the world by connecting to what is whole inside you (connected to yourself, the world, and reality) not what appears to be fragmented (disconnected from yourself, the world, and reality).
Killing your irrational fears and moving with your life instead of against it is about letting go of this fragmented dualism in the form of our learned value judgments about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ (etc.) and learning to see things in terms of real or unreal instead. When we look at the world and our intentions for it in terms of ‘real’, we see things in terms of wholeness and become more whole; when we look at the world and our intentions for it in terms of ‘unreal’, we see things in terms of fragments and become more fragmented.
Fragmentation always leads to fear because it is unreal and leads to the kind of friction, frustration, and eventual misery that comes from taking reality out of the equation.
In short, if you can learn to be honest with yourself (if nobody else) you can let go of the ideas of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ that hold you back and just do what needs to be done – if it’s real then it will be about wholeness and won’t harm anybody and will allow you to grow into yourself as the world grows around you.
Set boundaries by learning to say ‘No’ (it’s a magic word): The only thing worth saying “Yes” to is reality because reality is the only thing of any value.
Many of us have been conditioned to say “No” to reality and “Yes” to unreality which means that we end up sending ourselves into hiding, building our lives according to somebody else’s agenda, and then wondering why we’re not living our own lives and being scared to shake the foundations of the unreal life that we’ve built to keep hiding from ourselves.
The easiest way to get your fear in check is to start saying “No” to anything unreal… This is your life and it’s flashing before your eyes. Stop tolerating the bullshit that isn’t serving you or which only serves to reinforce your lack of respect for yourself.
Say “No” to the job that’s holding you back and putting you further and further away from your own soul.
Say “No” to the unreal relationships that sap your energy and take away the valuable time and attention that you could be using to get to where you need to be.
Say “No” to the image you have of yourself that stops you from being whoever it is that you really are.
If you keep tolerating unreality that’s all you’re ever going to get.
Life is too short and the only thing keeping you from your real life is the fear of saying “No” to anything but.
Don’t be scared to ‘break’ your own heart: A broken heart is always more real than a closed one but a real heart can never be broken.
Anybody who ‘closed’ their own heart is just living in fear and that fear comes from a fundamental misunderstanding about who you are, what you’re capable of, and what reality is.
The truth is that your ‘heart’ (or whatever you wanna call it) can’t be broken because your heart is that part of you that is connected to the whole and nothing that is whole is capable of being broken into pieces.
The feeling of being ‘broken’ just means that you’ve exposed a gap between your ideas about yourself, the world, and reality and that you’re growing more real by healing this divide.
You keep your fear at bay by trusting and believing in yourself and not worrying about being broken because you understand that everything is a process and you will rise again with a stronger connection to reality.
The most fearful thing you can do is ‘close’ your heart because you’ve been hurt in the past, perceive yourself to have failed, or because somebody judged you and you treated this judgment as being real… A closed heart is just the illusion of stasis and will lead to a lack of activity and an attachment to the ego.
Kill your fear by knowing nothing can break what’s real about you. Close nothing about yourself and be open to everything (whilst still setting boundaries by saying “No” to unreality).
Stop Listening to the World Over Reality: Irrational fear is what happens when you don’t really understand that there is a difference between ‘The World’ and ‘Reality’. The short version is that ‘Reality’ just is what it is but ‘The World’ can be changed if you’re real enough.
The reason ‘The World’ can be changed is that it’s just a bunch of conceptual ideas that we’ve collectively decided to treat as being real, not something that’s actually real in itself (we spend a lot of time arguing about and shifting these concepts based on our own interpretations of things which are influenced by our inner ‘stuff’).
Listening to the world instead of reality is the cause of your conditioning: the shoulds that make you hesitate instead of being spontaneous and taking real action; the ideas about how you should look or feel or think in certain situations.
Flip the script and listen to yourself before you listen to the world – the world is really just the unreal product of everybody else’s fears and it gives you more fears to be controlled or influenced by.
Stop listening. Tune out. Listen to yourself and nobody else. Ball up and live real.
Learn to manage your fear internally and externally: Rational fears can usually be dealt with externally – by either exposing yourself to things incrementally (if there’s no danger) or by removing yourself from the source of that fear in some way (literally GTFO or abolishing whatever has triggered the fear).
Irrational fears need to be dealt with internally at the level of your belief system: this might require testing your assumptions about yourself, the world, and reality (check out Personal Revolutions: A Short Course in Realness) or by learning to manage your interpretations of things at the psychological and sociological levels to make sure that they’re as real as possible (more real, less fear).
In general, it comes down to remembering that there are three sides to every story: your side, my side, and the truth.
If you’re lacking truth at some level, then the likelihood of fear increases because a lack of truth means a lack of wholeness and an attachment to fragments at the level of your identity. This is where things start to get interesting because the presence of irrational fear means that you have constructed an unreal personality for yourself and need to dismantle it by remembering that you’re wearing a mask and taking it off.
Find your tribe: No man or woman is an island – we have evolved to be social creatures and to live and share our lives with others. A lot of irrational fear comes from the fact that you’ve been living an unreal life and so have surrounded yourself with unreal people that aren’t part of your tribe.
Your tribe = people who share your values and who are growing in the same direction.
When we lose touch with our tribe, we feel isolated and restless and start to lose social momentum because we keep hitting illusory external barriers in the form of unreal people and situations.
The first step to finding your tribe is getting in touch with your real self and getting out into the world – the more real you are, the more real other people will be in your presence. Get on the Train, live your purpose, and find others who are going to share it with you.
Help those that are more afraid than you: As you become less fearful as you stop giving into the fragments that you carry, you’ll begin to see the fear that you left behind in the faces of almost everybody around you.
Most people are afraid because they’ve been conditioned in the same way that we all have – they’re in a kind of woken dream as they go through life responding to the ideas in their heads instead of the reality that’s in front of them.
Helping others by being compassionate and speaking with your actions, not just your words, allows them to become less fearful, but also allows you to go deeper into reality as you learn more about your own fear by helping them with theirs. Ultimately, you will see that both are unreal.
The greatest way you can help others is by responding and communicating to what’s real in people when they come to you, not their fear. This might anger those who are trying to hide their souls from themselves behind their unreality (see this post about drama and taking the mask off) but, ultimately, you’ll be doing them a favour by seeing the best in them and respecting them enough to not buy into the bullshit that they tell themselves.
The price for this, of course, is that you have to be real with yourself. Get over your own fear and then guide others down the path that you’ve walked on: it’s always about being more or less real than you currently are.
Live on your edge by taking action and thinking big: To grow real, you have to keep learning and keep taking action so that you can spend as much of your life as possible in the ‘sweetspot’ of your edge.
Your edge is just where your ideas meet reality and you get new insight that sets you free of the fear-motivated patterns and ideas that are holding you back.
Without finding your edge (not having somebody else tell you where it is) you will only ever go around in the same circles and repeat the same patterns that are familiar to you.
Find your edge by actively chasing the goals that challenge you and even scare you a little bit; put yourself in the lion’s den and face the parts of yourself you know you’ve been hiding from yourself.
Think big and take action. Don’t spend your life just doing what you’re comfortable with – that’s the embodiment of fear and it will only lead you to where you already are.
“Only ever doing what feels comfortable is a form of suicide.”
Know where you are and don’t judge yourself: A lot of the fear in our life comes from the fact that we’re constantly judging ourselves and our progress in relation to the imaginary standards and ideas that we have about ourselves in relation to other people.
Not only is all judgement unreal because it’s an example of fragmentation over wholeness but it is also usually rooted in unnecessarily complicated ideas about what human life is.
Here are the only three stages of human life that you really need to concern yourself with:
Stage One: Childhood – In which we have no (irrational) fear because we are in a state of wholeness.
Stage Two: Unreality – In which we have nothing but (irrational) fear because we are in a state of fragmentation due to the shame that we have been taught about our wholeness and the mask we have been CONDITIONED to wear because of this shame.
Stage Three: Personal Revolution / Realness (Reality) – In which we return back to wholeness because we have found ourselves in a situation that exposes the gap between our ideas about ourselves and the world and reality or because we otherwise ‘wake up’ to the truth somehow and put it into action.
If you look around you, you will see that most people never go through a ‘Personal Revolution’ and die clinging to the little fragments of unreality that they define themselves by and which leave them in a state of confused frustration that leads to lives of quiet desperation.
Be honest with yourself about which of these three stages you’re in – going through a ‘Personal Revolution’ doesn’t mean that the world won’t creep in from time to time and that you’ll never experience irrational fear again but it does mean that you’ll be more whole overall.
If your life is defined by fear in the form of friction, anxiety, or any other shades of unreality then you’re still in stage two and you have to get back to being real at some level (yourself, the world, and reality or all three).
Knowing where you are and where you’re going will keep your fear in check – especially if you design a process that allows you to start becoming more whole again (like getting on the Train and making your values valuable to others, etc.).
Fear is a normal part of our human lives but it isn’t life itself.
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