Be Unstoppable: Nothing to Fear
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Profound words spoken by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during his inauguration speech on March 4, 1933.
But what do those words mean? What truth do they carry?
There is truth there; weighty truth.
Fear is a master who knows no mercy; it is not a respecter of persons; it doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, famous or infamous, successful or limping along in life. It is out to imprison, to cripple, to paralyze.
Fear has the power to make a grown man stand still in indecision, cause him to second-guess his every move. It inhibits action, stalls progress, brings forward motion to a complete stand still.
Fear produces grisly images in our mind, conjures thoughts of evil and malintent. Promises death, destruction, torment. It’s an uninvited guest who comes with tales of woe and sorrow and harm and injury.
Fear causes the young boy to see hideous beasts intent on maiming and worse in every innocent, impotent shadow. Fear stirs the woman to accuse her husband of cheating on her, though his actions have been nothing but pure and wholesome. Fear drives a man to work endless hours, convincing himself he’s doing it for his family, when his family only wants him present.
Because of fear, men do not act. Because of fear, children do not sleep. Because of fear, leaders fail. Because of fear, societies collapse.
Fear is a foe that has haunted mankind since the beginning, showing itself in the coverings of Adam and Eve, the jealousy of Cain, the exile of Moses, the insecurity of Samson, the paranoia of Saul, the ruthlessness of the Caesars, the hatred of Hitler, the inactivity of you and me.
But fear has no body, it is not of flesh and bone, there is no blood coarsing through its veins. It does not have a soul or even a heartbeat. It has no eyes through which to watch its victories, no mind in which to gloat in the destruction it causes.
Fear is not real; it is entirely a product of our imagination.
Fear only resides in our minds. It is created from our weaknesses and paranoias, our uncertainty of things to come. It feeds on thoughts, drinks heavily from past experiences, and craves possibilities, but it has no substance.
Fear has no power because it is not real. Fear has no authority because it tinkers in what may happen, not what will come to pass. Fear speaks lots of words about failure and pain and heartache and embarrassment and loss; it is a beady-eyed, round-faced little man who sits in the shadowed corners of our mind and whispers tales of doom and tribulation, but it can offer no promise. It does not speak with certainty, only with conjecture.
And we buy it. We take the bait. Hook. Line. Sinker.
Realize this: fear has no power if we don’t listen to it. It can only burrow into our mind and heart and do its dirty work if we give it the attention it craves.
Yes, some fear is good, normal, and healthy. A fear of fire and its ability to burn may keep us from harming ourselves. A fear of heights and the sudden impact at the end of a long fall may keep us from doing irreparable damage. But that same fear, overfed, overconfident, and bloated on itself will keep the firefighter from climbing the thirty-foot ladder and rescuing a child from a burning home.
That’s the ability of fear to paralyze and render man helpless and hopeless. And that’s the ability we must fight against.
With every trial, every obstacle, every challenge, comes fear. Its there, riding the coattails, chasing the ambulance, hovering in the background. It sees fresh meat and begins to drool, its appetite stirred. And no sooner have you recognized the challenge than fear is there with its dark warnings and groundless promises.
Don’t ignore fear. That is the way of of the fool, the reckless, those who rush into battle headlong and without restraint and cause harm to others. But control fear. For if you don’t, it will control you. It will keep you on a short leash and hinder your ability to live life to the fullest. It will handicap you and relinquish you to the sidelines where you’ll be nothing more than a frustrated spectator.
Fear, when it is controlled, is meant to protect us. Out of control, it only harms. Controlled, it sharpens our skill and focuses our vision; out of control, if dulls the senses and clouds the mind.
We have nothing to fear but fear itself. Wise words to live by, profound words to succeed by.