Decide to be Fearless is part 5 in the Choices for Change Series.
“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance…Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.” – John Lennon
One of the most memorable experiences I have of being fearless was also one of my greatest failures. I tried out for the cheerleading squad my junior year of high school. Two of my good friends had been cheerleaders that year, and I had sat “alone” in the bleachers while they did their thing during games. At the time, I envied their cute uniforms and thought it would be fun if we were all cheering together.
I didn’t allow my brain to process the fact that I had absolutely no experience with dancing, gymnastics, or cheerleading, let alone getting up in front of people. I signed up for tryouts, went to the workshops to learn the routine, and practiced on our back patio using the sliding glass door as a mirror. The encouragement from my friends kept me going despite any trepidation I might have felt.
It was not until I was waiting for my turn that I started to process how big of a mistake I was making. My heart was beating out of my chest, I was sweating out of pores I didn’t know existed, and the words RUN entered my mind over and over.
I remember the judges paired us up for tryouts. As luck would have it, Barry Best – yes that was her real name – was my partner. She was my exact opposite – outgoing, a life-long dancer, and returning cheerleader. Her perfection only accentuated my flaws. It was humiliating.
What is Fear?
Fear is our body’s way of reacting to danger. Our racing heartbeat, increased blood pressure, sweating, and breathing becomes quick and shallow all prepare our body to either flee from danger or prepare to fight it.  When allowing fear to help us respond appropriately it can keep us safe from danger.
Some adrenaline junkies love the thrill fear produces. Roller coasters, bungee jumping, or scary movies can all inspire those loving to feel that kind of rush. On the flip side, that sort of rush can be crippling to others.
Crippled or Compelled
Think of a time when you felt fear. Was it because you were afraid of making a fool of yourself, or worrying about how you might be perceived? Maybe it was it to speak up about something you knew wasn’t right or a situation that made you uncomfortable. After the fact did you ever stop to think about how you could have handled it differently? Do you allow your fear to paralyze you from doing things or do you push past the fear and do them anyway?
Society has nurtured many of our fears by associating negative consequences leading us to be either crippled or compelled by fear. What are your greatest fears? Here are some just to name a few:
Chronic fear can lead to problems with our physical and mental health, as well as our memory and brain processing abilities. These effects can make it difficult to regulate our fears and act appropriately. 
The power of being fearless
When I tried out for cheerleading, I was sending a message to my brain. I proved to myself that I could survive something that had me trembling to my toes. I remained hopeful the next day as I searched “The List.”
No, my name did not magically appear on any of the teams. In my devastation, I searched for a pay phone (yes, I’m old) to call my mom. Her reaction empowered me to view fear in a new way.
I came home to posters cheering me on for trying, family members that told me they were proud of me, and a renewed belief in my own ability to do hard things – even when I failed. It was the first of many times I purposefully reprogramed the “fear signals” my brain was sending to my body. Each choice I’ve made to be fearless has empowered me to try again.
Conquering our fears
Overcoming our fears might be as simple as changing a habit. Here are four ideas to help put fear in perspective.
Recognizing our fears is half the battle, learning to conquer them is the other half.
I’ve felt a fear of rejection since starting my blog. My anxiety the day I went live was almost unbearable. What if nobody likes what I have to say? What if people are mean? It has eased over the months, but I still feel fear each time I click publish. I watch my stats and worry about reader reception.
Recognizing my fear and facing it has helped me come up with some strategies. I set goals, I write for myself, and try to let the statistics go. I’ve submitted to other publications and sometimes I’ve been rejected – but I’ve also had some articles be accepted. I continue to write because I feel passionate about it. I’ve learned I cannot let fear limit what brings me joy.
Whether our fears are real or perceived, they can impact our mental and physical well-being.
Taking a step back and evaluating the source of fear and how it fits with reality can help bring greater perspective. Remember F.E.A.R. is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real.
Failure and rejection are unavoidable in life. No one is immune from experiencing the disappointment and pain from failing or being rejected, the key is not allowing it to become a fear. Our fear should not be in failure, but in failing to learn from failure.
I especially loved this TED talk where entrepreneur Jia Jiang shares lessons learned from “100 Days of Rejection.” His life changed over a box of donuts.
In the beginning, I quoted John Lennon who said there were two motivating forces. We have discussed fear and what it can motivate us to do or not do. Now let’s consider love.
“Christ’s perfect love gives us the confidence to press through our fears and place our complete trust in the power and goodness of our Heavenly Father and of His Son, Jesus Christ… Christ’s love will replace fear with faith.” 
Christ’s perfect example of love is discussed in 1 John 4:18. It says: “Perfect love casteth out fear.” As we set aside our fears and choose instead to live with joy, humility, and hope we can develop confidence that the Lord is with us.
I still have a long way to go in becoming fearless in the way I live my life. My faith and love of God have been a motivating force to keep me trying. It is what helps me pick myself up after failure, and it is what brings me peace when I feel surrounded by doubt. For that, I am truly grateful!
How do you conquer your fears?
 A Full-Body Experience. (2017) Retrieved from http://www.fearexhibit.org/brain/full_body_experience
 Towey, Sue RN, CNS, MS, LP. (2016) Taking Charge of Your Health and Wellbeing. Retrieved from https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/enhance-your-wellbeing/security/facing-fear/impact-fear
 Uchtdorf, Dieter F. (2017) lds.org Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/04/perfect-love-casteth-out-fear?lang=eng