The only thing we have to fear is fear itself . ~ FDR
Do the thing you fear the most and the death of fear is certain. ~ Mark Twain
It used to be that scary movies only came out around Halloween, and there were just a handful at that. Nowadays they seem to be released throughout the year in waves and are more creepy, disturbing and bloody than ever.
Besides the usual monster mashes and alien invasions, there are the stories that prey on our defenselessness to natural disasters, biological vulnerabilities and other such forces beyond our control. Then there are the films and shows that simply glamorize and cool-ify violence and revenge as well as people who are clearly negative, like serial killers, drug dealers, vampires, ghosts and witches to name a few. That last group scares me the most, as they are slowly but surely desensitizing us to characters with qualities we should not want to be chummy or fall in love with. But I digress…
When it comes to our ‘real’ lives, there are all sorts of metaphoric and literal things that go bump in the night, but the biggest one — and root cause of all the others — is the fear of the unknown. Whether wondering what that noise in the basement is; what havoc a major hurricane, earthquake or terrorist attack will wreak; to being unsure of where your next meal, paycheck or retirement income will come from; or what happens when you have to speak in front of a crowd or after you take your last breath…. all the possibilities that can run rampant in your head boils down to one outcome: not knowing what the outcome is.
Most humans, especially Americans, and particularly New Yorkers, like to control everything. And because we are constantly active and living in this 21st century distraction-filled, overstimulated world, the paradox and irony of the antidote to the fear of the unknown is, for many, the biggest fear of all: knowing ourselves.
The best way to deal with any fear and anxiety (no, not grabbing a Xanax) is to be in the present and confront what is right now, not what was or what could be. And to be in the present, you have to be with yourself.
By being in touch and comfortable with who you are and what you know and are capable of, you can take control of your life in a healthy way and come to trust in the process of a Universe that is always conspiring for your good. At the same time you must be vigilant and discerning as to what might be posing an actual threat or leading you astray. The goal is to balance that faith and trust with information, knowledge and understanding by being practical, realistic and prepared without becoming or succumbing to an alarmist, getting caught up in others’ fears or letting your imagination run wild — because it’s almost never as bad as we think it will be.
There is a school of thought that says the opposite of love is fear, which makes sense since the way to overcome fear is with courage, a word whose Latin root means ‘heart’, the muscle we use to express — you got it: LOVE. So whatever it is you are currently afraid of, Put a Little Love in Your Heart, and notice the fear starts to melt away.
Feeling like the Lion in the Land of Oz? Give me a buzz and I’ll show you what fears are real and imagined, and help you develop the courage to move forward on your own personal yellow brick road. I promise you’ll be stronger, braver and wiser for having made the leap of faith to a new normal where you will wonder, What was I so afraid of in the first place?
Originally published on www.kristinaleonardi.com on August 30, 2011.
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Check out this very-roughly-edited-not-the-best-quality video of uninterrupted remarks wrapping up the workshop “Lead Yourself to Success (in Work & Life!)” In this excerpt covering the final ten minutes, I summarize my thoughts about confidence, being a leader in your own life, maintaining your individuality and humanity in the times we live in, and why the world is relying on you to be successful.
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