What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?

What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid?Lately I’ve been hearing this question over and over again:

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

It’s a good question, meant to inspire us to dream beyond our boundaries, to “think big,” to pursue our goals. But I think we tend to hear it and then brush it off, not really spending time with it.

Maybe we think we’re not afraid of much. Or the opposite — thinking about our fears overwhelms us. Maybe we don’t have time for such silly exercises.

I had a hard time wrapping my mind around the point of the question. And I found myself getting defensive, if only in my mind. I’m doing the best I can. Why must I feel bad for not doing MORE?

But then I decided to honestly consider the question. What would I do if I weren’t afraid?

Maybe I would speak up more honestly on my blog… if I weren’t afraid of how I’d be perceived.

Maybe I would take a week at a spa all by myself…if I weren’t afraid of upsetting my family and falling behind on client work.

Maybe I would write my memoir… if I weren’t afraid of how much work it would be and the time it would take.

Maybe I would stop all social media—no blogging, Twitter, Facebook, anything… if I weren’t afraid of the results of being invisible.

By going through this process, I realized the point of the question is to discover our hidden lurking goals, dreams and desires—the ones that are down so deep, we might not even realize they are there. And in this discovery, we might find a way to begin pursuing those desires in a way that circumvents the fears.

I doubt I’ll take a spa week by myself. But simply allowing that desire to surface showed me that perhaps I am weary and have a deep need for rest. Is there a way I can find rest in a non-scary way?

Every time we answer the question, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” we come into contact with important information about ourselves. We can look beneath our answers to find our deepest truths. We can also confront our fears, and assess whether they are worth heeding, or if we should charge ahead right through the fear.

♦ If you weren’t afraid of rejection, would you be sending out more queries to agents?

♦ If you weren’t afraid of being vulnerable, would you write your novels more truthfully?

♦ If you weren’t afraid of technological challenges, would you have self-published that book already?

Tell us:

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

And what can you learn about yourself by answering the question?

 

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  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    I wouldn’t be doing anything different, because most of what I might denigrate as fear I can also honor as common sense. It’s too easy to set up ‘fear’ as a straw man, that can be defeated with a fairly straightforward decision that leads to a somewhat pleasant result.

    Fear of doing something you want to do because of the possible repurcussions falls into this category.

    Real fear is of that which you don’t want to do under any circumstances – but know you must.

    (And, I might add – what may appear to be courage may simply mean you’ve run out of options)

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/

    • JoAnne Potter

      Someone posed this question on a whiteboard in the teachers’ lounge a
      few years ago and I still don’t have a really good answer to it, but I think yours comes close–

      Real fear is of that which you don’t want to do under any circumstances – but know you must.

      It has less to do with choices and more to do with necessity. I knew a measure of fear when my husband had cancer, but little choice about which path to take.

      But, whether we are making choices or walking by necessity into unknown territory, we don’t have to go alone. That must be why scripture equates fear with lack of faith. It makes perfect sense.

      • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

        Perfect faith casteth out fear, yes, but even Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, was terrified.
        It’s really how we respond to fear. Peter denied knowing Jesus three times, because he was – rightly – afraid. Jesus sweated blood, and asked that He could somehow avoid the horror that was avalanching down on Him, but ultimately He said, “Not my will, but Thine be done.”
        The way He overcame fear was all the more impressive, and a model for us because He really COULD have averted His fate. He had a choice.
        And He chose us!

    • Cherry Odelberg

      Hey Andrew, how did you get your blogsite link to appear at the end of this post?

      • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

        I just pasted it in – and trusted The Man that it would work!

  • J Keith

    While I agree that not doing something due to the possible consequences is not fear it is merely aversion to those consequences – I think fear is present in many things we don’t do. Fear simply means being afraid of something and many writers are afraid of rejection, afraid their work isn’t good enough, they fear the change being successful might bring, they fear the change being a failure might bring. Any way you slice it, fear is a major prohibitive factor in the lives of most people. I really liked this post and its discussion of the statement on what would you do if you weren’t afraid. It was very insightful.

  • http://twitter.com/gemmaleehawdon Gemma Hawdon

    This is a great question. Fear is part of our survival instinct – it keeps us cautious but it can also stop us from experiencing life if we allow it to. I’m terrified of flying but if I let that overcome me I would miss out on seeing countries that fascinate me. If I had no fear I would more easily approach publishers/agents and writers at industry events. Fear prevents me. Thanks Rachelle

  • Sheena-kay Graham

    Gemma is right about fear being our survival instinct. We just have to ensure it doesn’t paralyze us in life.

  • http://www.facebook.com/SarAllenConsult Sarah Allen

    The motto I live by is so similar: “what would you do if you couldn’t fail?” It’s on my email signature and it has served us well. We are on the rollercoaster and it hasn’t failed us yet!
    http://www.intrepidallen.com

  • Yvonne Osborne

    Well, yes, if I weren’t afraid, I would query more widely. I’m afraid that writing truth as I see it is making my novels unpublishable.

    • Lynn Johnston

      I certainly share your fears. Try joining a critique group. They will tell you like it is. Good luck Yvonne.

  • http://www.CreativityUntamed.com/ J. M. Tompkins

    Some of what I write does seem to upset some people, as I come from a conservative background and my writing is contemporary. I do share my work, but I’d like to be able to share it freely, without hesitation. I wonder what I would write if I wasn’t afraid of disappointing those closest to me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1156910627 Beth Browne

    It’s humbling to realize that even someone as successful as you is still afraid of things. I’ll have to add this consideration to my morning pages and give it some thought. Rest is big on my list too. Thank you, Rachelle!!

  • annegoodwin

    I’m frightened of everything, but today’s post was timely because I was especially anxious about the post I had planned for my own blog given the big event in London today. but this gave me courage – even though I don’t think I’ve said anything at all outrageous – so thanks.

    http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/annecdotal.html

  • Julie Garmon

    Oh, how I love this post. I blogged on Living (and Flying!) Fearlessly today.
    Fear has been my lifelong shadow, clinging wherever I go. But slowly, I’m changing. As I surrender, God meets me and helps me. Amazing how He works, but I have to keep letting go.
    There’s no other way to live–to really live!

  • http://forthisisthetime.blogspot.com/ Esther Aspling

    I had this problem with sharing my personal story. My fear was that people wouldn’t reject it, and thus be rejecting me. I found the complete opposite was true! People were encouraged and so was I! I stomped all over fear and I’m glad I did.

    http://forthisisthetime.blogspot.com/

  • WendyPaineMiller

    Love this post. Simply love it.

  • http://cherylbarker.blogspot.com/ Cheryl Barker

    Great food for thought, Rachelle.

  • LisaR @ Who Stole My Baby?

    I’m in the middle of embracing the “fear” part of this question right now. I’m taking a big step, leaving a job that I still kind of like, to do things that I want to do more. Namely, write. And have a baby. It’s scary, but it’s also thrilling to choose significant change in your life.

  • Charise Olson

    One of the most powerful sermons of my life asked the question, “What would you do if you knew God was on your side?” And then of course, “Isn’t he?” Love this post!

  • Stacey Thureen

    What a great reminder to us all, and a good exercise on taking personal inventory.

  • Roxanne Sherwood Gray

    My worst fear came true: My husband died suddenly on his way home from work, leaving me with seven kids, 1-20. I had no time to say goodbye or to prepare in any way for my new life. Although I’d have expected to hold my children closer after our tragedy, instead I conquered my fears and allowed them to pursue their dreams. The older ones have attend college away and have traveled on missions trips, even trips that could be a bit dangerous.

    But my writing is a different story. I’ve dreamed of being published for so long but circumstances, including a special needs’ child, prevented me from pursuing it any sooner. I haven’t queried because I’ve been afraid that my work wasn’t ready and I didn’t want to waste an agent/editor’s time with anything less than my best or ruin future opportunities by rushing too early. Now the pieces are coming together in my personal life to support my writing. I’m going to need to push past fear of rejection, so I don’t live a life wondering “If only . . . “

    • http://www.majorinthegraceofgod.blogspot.com/ dale carroll-coleman

      You go girl. You have survived one of the hardest punches life can throw. I am a survivor of that also, but with one infant and not all your hands had to hold and comfort. You can do anything!

    • Paula Moldenhauer

      Sweet blessings to you, Roxanne. Many of us are cheering you on in your journey. You are not alone!

    • Jeanne Takenaka

      Roxanne, I can hardly WAIT to read your books when they come out. You’re so gifted in many ways, including n your writing. Keep at it, my friend!

    • http://www.cathrynhasek.com/ Cathryn Hasek

      If you don’t already, Roxanne, you should try blogging. It has helped build my confidence to write for publication after losing all of my immediate family within just a few years. It’s personal, public but healing.

    • Lynn Johnston

      Roxanne, I have never experienced your kind of loss, but I have struggled with concerns about my writing. Like you, I share a dream of becoming a published author but I have stopped querying for the same reasons. I joined a critique group to help me polish my craft so that I can stop wasting opportunities.

      I wish you the best and hope that you find what it takes to make your dreams come true.

  • Jane Lebak

    I’m afraid of setting myself and my house on fire, so we don’t own a gas grill. I think that’s okay, though. ;-)

    But your questions are talking about fears that are largely unrealizable or things people don’t want to face or prefer not to face. They prefer not to face rejection and so keep the book in a drawer, when rejection won’t literally kill them. What about when your fears are real, living things where the consequences could be exactly as dire as your house burning down, losing your soul, losing custody of your children, and so on?

    Fear isn’t bad in and of itself. It’s a signal that there’s danger. The problem is when the danger signal goes off and the danger isn’t a true danger. Those fears need to be squashed down and we need to pretend we aren’t afraid in those circumstances. But having felt real fear in a situation with real consequences, I can’t say fear is in and of itself always a thing to be ignored.

  • http://twitter.com/KristenLNelson Kristen Nelson

    This was just what I needed today! Love it! Thank you for sharing (and not being afraid to be totally transparent) :) This ministered to me today!! (you might just have a book proposal coming your way now…) ;-) Blessings! Krissy

  • http://www.majorinthegraceofgod.blogspot.com/ dale carroll-coleman

    I love this! An important question to ask ourselves. We all have that voice in our head, that is a bit to loud, telling us… We just don’t have it, the chops, the stamina, the talent! I call B.S. on it! Great reminder for me today… I need to listen to the voice of Truth instead.

  • Kathryn Barker

    In the scheme of fears…facing what you never imagined and pleading from the depth of your heart that it not be true…does, in the long run of life, offer a perspective for evaluating other “fears.” When our six year old son was killed, I feared I could not live another minute…except…we had a precious four year old son…and so, each morning I rose, ask the Lord for help, and faced the days…one by one. The “fears” that assaulted me every moment of every day for a long time were overcome only by the Grace of God.

    Today, if I think I “fear” something, I know without a doubt, I have overcome the worst fear of my life, with the Lord’s help, and have still embraced life with enthusiasm. I may have anxiety about whatever I want to do next, but I am not afraid, because my marker for facing fear has been established, and I have prevailed.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking discussion Rachelle.

  • http://www.letters-to-the-cosmos.blogspot.com/ Sarah Stasik

    This is something I’ve been wrestling with for a while; I’ve been writing chapters upon chapters of two books, then scrapping them all and starting over because they just aren’t right. And I’ve come to realize that I’m making those books safe and there’s a completely different story I should be tell, but I’m terrified to do it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/stacy.thowe Stacy Thowe

    This is the ultimate question. I have come to ask myself this many times in the recent years. I think as human beings we tend to live our lives as if we will be here forever. We push off our dreams and desires and say we we will do it someday, and usually someday never happens. And it all seems to be because we are afraid to pursue that dream for fear of failure. I have recently tried to change my mindset. I have begun to ask myself, if not now, when? This has pushed me to pursue my dreams in a more urgent regard, to put myself out there, even if I fail.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chopeclark C Hope Clark

    OMG, this is straight out of my lessons in The Shy Writer Reborn. One of the three biggest tricks I give in dealing with being shy. Thanks! http://www.chopeclark.com

  • Brenda K.

    Those questions make me ask a third. “Why should we ever be afraid?” If the worst should come about, would our preliminary fears have helped us cope at all?

  • Cherry Odelberg

    Somehow, that question stumps me every time.
    I also gain insight from asking, “What am I afraid of?” Some options include: embarrassment, rejection, poverty, failure….

  • Ginger

    This question has hit on an issue that I think I need to address in myself, so I really don’t have an answer.

    If I weren’t afraid, I would be honest about what I would do if I weren’t afraid.

  • http://twitter.com/quirkycity Heather C Button

    What would I do if I weren’t afraid? I would learn to say ‘No’ to people so I could pursue my passions fully.

    • Paula Moldenhauer

      powerful.

      • http://twitter.com/quirkycity Heather C Button

        Thanks Paula.

  • Paula Moldenhauer

    This is a powerful question. Last November I sat on a beach in Florida and asked it repeatedly. Only it sounded more like, “what if I quit hiding?” It moved me forward in some powerful ways. I bought my first bikini top since my honeymoon and allowed the sun to kiss my tummy. I dug into weight loss and have lost close to 50 pounds now. I had a “scary” conversation with my husband that brought greater intimacy. I quit crying alone. I shed a little more of the pressure to be a “good” girl. I cleaned out an office that had piled up for 20 years, and my husband and I started fresh. My desk in no longer in a closet! I told a doctor, “No. No more physical therapy. I need to regain my life, not just keep fighting to get well, but to live as if I am.” I started a blog about what it feels like to be fat, quit hiding, and lose weight, and I have people coming to me for encouragement as they try to get healthy. It goes on and on. In every case the result were productive and positive.

  • Jeanne Takenaka

    What would I do if I weren’t afraid? Sky dive, say no more often so I can spend more time writing. I would stop worrying about how others perceive me and walk through each day in confidence.
    This is a question I need to ponder some more. I have usually looked at it and stopped at the “afraid of” part, rather than thinking about this question with the idea of understanding my hidden dreams. I really like that perspective. Thanks, Rachelle.

  • http://twitter.com/sicklove Dylen Durret

    I already live without fear

  • kelly garriott waite

    Great post with some amazing responses – I’m trying to live fearlessly–giving up on the East Coast and moving home to a small local village in a hundred-year-old home; trying to buy everything locally and stay out of those big stores; striving for closeness with the people I love. Not there yet…

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  • http://www.facebook.com/sharyn.kopf Sharyn Kopf

    As they say in Strictly Ballroom, “A life lived in fear is a life half-lived.” May God help us all to face the fears that keep us from fulfilling His calling on our lives!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/erin.pearson.391 Erin Pearson

    I have been confronting my fears as of late, and building my confidence by putting myself out there. I have done enough reaching for compliments to build myself up, now I must take on the challenge of believing in myself all on my own. My work is going to be published someday, in God’s time. Until then, I will continue to fight for it and I refuse to show fear. I don’t feel that fear is ever going to disappear from my life, especially in reference to my writing, but I don’t think that I want it to. Without that fear, I wouldn’t know just how important it is to me to keep going, to keep trying.

    If I weren’t afraid, I wouldn’t push myself and challenging myself is what keeps me the best writer I can be.

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  • Celia Jolley

    I’m late coming to the discussion, but I am celebrating overcoming some of my fears today. After having one book published by a small press last October giving me confidence in my abilities, I realized the query part of publishing was too consuming. So this week since I was shackled by shingles to my chair with my laptop, I e-published four of my books on amazon kindle kdp confident someone out there might enjoy them as much as I did writing them. What was just as exhilerating was giving up on waiting for one of my children to have mercy on poor ol’ mom, and figured out how to do it myself. I even discovered how to change the format on one, how to create an author’s page and to post it all up on fb and on my daily blog. C’est fini! This is not overcoming
    one of life’s horrible fears, but it a huge relief from a bottleneck in my life. I’m still many gigabytes (sp?) short of being a techy, it was a huge stride overcoming my fear of the unknown.

  • Celia Jolley

    I’m late coming to the discussion, but I am celebrating overcoming some of my fears today. After having one book published by a small press last October giving me confidence in my abilities, I realized the query part of publishing was too consuming. So this week since I was shackled by shingles to my chair with my laptop, I e-published four of my books on amazon kindle kdp confident someone out there might enjoy them as much as I did writing them. What was just as exhilerating was giving up on waiting for one of my children to have mercy on poor ol’ mom, and figured out how to do it myself. I even discovered how to change the format on one, how to create an author’s page and to post it all up on fb and on my daily blog. C’est fini! This is not overcoming
    one of life’s horrible fears, but it a huge relief from a bottleneck in my life. I’m still many gigabytes (sp?) short of being a techy, it was a huge stride overcoming my fear of the unknown.

  • Celia Jolley

    I’m late coming to the discussion, but I am celebrating overcoming some of my fears today. After having one book published by a small press last October giving me confidence in my abilities, I realized the query part of publishing was too consuming. So this week since I was shackled by shingles to my chair with my laptop, I e-published four of my books on amazon kindle kdp confident someone out there might enjoy them as much as I did writing them. What was just as exhilerating was giving up on waiting for one of my children to have mercy on poor ol’ mom, and figured out how to do it myself. I even discovered how to change the format on one, how to create an author’s page and to post it all up on fb and on my daily blog. C’est fini! This is not overcoming
    one of life’s horrible fears, but it a huge relief from a bottleneck in my life. I’m still many gigabytes (sp?) short of being a techy, it was a huge stride overcoming my fear of the unknown.

  • Celia Jolley

    I’m late coming to the discussion, but I am celebrating overcoming some of my fears today. After having one book published by a small press last October giving me confidence in my abilities, I realized the query part of publishing was too consuming. So this week since I was shackled by shingles to my chair with my laptop, I e-published four of my books on amazon kindle kdp confident someone out there might enjoy them as much as I did writing them. What was just as exhilerating was giving up on waiting for one of my children to have mercy on poor ol’ mom, and figured out how to do it myself. I even discovered how to change the format on one, how to create an author’s page and to post it all up on fb and on my daily blog. C’est fini! This is not overcoming
    one of life’s horrible fears, but it a huge relief from a bottleneck in my life. I’m still many gigabytes (sp?) short of being a techy, it was a huge stride overcoming my fear of the unknown.

  • Celia Jolley

    I’m late coming to the discussion, but I am celebrating overcoming some of my fears today. After having one book published by a small press last October giving me confidence in my abilities, I realized the query part of publishing was too consuming. So this week since I was shackled by shingles to my chair with my laptop, I e-published four of my books on amazon kindle kdp confident someone out there might enjoy them as much as I did writing them. What was just as exhilerating was giving up on waiting for one of my children to have mercy on poor ol’ mom, and figured out how to do it myself. I even discovered how to change the format on one, how to create an author’s page and to post it all up on fb and on my daily blog. C’est fini! This is not overcoming
    one of life’s horrible fears, but it a huge relief from a bottleneck in my life. I’m still many gigabytes (sp?) short of being a techy, it was a huge stride overcoming my fear of the unknown.

  • Celia Jolley

    I’m late coming to the discussion, but I am celebrating overcoming some of my fears today. After having one book published by a small press last October giving me confidence in my abilities, I realized the query part of publishing was too consuming. So this week since I was shackled by shingles to my chair with my laptop, I e-published four of my books on amazon kindle kdp confident someone out there might enjoy them as much as I did writing them. What was just as exhilerating was giving up on waiting for one of my children to have mercy on poor ol’ mom, and figured out how to do it myself. I even discovered how to change the format on one, how to create an author’s page and to post it all up on fb and on my daily blog. C’est fini! This is not overcoming
    one of life’s horrible fears, but it a huge relief from a bottleneck in my life. I’m still many gigabytes (sp?) short of being a techy, it was a huge stride overcoming my fear of the unknown.

  • http://icandrive.ca/insurance/ cheap insurance

    What an insightful, and inspiring article. Thank you for sharing a bit of who you are and your courage – it is inspiring!

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