One of the most interesting aspects of wearing costumes, such as at Halloween or a masquerade, is that it gives us a chance to be playful with our fears. We have the opportunity to become someone, or something, else when we dress up in costume. We have the chance to embrace and learn from our shadow selves. As a culture, we have mastered the art of deliberately frightening ourselves with haunted houses, scary movies, and ghost stories. Participating on our own or with our children or grandchildren, we get in touch with the child inside us—the person who knew how to combat fear with imagination.
It’s a skill many of us have forgotten. Our everyday fears and our fears about the future can debilitate us, keeping us from taking that next step, from listening to that visionary voice inside. But when we let our fears prevent us from taking action, we only create a future to be afraid of—one full of regrets, irretrievable opportunities, and a “safe” life that is more frightening than anything.
In that spirit, I invite you to face your fears as though you were watching them on the big screen. Watch them play out and let yourself feel frightened. Then realize, just as at the end of a scary movie, that you can look fear in the eye and still come out fine—perhaps even exhilarated.
Then take it to the next step and become your fear, step into it like a costume. Financial insecurity, business failure—even death . . . so often we see fear as the Other, but today is a day to change your perspective. Use your imagination. Mock what you’re afraid of. Laugh in the face of fear. Rewire how your brain habitually reacts to fear by making an effort to change your response. It won’t come naturally, not at first, but with practice, you can make courage a habit.
Above all, listen to what fear is trying to tell you.
Even though our circumstances change, fear never goes away. Even the most successful people in the world are afraid. But instead of blocking their fears from their minds or hiding out from them, they figure out what their fears are trying to say. Then they plan how to guard against what they are afraid of—and move forward anyway.
Action is the best weapon against our fears. Even small steps can embolden us to take more small steps, then larger steps. Right now, those first steps might be simply writing down everything you are afraid of, then using your imagination to come up with every possible solution. Just mind dump—don’t judge what you write. Sometimes, even the most ridiculous ideas can be springboards to innovative answers we might not have thought of otherwise.
Once you have a game plan in mind, break it down into actionable steps. Then as much as possible, let the fear go. It has served its purpose. You don’t need it anymore.
What is your biggest fear right now? How can you use that fear to plan your next steps?