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We all experience fear. But what many people don’t realize is that they can use fear to propel themselves to the next level. It doesn’t have to paralyze you.

In fact, fear is a learned behavior. This means you can learn to overcome it.

In this episode, I discuss the positive aspects of fear and how your fear can lead you to the life of your dreams.

Show Highlights Include:

  • When fear is a good thing and how you can use it to your benefit (1:51)
  • Why doing things that scare you can lead to the most fulfilling experiences (6:03)
  • How to overcome your fears of financial scarcity so you can pursue the life you want to live (9:05)
  • A liberating statistic on the things we fear that will give you the courage to take your next step (11:59)
  • The “fear decision” you make that will move your life forward instead of keeping you stuck in place (12:17)
  • Why the status quo is the scariest thing of all and how to use that fear to level up your life (13:18)

Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Click here to get the first chapter of Dr. Rick’s best-selling book, Lessons From a Third Grade Dropout, for free.

Read Full Transcript

Welcome to “How You Living?” a transformative podcast featuring best-selling author, inspirational speaker and minister, Dr. Rick Rigsby—and, now, Dr. Rick.

Dr. Rigsby: Hello, friends. So glad to be with you today. I want to talk to you about fear, but more specifically, how fear can paralyze forward progress or propel you to the next level. It's really our choice.

Oh, I couldn't wait to discuss this because, friends, I am tired of living a limited life, limited by what I perceive to be fear too much at the time, and so I've been doing some thinking about this topic for the past few months and I just want to share a few of my thoughts. [01:00.6]

Now, we know that we learn fear as a basic survival instinct. We learned it from childhood. It protects us from legitimate threats, both real and imagined. According to multiple sources, here are some of the top fears that we have: a fear of flying, a fear of heights, a fear of public speaking, a fear of snakes, a fear of spiders, a fear of darkness, a fear of storms, especially thunder and lightning, a fear of going to the dentist. I don't think the fear is going to the dentist. I think the fear is the dentist. A fear of confined spaces. I've even read on several lists, a fear of zombies.

Now, this is what I want you to remember. I want you to remember the fact that we learn to fear. Hold onto that thought. We learn to fear. [02:01.8]

Fear is defined as this unpleasant emotion caused by anticipated danger. It's a conscious awareness that we're in trouble, that we're in danger of some kind, and it's triggered by the threat of harm to us and that threat can be real or imagined, but we learn it.

And if we learn to become afraid, doesn't it seem logical that we can unlearn? Here's the problem, friend. Fear can overwhelm logic. Oh, baby. Isn't that the truth? Fear can overwhelm clear thinking. Fear can overwhelm even our faith. It's a choice. And so, it becomes very important that every single day we develop the courage to make the right choice. [02:57.0]

What did you say, Winston Churchill? On one occasion, Winston Churchill said, “Fear is a reaction. Courage is a choice.” That's good wisdom, friend, because when I realize that it is within my wheelhouse, when I realize that it is possible for me to make a choice, it helps me to maybe not overcome fear, but to face my fear, to deal with my fear, to learn another way other than giving in to fear.

To deal with fear, I've been thinking, means that we must reprogram our minds. I've told you at the beginning of this podcast that I've been thinking about this for several months. It all started with a conversation I had with a very good friend who happens to be a third-degree black belt in martial arts and I loved listening to him talk about the process of being degreed. [04:04.3]

He said to advance, you have to fight other black belts. You know that you're likely not going to win, and so the goal, he said, for him, at least, was not winning. The goal was facing his fear. The goal was dealing with his fear.

He made some very interesting observations. He said one of the things he learned is that fear sucked his energy. He told me that he has learned that fear sucks the energy out of life, and it causes your circle to get smaller and smaller because it reduces your possibilities.

Oh, friend, I tell you that conversation was a wake-up call for a 60-some-year-old man. For me, I started thinking about how many times I have allowed fear to hold me back from what I've truly wanted to do. [05:01.4]

I've been thinking about skydiving and everybody I talked to, it seems like, says, You can't do that. Why would you do that? Why would you want to jump out of a perfectly good plane? I remember talking to my brother who's a retired colonel, United States Army, and he said it was the scariest thing he has ever done and one of the most exhilarating things he had ever done.

Here's the point. You fill in the blank when it comes to activity. I want the exhilarating part. Do something that scares you. Do something that's exhilarating. Do something that creates adventure. Do something that's excitement. That's what life is all about.

Friends, I want to pause here and to share something with you. As a pastor, I am often found at the bedside of many people who are sick and afflicted. Some are dying and I never hear those that are dying say, I'm so sad that I went for it. I never hear that. I never hear those who are dying say, I am so sorry I dealt with my fear and did what I didn't think I could do. I never hear that. [06:12.6]

You know what I hear? I regret that I didn't do it. I regret that I didn't travel more. I regret that I didn't get over my fear and do this activity or that activity. Oh, friend listen to me. Listen to me. You don't want to live a life where your life circle gets smaller and smaller because of fear. You don't want to live a life where fear is constantly holding you back from what you truly want to do.

You know what I've discovered in 64 years? A life requires a little bit of crazy and a whole lot of courage. You know what I also think, too? I also think that oftentimes our fear is misplaced. I really do. [07:00.0]

I remember when I became a new parent, we were trying to decide whether we could afford it. This was back in the 1980s and I can remember people back in the ’80s saying, You know what? I'm going to wait to have children until I can afford them. I bought into that thinking for a while and then realized, Heck, I may never have kids.

Guess what I hear today? I hear people saying, I would pursue my dreams, but how? I hear people saying today, I really don't want to be in this job. What I really want to do is be ________ (fill in the blank), an author, an educator. What I really want to do is go back to school. What I really want to do is take a year off and travel the world, and just be a waiter or a wait person. I hear people say all the time, I really would pursue this adventure in my life, but I just don't know how I could afford it. [07:57.6]

I heard a sermon recently from a Bishop T.D. Jakes and he said something that speaks directly to that. He said, “Worry about the vision more than the provision,” and then he said these words, “Money runs from blindness,” and he's not talking about physical blindness. This is what he means. If there is no purpose behind what you are doing, there will be no provision.

My father was the wisest man I'd ever met in my life. He was a third-grade dropout and he said basically the same thing 35, 40 years ago. My dad told me once, “Rick, here's the goal. The goal is to find something that you enjoy doing that you can feed your family and support your family at the same time.” And he said, “Don't worry about the money. If you have a passion for what you do, the money will take care of itself.”

Listen again to the words of Bishop Jakes. “Worry about the vision more than the provision. Money runs from blindness.” [09:09.5]

Friend, I want to ask you a question. Are you willing to take responsibility for the direction of your life? Because I'm beginning to realize that fear is a mentality. It's a learned behavior, but that there's also a positive side. That same fear is a mentality that can propel you to greater heights.

But what's your evidence, Rick? I love the scripture in Proverbs. Proverbs 9:10, it reads, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” You see, most people see fear as a negative, but that depends on what we choose to be afraid of. This is one of the most important teachings in the Bible. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” [10:04.4]

I want you to note well, we're not to fear religion. We're not commanded to fear denominations. We're not to fear established religious practices or traditions. We're not even called to fear different buildings, shrines, temples, synagogues and church buildings. We're not called to fear the people. We’re called to fear God. What this says to me is if I choose correctly, in this case, if I choose to fear God, I will not fear man or woman, or things. Oh, baby.

As a man of faith, I have to just be straight up with y'all. The fear of the Lord keeps me closer to God and the fear of the Lord keeps me far away from sin. It's all about choice, isn't it? The value of fear really does lie in what is being feared. [11:07.0]

I need to say that again. The value of fear lies in what is being feared. This life is going to have its share of sickness, disease, death, disappointments, disturbances, trials, tribulations, of recent, pandemics and all the associated problems. Friends, choose wisely what you choose to fear, lest you spend your life paralyzed, worried about things that likely will never materialize.

I'll never forget an article I read out of Psychology Today a couple of years ago and the article made this argument that most of what we fear, I believe the stat was 80 percent of that which we fear, never actually materializes. [12:00.5]

You see, choosing what to fear becomes critical. We must not fear making a mistake; we should fear not trying. We must not fear failing; we should fear not going for it. And this third one is really my mantra. We must not fear stretching and growing beyond our comfort zone; we should fear the status quo.

I'm reminded of an astronaut that came down, splashed down and had a news conference. She was the first female to stay at the space station for as long as she did. She was part of a historic all-female spacewalk, and when she was in that news conference, she made this statement. She said, “Do something that scares you.” I like that. We must not fear stretching and growing, but we should fear the status quo and having the status quo characterize our life. [13:10.4]

A friend once told me that fear reduces your circle of life to the point that your language will include words like, I could never do that. I could never fly again. I'm too afraid to go out of the country. I can't learn a new language. I'm too old to go back to school. I could never stand and speak in front of people.

In the words of Henry Ford, my friend, if you think you can or if you think you can't, you're right. So, why not think that you can? Why purposely rob our lives of opportunities? Why purposely limit our lives in ways that we may regret?

I want to close with some words from that famous philosopher, Plato, who said on one occasion, “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark, but the real tragedy of life is when we adults are afraid of the light.” Oh, baby. [14:15.1]

Friends, I want you to think about these words for just a few days and make a choice. My choice today is to be courageous enough, to be courageous enough to deal with my fear. That's a good, good thing to do on a regular basis. Dwell on these things. Think on these things for a few days.

Until we meet again, friends, this is Dr. Rick asking you the most important question I can ask you today. How you livin’?

Are you ready to make an impact in your world right now? Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Dr. Rick wants to give you the first chapter of his bestselling book, “Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout”, absolutely free. Just go to www.RickRigsby.com/FreeGift to get the print or audiobook right now.

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