Your Greatest Enemy — Fear Itself

fear itselfYour Greatest Enemy
— Fear Itself

In his first inaugural address, incoming President Franklin D. Roosevelt asserted his firm belief that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”  

He was speaking, of course, to a nation buried in the depths of economic depression during a time when so many people had lost all semblance of hope. “Yet,” he said . . .

“our distress comes from no failure of substance.  We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for.  Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it.  Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply.”

What Roosevelt said to the nation about fear itself in 1933
applies at least as much to life in today’s world.

We may be surrounded by abundance, filled with all sorts of gifts and talents and skills, supported by our friends and family, faced with unlimited opportunities just waiting to be met, yet we fail to move forward, conquer life and live our dreams.  We fail in our relationships, in our profession, in our financial success, all because of one single enemy — fear.  Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of others’ opinions, fear of our perceived lack of ability or worthiness, fear of things and people we perceive as more powerful than ourselves, fear of what we might become, fear of what we may lose, fear of the bridges we may have to burn, fear of building new bridges, fear of all the unknowns.

fear of other creaturesIn the animal kingdom, the sense of fear in other creatures is a powerful tool.

If a predator senses the slightest bit of fear in its prey, the prey is doomed.  Bravado can’t be faked.  But if the bravado is genuine, it doesn’t matter how powerful the enemy is, the potential prey can overcome and survive.  Take for example the lion — one of the most feared and powerful creatures on earth.  Yet the lion is not without even more powerful and deadly enemies.  The crocodile, for example, could easily maim and kill an adult lion with one chomp of its lethal jaws.  Yet the lion has one weapon that allows it to prevail — it’s innate belief in itself and its own power.

If we are to have more financial and professional success, better and more rewarding relationship, a greater sense of community with those around us, more peace in our world, we must change our negative emotional patterns stemming from the damaging fears and false beliefs that we have allowed to be embedded in our psyche, and replace those fears with a sense of confidence and competence in ourselves, along with a greater belief in the goodness of others.

light in darknessLiving in fear is living in darkness, and the only antidote to darkness is light.

The New Testament teaches that “You are the light of the world” (Matt 5:14) and “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5).  Once you begin to shine your light on the source of your fears, you will overcome them, and in that light you will be able to see more clearly where you are meant to go and what you are meant to become.

Here’s to living a life of passion without fear!

Steve Vernon photo

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  • Mark Brody

    Your first line sucked me into your post and I am very glad it did. Roosevelt was a very pragmatic leader. Not only did he allay the fears of all Americans, he also realized that fears existed not just locally, but globally. One of the most memorable Fireside chat quotes that I remember from college was, “if your neighbors house caught fire, would you not offer them a hose”. Of course he was speaking of the beginning of his lend-lease foreign policy. This policy allowed him to help Americans begin to get back to prosperity, without engaging us directly into the war.
    Leaders can not fear making decisions, nor can people in their personal lives. If we do, we become the prey.
    Great post! Thank you for sharing!

    • http://stevelvernon.com/ Steve Vernon

      Thanks for some great additional insight, Mark. Good stuff!

  • ILIDIO CARDOSO

    We are our worst enemy and fear dominates !!

    • http://stevelvernon.com/ Steve Vernon

      Too often so true, Ilidio.

  • Lori Gosselin

    Overcoming fear is the first step to changing – everything! :-)
    Lori

    • http://stevelvernon.com Steve Vernon

      I agree totally, Lori. Thanks for pointing that out. :-)

    • http://stevelvernon.com/ Steve Vernon

      You’re absolutely right, Lori!

  • Allison Bush

    Well written !

    • http://stevelvernon.com/ Steve Vernon

      Thanks Allison!