Today my sister went in for surgery, which means she needed help with her kids. I helped with one. We went shopping, and there were moments he clearly liked more than others.
Watching him, I remembered what it was like to be a child. I remembered how it felt to be fascinated with some toy and how easy it was to believe that acquiring said object was the only thing that really mattered.
And my nephew was not afraid to announce what he wanted and go after it. In the stores, he naturally gravitated towards the toy dump trucks, backhoes, and excavators. In fact, he tried to take one out of its box to play more with it. I gently restrained him and made a mental note of what to get him for Christmas.
When did we lose it?
I also took notice of the adults around us. The way many of them held themselves suggested they had worries and perhaps even insecurities. I wondered what those might be.
And that got me thinking about my own insecurities from past relationships. In the moment those relationships seemed to matter a lot, especially when I really liked who I was chasing.
And every time those relationships didn’t work out, the fears of being single forever, of never fitting in, of being hurt in each new relationship, of never being truly loved by a good companion — the very same fears that drove my approach to dating from the start — would arise anew, reminding me of yet another self-fulfilled prophecy that came true.
Over time I lost that childhood perspective of fearlessly going after what I wanted. Repeated surrenders to fear created habits which gave me a life based on fear.
We can get it back
In every store we went, my nephew insisted on visiting the toy section. He didn’t waste any time finding what he wanted. And once he found it, he focused his energies on maximizing the joy he could obtain.
Most of us adults have lost that perspective on life. But we can get it back. We start by using a gift God has given to everyone — agency. We just decide to pursue our best life.
What follows, of course, is not so easy. The Law of the Harvest says we have to work for what we want. And simply deciding to live without fear doesn’t turn it off like a switch. Most of the fears that plague us are encoded into habits, and old habits die hard for a reason. We’re designed to operate out of habit. It’s how our brains are naturally hardwired.
To live life without fear requires us to replace old habits — and especially old ways of thinking — with new, more effective ones.
And one new habit we should adopt is working for what we most want, despite the fears of being hurt or rejected or things not working out or whatever. However real and insurmountable our fears may appear to be, it’s really all just illusion.
I could understand that truth more easily as I looked back on my life. I realized that the only thing truly preventing me from having what I wanted was me — how I chose to view my world and how I chose to respond to others’ choices. I realized that none of those insecurities I had really mattered. The only thing that mattered were my choices, because my choices were and are the primary contributor to the life I have now.
In the end, your fear means nothing. It’s just a mental construct that has whatever power you give to it. When you allow your fears to obstruct you, you empower them to imprison you, and you prevent you from living your best life.
And yeah, I understand much fear has basis. You fear getting hurt because you were hurt before. You fear getting rejected because you’ve been rejected before. And you may get hurt and rejected again. In fact, chances are you will.
But because you have agency, you still get to choose your response. So what will it be? Cower in a corner? Or saddle up and face your fears head on? FEAR can mean Flee Everything And Retrograde. Or it could mean Face Everything And Rise. And you get to decide what it means for you.
Me? I’m going after what I want. I know that I’ll probably get hurt along the way. I don’t care anymore. We must pay a price for anything we want in life. Paying that price becomes easier when we stop caring about the cost. No more excuses. I’m going after what I want. I’m going to live my best life. And so can you. So what will you choose?
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and now I produce a weekly radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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