Blog | Personal development

The Upside (and the Downside) of Fear

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How a little fear can go a long way

“He who is not every day conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

We all have fears. And when it comes to investing, it’s a simple fact that many women are fearful. The question I hear time and time again, especially from first-time investors is, “How do I overcome my fear?”

The first step, I say, is to know that you’re not alone! Everyone is afraid when it comes time to buy that first rental property or to invest in that first business. Any time you commit your hard-earned money to an investment, you’ll find fear waiting for you.

The upside of fear

Fear has its upside. It alerts us to possible life-threatening situations. You may feel fear when you hear a strange noise late at night. Thinking someone may have broken into your house, you immediately take any necessary action. Fear may set in when you find yourself walking alone through an unlit park at night, so you quickly find the safest route out. If you’re driving in a blinding snowstorm, fear will give you the sense to pull off to the side of the road until the storm subsides.

Fear, in many cases, keeps us alive; that’s a significant upside.

Fear is also helpful when it comes to investing. Whenever we enter into an arena that is unfamiliar and unknown, a little fear can be a good thing. It can motivate us to take one extra in-depth look at the numbers on that rental property or to tune in to the special TV report about the industry in which we just bought stocks. A touch of fear can keep us on our toes and sometimes avoid costly mistakes. This is where fear can serve us.

The downside of fear

There is also a destructive side to fear. While it can warn us of life-threatening events, it can also be a killer—a killer of dreams, of opportunities, of our own personal growth and passion, of living our life to its absolute fullest.

The harmful face of fear is when it paralyzes us -when we’re immobilized and we do nothing. We say, “No,” to the opportunity automatically, without even thinking. All we can see are the things that will go wrong. When this happens, we spew out all the reasons why the investment is a bad, risky, and unwise venture to undertake. The fear of making mistakes, of losing money, and of personal disappointment wins.

Making fear an asset

Fear can be the greatest asset we have. Every time fear comes up, and you’re clear it’s not in a life-threatening situation, that means you have the opportunity to grow and expand yourself.

As I quoted at the beginning of this post, if you’re not conquering some fear each day, you haven’t learned the secret of life.

It’s often through the process of dealing with fear that we grow the most. And when you come through to the other side, it’s exhilarating! You are not the same person you were before.

Think of it this way: Fear is how we grow. Instead of dreading fear, look it straight in the eye and know you’ve just uncovered your next level of growth.

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Original publish date: July 17, 2014

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