There are four simple letters that often have an immense impact on our lives: F.E.A.R.

When we’re afraid, we play small. We doubt our abilities, close our minds, and lull ourselves into complacency. We convince ourselves that the unsatisfying aspects of our lives are ok because we’re too afraid to change.

Sound familiar?

Fear has an insidious quality that creeps up on us. You might have an inner voice, an intuition, a quiet whisper that keeps urging you to make a change: end your relationship, move across the country, leave your job. But then fear creeps in with one of several excuses as to why it’s impossible for you to make a change:

  • “I don’t have [or won’t make] enough money.”
  • “My partner/kids/friends/coworkers will be upset with me.”
  • “I don’t have time.”

Again, these excuses probably sound familiar. To shift your perspective, I want you to consider what your happiness is worth.

  • Is it worth the salary you’re making at a job you hate?
  • Is it worth constantly sacrificing your needs for others?
  • Is it worth feeling burned out, unmotivated, and generally unwell because you’re living a life that other people have defined for you as acceptable?

The answer is no.

The extent to which we allow fear to rule our lives is truly amazing. Especially when you consider one very important thing about fear:

It’s imaginary.

When you feel fear, you’re living in your head—in the world of imagination. All of the worst-case scenarios and dramas that you conjure up exist purely in your mind. The letters F.E.A.R. actually stand for a great acronym:

False Evidence Appearing Real.

Mark Twain once said: “I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” In other words, many of the fearful fantasies that we conjure up in our minds are just that: fantasies. These thoughts might be based on what we believe to be very convincing evidence (e.g. “The economy is bad” or “I’m not smart enough”), but we have no way of knowing whether these fabricated scenarios will actually happen (and they rarely do).

I’ll give an example from my life. Last year, I was offered a full-time research position at a psychiatric hospital. Taking this job would have guaranteed me a stable, thirty-five hour per week paycheck. But this stability would have come at the cost of me giving up many things that I enjoy, like being an independent entrepreneur, doing speaking engagements, and teaching yoga classes.

So I turned the job down.

Was I scared? Heck yes! Fear reared its ugly head many times as I contemplated my options. Fear kept whispering in my ear: “What if you don’t get another opportunity like this?” and “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a stable income?”

But then my true Self, my soul, would interject: “Listen to your heart. Do you want to be tied down to another nine-to-five job, or do you want to keep following your passion?”

In the end, I pushed through the fear and listened to the small, wise voice of my intuition.

The great thing is that when we make courageous choices, things have a funny way of working out. A few days after I turned down the job, one of my independent research contracts asked if they could give me more hours because they had a lot for me to do. So, instead of working in the basement of a bleak psychiatric ward, I wrote this blog at my dining room table while staring out at my garden and listening to the birds.

It’s important for you to know that nothing that I write here today is going to completely eliminate fear from your life. This is because fear is part of the journey. As we feel the fear and do it anyway, we develop faith in our ability to create a life we love. We realize that everything really will work out exactly as it’s meant to.

I encourage you to get out of your mind and get into action. Pause, take a moment, and think about something that you really wish you had in your life right now. It might be a physical possession or something intangible, like a relationship or peace of mind. Then answer this question:

What am I afraid of?

Write down whatever comes to mind. The first step is to acknowledge our fear, bring it out into the light, and expose it for what it really is:

False Evidence Appearing Real.

Now, make a commitment to yourself to take one tiny courageous step, no matter how small, toward living your best life.

Dr. Wayne Dyer, a prolific self-help author, once posted on his Facebook page:

“A woman asked me recently, ‘What are the blocks to my happiness?’ I said, ‘The belief that you have blocks.’

The only thing standing between you and the life you love is you. Life is too short to let fear rule. Right now, choose love and faith instead.

Bethany Butzer, Ph.D. is an author, speaker, researcher, and yoga teacher who helps people create a life they love. Check out her book, The Antidepressant Antidote, follow her on Facebook and Twitter, and join her whole-self health revolution.

If you’d like tips on the topic of manifesting your dream job, plus some personal instruction from Bethany, check out her online course, Creating A Life You Love: Find Your Passion, Live Your Purpose and Create Financial Freedom.

*Photo by favim.