Fear is the feeling tied closest to our primal instinct, survival. It encourages us to avoid dangerous circumstances by bringing warning signs to our attention. It also helps us escape harmful situations by triggering the release of adrenaline into our veins, giving us levels of speed, strength and awareness that we normally would not have. The “fight or flight” instinct people possess is directly tied to the observance of some threat; something we know we should fear. A force that threatens our very existence.
Unfortunately, fear also has a paralyzing effect, literally freezing people in place as they’re overtaken with the emotion. It can last moments, days, years and even lifetimes. Fear will keep people stuck in places they don’t want to be, with people they don’t want to be with. Often times, individuals fail to realize that fear is deeply rooted in most of the decisions they make, since the only way to discover this is via honest, deep self reflection. Here are some real life examples of fear as a paralyzing force:
Question: Why do I stay in a career I despise?
- The money is good
- I have an easy job / commute / flexibility
- I’m good at it
I’m afraid that if I leave I won’t be able to:
- make this much money doing what I love
- find something better
- succeed in the new job
Question: Why do I stay in a bad relationship?
- I love her
- We’ve been together for so long
- We understand each other / are comfortable together
- We have kids together
I’m afraid that if we break up I won’t be able to
- find someone as good
- deal with being single
- connect with someone else
- be a good parent
As humans, we all experience fear, and anyone who tells you they fear nothing is either failing to understand themselves, or on some very powerful drugs. Boastful machismo types will proclaim their lack of fear because they think it makes them look weak, or beta. In reality, having an awareness of your fear can be your most powerful weapon. The secret is that we should not be ashamed of being afraid; rather, we should use fear to maximize our own potential.
If you’re a fan of the Dark Knight Trilogy, you’ll remember fear being one of the most prominent themes embedded in all three movies. Bruce Wayne create the persona of Batman based on his personal fear of bats, thus using his own demons against his enemies. Sure dressing up like a bat and fighting criminals seems a bit far fetched, making it hard for most people to relate to. However, in the trilogy’s finale, “The Dark Knight Rises”, there is one scene that most people can relate to and, when fully understood, can inspire anyone. Bruce Wayne has been defeated by the villain, Bane, and was thrown in a prison that sits beneath a mountain. The only way out of the prison is to climb the sides of the mountain, make an extremely long jump from one ledge to another, and then complete the climb.
It was revealed that over the years many have attempted the jump, but none have succeeded except for one little girl that was fleeing for her life. Throughout the second half of the movie, Bruce ties a rope to his waist, climbs halfway up, and fails the jump multiple times, always coming up a few inches short. He speaks with an older man that has been imprisoned for quite some time, and is inspired to make the jump the only way that will work; without the rope.
The wise man tells Bruce that without the security of the rope around his waist, “fear will find you”.
Having the rope tied around him ensures that even if he misses the jump, he won’t fall violently to his death. He will survive. Removing the rope removes his security blanket, making death a reality. The fear of dying would push Bruce beyond his limits, giving his body the extra boost needed to make the jump and escape the prison.
In dramatic fashion, with the original score “Why do we fall?” by Hans Zimmer blaring in the background, Bruce removes the rope, makes the jump, and escapes, freeing hundreds of other prisoners from death and despair in the process. This scene may be one of the most inspirational moments in cinematic history, up there with Rocky Balboa knocking out Ivan Drago, and President Whitmore’s speech to the world before the battle against the aliens in Independence Day.
It really tugs at your heartstrings because it shows Batman in a very vulnerable, human moment. We all face that big jump in some moment of our lives. Some don’t attempt it, while others refuse to try it without the rope. Do we allow our security blankets to handicap us in life? Do we surround ourselves in such “safe” environments that we never see our full potential? Do we settle for average just because it’s easier? Most people would answer yes to these questions, because this is how they’ve been conditioned to live. They’d rather be coddled than forced to fight for what they want. They dread the pain they may endure by facing their fears head on.
The need to face fear has been almost completely removed from many people’s lives, so they’re free to go through the motions without ever getting that fear-induced boost they need to reveal their highest level of potential. Do not push fear away. When you feel it creep into your soul, recognize it and embrace it. Know that it will give you the needed boost to overcome even the most insurmountable odds. It will make you stronger. It will force you to evolve. This is your chance to be Batman (or Deadpool).
– Your Big Bro