Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

Why You Should Be Afraid of Your Story

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What keeps you from living the story you want? What keeps you from doing a difficult work that matters?

Is it fear?

I read an article on the internet last month about fear. The point was simple. Fear keeps us from living better stories. I certainly agree.

The author went on then to offer the obvious remedy. Stop being afraid.

But I would tell you something different about what to do with your fear.

photo by Jonastas Cunha (creative commons)

Stop Being Afraid

I’m afraid of snakes. I was out of town recently and my wife sent me a text saying there was a snake in the house. I was thousands of miles away and I felt a shiver down my spine. That sensation was fear.

There are some things we should consider no longer being afraid of.

  • Does the fear of flying keep you from taking your dream trip to Europe?
  • Does the fear of Montezuma’s revenge keep you from going on a mission trip to Central America?
  • Does the fear of failure keep you from starting your own business?

Many of our fears are irrational. They make no sense, and we need to tell the fear to get lost.

Sometimes we have to get over ourselves and grab the snake by the tail and put it in a box.

Be Afraid

Some stories are about traveling. Some stories are about risky business ventures. Some are about snake handling.

But some stories, and I would argue truly better stories, are about living a life of sacrifice.

When we choose to give of ourselves, it becomes painful. Sacrifice takes our time. Sacrifice takes our money. Sacrifice may even take our lives.

Sacrifice is something that any normal person should be afraid of.

The more incredible your story is, the more it will demand of you. The greater the sacrifice, the more it will cost.

When you choose a life of sacrifice for the good of others, it will hurt. And you will be very afraid. Every single day.

Incredible sacrifice produces a fear so intense, that I do no think you can stop it.

Even Jesus was afraid.

What Will You Do?

Instead of shoving your fear aside, I think you need to embrace it for what it is. Anything else would be lying to yourself.

Your story doesn’t depend on whether or not you stop being afraid of what it might cost. In fact I hope you are considering doing something that makes you very afraid. Something that makes you stop and reconsider. Something that scares the living day lights out of you. Something that forces to ask yourself repeatedly, “What if?”

The issue isn’t fear, but what you choose to do in spite of it. The decision you make when you feel the fear.

Do you proceed or do you turn back? Will you take the next step or will you give up?

Better stories are born when you take a step forward despite your greatest fears. (Tweet that.)

And I believe that the only way you can begin when you are deathly afraid is when the story truly matters.

So, what are you afraid of?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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18 Replies

  1. DDF

    Jeremy, well said. Well said! May God give us all courage to “Fear not” even as we push ahead, trembling as we go.

    And by the way, I’ve signed you up for the big python hunt in the Florida Everglades. Seen here this morning: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/24/us/florida-mounts-a-hunt-for-creatures-that-maintain-a-very-low-profile.html?hp :) :)

    1. I like the idea of killing the snake.

  2. Fear of rejection and failure is typically what haunts people. For me, I hate surprises and the unknown – so that typically paralyzes me – and prevents me from making snap decisions, or take risks.

    I am motivated by believing that what I have to share matters, and can impact the lives of others for good. Thanks for the encouragement and admonishment.

    1. I believe what you have to share matters because I believe you matter.

      1. Thanks for the affirmation Jeremy. We were definitely created in an image…

  3. Kandace

    Great thoughts that answered some of my unspoken questions. Can you expound on “Even Jesus was afraid?” I think I know where you were going with this but it’s a bold, vague statement with risky implications.

    1. I had the garden of gethsemane in mind. Nothing else. It is easy to over analyze anything Jesus said. But the feeling I get as I read his words fully knowing what was going to happen to him is a fear of the pain. But he stepped forward.

  4. Ha, I can certainly relate to the shiver of fear about snakes even when you’re miles away…not a fan of them, either.

    Right now, I’m fearful that my eBook is going to do poorly. I really worked hard on it because it’s a prequel to my full length novel. But, nobody seems to be picking it up or rating on Amazon, so I’m scared it’s not going to do well and will nix any hopes I had of actually publishing the full novel.

    1. Is there something you can do to help the eBook do better? If the eBook doesn’t do well, is that really a reason not to write the novel?

      1. Well, I’ve already written the novel…just afraid an agent or publisher will look at the lack of success in the Prequel and use it as rationale to not acquire my novel. I am going to try and find some more guest post spots…I think that’s the best thing I can do for it.

        1. Have you gotten any editing help?

          1. Yes, I had someone edit it…and my novel. Need to work on my promoting a little bit better I think.

    1. Are you afraid of “Yes!” or are you just excited?

  5. I agree, Jeremy. I use fear as a gauge whether or not I should do something. The more fear I feel, the more it needs to be done. Right now I’m nervous about heading home for my grandfather’s funeral because right now, the whole situation doesn’t feel real. I’m terrified that this loss is going to hit me brutally once I fly home and feel the empty space he left behind. I booked my flight yesterday even though it was the last thing I wanted to do.

    1. I’m sorry about your grandfather.

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