Fearlessness means living without fear. I’m not referring to your biological fight-or-flight response but rather the irrational fears like fear of failure, fear of rejection, and fear of success. It’s a healthy fear to avoid going head-to-head with a lion. It's an unhealthy fear to be afraid to speak publicly.
Fear has become such an integral part of our society that we’re expected to be afraid. We hear it all the time. Racism is out there, so be afraid of it. Starting a new business is too risky. Some people feel it isn’t even safe to go outside their homes. Yet the real danger in these situations is minuscule. Yet we are conditioned to be afraid.
Fearlessness isn’t the same as courage. With courage you face your fears, and that’s a potent skill in its own right. But with fearlessness you never experience the emotional reaction of fear in the first place.
Being afraid or nervous in situations where there’s no real danger simply isn’t intelligent, it's counter productive, and it keeps us from doing the things that will take us to a new level. Yet most people go through their whole lives avoiding situations because of irrational fear. We’re socially conditioned to believe it’s normal and natural to be afraid in such situations. But there’s nothing natural and normal about it at all. It’s common, but it isn’t our natural state to be afraid. Children tend to be a lot more fearless than adults – we learn to be afraid as we grow up. Why? Because we’re taught a model of the universe which, if we believe it, will induce fear automatically. Dump that model and you dump irrational fear along with it. It’s well and good to learn that we should look both ways before crossing the street. But it’s just dumb to be conditioned to fear racism, or start a new business, or reaching for your dreams no matter what anyone says. We might not have had a say when we initially accepted that conditioning as rational, but we have a say now.
The solution to irrational fear isn’t to adopt positive thinking and try to overwrite the fear with affirmations. That’s just dumb. The real solution is to turn on our wonderful brains and dive more deeply into our fears in order to really understand them. Underlying irrational fears are irrational assumptions about reality. Once we can see this clearly, it’s natural and normal to simply drop those irrational assumptions altogether. So the big problem with fear is that it’s based on an inaccurate model of reality. If we could perceive reality accurately, we would be much less afraid. So I’m saying that if public speaking makes you nervous, it’s because you don’t perceive reality accurately enough to really believe at a deep enough level that there’s nothing at all to be afraid of.