Fear is the Liar

I found it a treat to momentarily peek into the lives of four legendary thespians. At one point the subject of fear came up. Judi Dench admitted, “I still feel quite anxious when I have to act in a film.” I was stunned! Here one of the world’s finest actresses, who has often been chosen to play the Queen of England, and exudes utter confidence in her roles, now 85 years of age, is still plagued by fear! To my further surprise, her peers, also among the most respected actresses in the world, confessed that they, too, are camera shy.

This shocking revelation confirmed to me a phenomenon I see in many successful professionals: Even while the voice of fear pursues us, we can go on to create huge success. That voice often disguises itself as “fraud guilt”—the idea that “I am a phony and if people knew the truth about me, they would not pay me, like me, or want me.” A survey of top Hollywood movie studio CEO’s asked, “What do you fear most?” The most common answer was, “I am afraid that people will find out I don’t really know what I am doing.” Meanwhile these execs were turning our fabulous movies, earning many millions of dollars for their studios.

Success is not the liar. Fear is.

Don Juan, the mentor in Carlos Castaneda’s classic series of books of conversations with his Yaqui shaman teacher, told Castaneda, “Fear never really goes away. It sits on your shoulder and whispers in your ear, trying to frighten and belittle you. The spiritual warrior hears the voice of fear, but does not give in to it.”

Phil Alden Robinson, writer and director of one of my favorite films, Field of Dreams, recounts that during filming, “Every night I went back to my room and thought I had failed.” Meanwhile Robinson was turning out a blockbuster film that was nominated for three Academy Awards and has become a cinematic classic.

A Course in Miracles tells us that there are only two voices we might listen to: love and fear. We all have a fear voice that chides us with all kinds of threats. At some point we must stop running from the fear voice and confront it. The question is not, “Does fear taunt you?” The question is, “Are you willing to move ahead anyway?” My mentor Hilda Charlton used to say, “The dogs bark, and the caravan moves on.”

The deepest purpose of our life is to rip the mask off of fear to reveal the love it hides. We must cease to live as if we are small, and claim our authentic magnificence. Even while scary newscasts and prophecies bite at our heels, we must move on.

At the height of the Beatles’ illustrious career, Ringo Starr decided he wasn’t fit to be in a band as talented as the Beatles. He went to John Lennon and told him, “I’m leaving the group because I’m not playing well and I feel unloved and out of it, and you three are really close.” John replied, “I thought it was you three!” Then Ringo told Paul McCartney he felt like an outsider. Paul replied, “I thought it was you three!” Ringo didn’t bother going to George Harrison, who might have given a similar reply. The idea that any of these four—Ringo, John, Paul, or George—was not a “real” Beatle seems laughable and ludicrous, since each of those musicians was talented in his own way, and their unique synergy made the Beatles the most successful entertainers in history. But each of them had to face and deal with his own demons. If even the Beatles suffered fraud guilt, you can see what a liar that voice is, and why you should give it no credence and not let it stop you on your own path to success.

Much of our training has told us that fear is real and love is the illusion. It’s really the other way around.

 

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