Fear is a liar.
I was talking with some friends of mine today and they asked me about the line “Fear is a liar” from my new book, The Hill, and what I meant by it. This is familiar ground for people to pick an argument with me as people tend to dismiss my thoughts on fear due to my Special Forces background.
I took a second to make sure they weren’t setting me up for a trap or an argument but then I recovered and told them: it’s true. Fear is a liar and we all suffer from it’s lies.
Special Operators are no different from anyone and feel fear. Any special operator (no matter the branch) who tells you they were never scared is lying to you. Period. End of story.
There’s no magic trick we learn in training that makes us resistant to fear. It’s the opposite. We learn ways to deal with fear, compartmentalize it, and then move on and do what we have to do DESPITE THE FEAR. We learn to accept it for what it is. But I’ll get back to that in a second.
Since this is an article, not a full psychological discussion, I wont be talking about depression and the thousands of other specialty illnesses that hurt our future — today I’m talking about FEAR.
Let’s start with when we are unafraid. When we’re unafraid, we never allow absolute thoughts to rule our world. We know we can drive to the store without dying. We know the plane won’t crash just because we are on it. We know we can cut a steak without cutting ourself.
But when we are afraid we tend to start thinking only in absolutes and worst case scenarios. There is no “what if” there is no “maybe” — there is only a certainty that whatever it is we are fearful of WILL OCCUR. Guaranteed.
You aren’t enjoying a new activity outdoors — you are going to die when the equipment fails and you get lost.
You don’t have a potential financial opportunity — you are going to quickly and violently go bankrupt (and be unable to feed your family).
You know that squeak in the living room at midnight is a sword wielding ninja waiting to attack you.
Your idea can’t be told to anyone at work — as soon as she hears it your boss will fire you.
You can’t trust your partner, your staff, your coworkers, your friends — you know they will fail you.
Despite the statistics you know the plane is going to crash in a large body of water (even though you aren’t flying over water).
These thoughts are all based in fear. But, when we’re unafraid and planning we tend to think like this: “Oh, that’ll never happen.” “But — I’ve got this….” Etc.
Think of it like this: what if your Uncle Buck came to your house and treated you like fear does. Would you allow it? Would you allow him to sway you from doing the things you normally do?
“Scott — don’t light the barbecue — it’ll explode and you will die leaving your wife a widow and your kids orphans.”
“Scott — don’t drive to the store, an 18 wheeler will plow into you and leave you paralyzed.”
“Scott — put that steak knife down, it’s sharp!”
Of course you wouldn’t. You know living in fear in ridiculous. You’d never get anything done.
Thats why I tell people fear is a liar. Not only is it a liar — it’s a thief. If you allow it to — fear will steal your future from you. Life is meant to be lived. Get out and start living yours.