Defending Your Life is a movie about what happens to us when we die. Daniel Miller played by Albert Brooks is killed early in the movie and finds himself in a place called Judgment City, where people go to defend their lives before moving onto the next phase. Every person is assigned a lawyer and a panel of judges who sit with the deceased to review the situations in the deceased life where they faced fear and the decision they made whether to conquer that fear or have the fear conquer them. Depending on the life you lived, you may have more situations to defend then others. At the end of the review of one’s life, the judges decide whether the deceased was able to conquer fear or was trapped in a life defined by fear. If a person was able to conquer fear, they move onto the next phase which is believed to be heaven. If a person was unable to conquer their fears they are sent back to Earth where they are able to try again.
This movie is a comedy but brings up a rather serious question; how do you choose to live your life? When faced with a fear, do you face it head on or do you allow that fear to dictate how you live your life? Fear is scary. Fear is uncomfortable. Fear is not having control. Fear is the unknown. Fear is so many things to everyone. It is how you deal with fear that determines how you will live you life. Will you be an active participant in life, calling the shots, taking control of your life’s direction, or will you allow fear to keep you in a place that is “safe”?
What do most people fear? According to ListVerse.com the Top 10 Most Common Fears are as follows:
Failure is an understandable fear but failure is the only way to success. If you don’t try, you won’t fail and if you don’t fail you surely will not succeed. With failure comes growth, strength, and becoming a better version of yourself. Failure is about learning lessons, about challenging yourself, and knowing what you are capable of.
Death. There is no avoiding it. It is the one certainty in life. I would like to borrow a quote from one of my favorite Pearl Jam songs “I am Mine” and the quote is ” I know I was born and I know that I’ll die, in between is mine”. It is time to stop fearing what you know will happen and make the time in between the best that you can make it.
I next would like to lump several fears together because I believe they are all interconnected. We fear rejection because it can lead to ridicule, loneliness, misery, disappointment and pain. But like failure, it you don’t put yourself out there you will never know what is possible. Instead of letting these fears paralyze you, allow these fears to challenge you and make you stronger. You get rejected, so what, get back up and learn from why you were rejected. Learn from the experience instead of being crippled by it. Ridicule is hard but only when you don’t know who you are. When you are strong in who you are, you can see ridicule for what it really is, someone else’s insecurities placed on you. Loneliness is a symptom of fear. When you fear putting yourself out there you are blocking yourself off from all the people that can make a difference in your life and more importantly the difference you can make in theirs. You can chose to live a life that is “safe” , that is free from rejection, pain, etc. but you will never know what it is truly like to love or be loved. Misery is not having what you need to survive. This comes when you block yourself off from possibility. When you live a life of that is “safe” are you truly safe? I believe misery comes when you allow fear to control you and force you into a false sense of “safe”. By blocking yourself off from all that is difficult and scary, you block yourself of from all of the things that combat misery. Misery is fear’s way of keeping you down. We become disappointed when we expect more than we actual receive. The best way to combat disappointment is to be grateful. Have gratitude for what you have and don’t focus on what you don’t. When you have this outlook, you will never be disappointed. Pain is a tough one. Whether that pain is physical or emotional, pain hurts. Pain is a great deterrent to challenging yourself but it is also a great way to see where your boundaries lie and work to push them further and further.
The best way to take control of the unknown is to ask questions. The unknown hates inquiry. The strength in the unknown is the ambiguity, the darkness, the lack of answers, etc. When you ask questions and inquire to what is unknown, the questions shed light on the darkness and the unknown loses it’s power.
Losing your freedom is a very scary and real fear. The best way to not lose your freedom is to stand up for what is right, speak out to what is wrong, know who you are and know what you believe in. Knowing and living your truth is the one sure way to keep your freedom.
I believe all of these fears are legitimate but you choose whether to let these fears control you or you can control them. All of these fears are choices. You choose to fear them because it is easier than taking them on head on. By facing fear you are taking control of your life and saying, I may fail, I may get rejected, I may be ridiculed, feel disappointment or pain but I lived. I lived a life that was filled with challenge, difficulty, adversity, pain, but I also lived a life with love, success, and pride.
Life wasn’t meant to be easy. Life is a constant test to measure who we are as a person. Every decision we make puts us on a path to success or failure. Many like to think that we have no control, when in fact the opposite is true. The most important thing we have control over is ourselves. We control how we see the world, how we feel about what happens to us, how we deal with what happens to us, what we choose to fear and what we choose to do with that fear.
How will you choose to live your life? Will you allow fear to control you or will you control your fears and live a life that needs no defending.