My heartbeat rose as I stood silently in position on the movie sound stage of Captain America: First Avenger starring Chris Evans. I watched lighting technicians and cameramen make slight adjustments and I felt the wiremen secure the cables attached to my back. Sweat formed on my brow. Having captured Captain America with my flame-thrower in a previous scene, my character was to kill off his best friend “Bucky,” played by Sebastian Stan. This would all take place on board a moving train no less. I was to fire at “Bucky” and blow a hole in the side of the carriage. He would hang on briefly before falling to his death. Ultimately, an angry Captain America would retaliate and take me out with his iconic shield.
Thanks to the magic of Hollywood my demise was going to be dramatic -the wire connected to my back and a high-pressure gas cylinder would cause me to fly backwards 20ft through the air until I hit the end of the train carriage. Let me explain, this is no mean feat – I was wearing a costume that weighed almost the same as my body weight!
Now, let’s go back to me standing on the sound stage before any of this happened and I was thrust backwards down the train carriage and into an unforgiving wall. As you can imagine in that moment my heart was racing. And just because I am the author of a book entitled The Fearless Path, it doesn’t mean I wasn’t experiencing any fear – far from it.
I feel fear exactly as you do. I’m certainly no daredevil, despite what you might expect of a member of The Hollywood Stuntmen’s Hall of Fame! Nor am I an “adrenaline junkie,” despite the Guinness World Records I hold. I’m careful. I a methodical and accurate in what I do, which is why I believe I have never broken a bone in my 21-year career.
What has helped me immensely is the understanding the psychology of fear. I have learned that fear is caused by two conflicting thought patterns in the mind; one in the conscious mind, and one in the sub-conscious mind. I’m not speaking of that ancient knee-jerk fear of snakes or spiders located at the back of our brains--those fight or flight fears are there for a good reason. I mean the fears that hold us back in life. The fear of things that might happen and what people would think if they did.
I have learned that our thoughts are vibrational and that thought waves are energetic. There is a link between our thoughts, our feelings, and the world we perceive around us. Indeed, there is definite universal connection between the thoughts and feelings we transmit on a regular basis and the life experience that’s reflected back to us as a result. That’s why some people appear “lucky,” with everything going right for them, while other people seem “cursed,” having one bad experience after another.
The truth is that the “lucky” person thinks and feels positively for the most part and therefore attracts positive circumstances into their life. The “cursed” person, on the other hand, thinks and feels negatively so they attract more and more negative experiences into their life.
So where does fear fit in? How can understanding fear help you to break free of any limiting belief systems in your life and push through to success?
Well, we’re back to vibration again.
Let us imagine that our mind is an iceberg. The conscious mind (the thoughts you are aware of) is like the part of the iceberg above water. The sub-conscious mind (the thoughts you’re not aware of, which is more like programming based on a lifetime of what you’ve seen and heard, starting way back in childhood) is the iceberg below the surface, the massive powerful majority of the mind.
Once a thought is locked in our subconscious mind, it oscillates at a certain frequency.
Imagine you are subconsciously holding a “low income” thought in your subconscious mind. I guarantee as sure as night follows day that you would be living a low-income life as a result. No matter how hard you’d try to improve your income, it would never work out.
So imagine you earn $30K per year but dream of earning $300K each year instead.
The conscious high-income thought has a much higher frequency that the sub-conscious thoughts delivering your $30K salary. The difference between these two conflicting frequencies is a cognitive dissonance I call the “Wobble Zone”. This is raw fear.
Our $30K dreamer, wanting to make $300K starts to hear inner dialogue.
“What if I set up this new business and it fails? People will laugh at me.”
“What if I invest my savings and it goes wrong? I’ll have less money than when I started.”
These thoughts and feelings grow in strength and are persistent. You can try and bottle them away, but they aren’t going anywhere.
Soon, the inner dialogue kindly offers a solution.
“Why do I even need $300,000? I don’t even need that much. My life isn’t all that bad after all.”
“If I stick with what I’m doing now, I can use my savings on a nice vacation in the future. Why
would I risk that on a hair-brained scheme?”
Let me tell you right now that the Wobble Zone is an uncomfortable place to be. For most, the fastest, easiest way to leave this zone is to go right back to what they were doing before. The worry stops, the fear dissipates, and they continue on with their mediocre life. “Phew, that was close!”
They gave up. The Wobble Zone was not for them. Like the gold-rush miners who dug for years in search of gold, and gave up just 2ft from the gold seam that would have made them rich, so the majority of people let fear keep them a prisoner in a life they settle for, rather than one they desire.
I’m here to tell you that fear is largely caused by a difference in frequency between two ways of thinking. I’m telling you that it is possible to remain steadfast and upgrade your mindset, and upon doing so, your life will change forever.
When your subconscious mind eventually accepts the new programming for a better life, the fear disappears. Your mind creates the feelings that encourage the actions that take advantage of the situations delivered to your door. The brain itself rewires its filters to hide from you the things that are unhelpful in your quest, drawing your attention to all of the things you need to succeed. All that remains is to take action.
Back to me, waiting before the high-pressure gas cylinder.
As the set cleared, I finally heard those words: “And, turn over.... we’re at speed.” I leaned forward to put tension on the rope. “Action!” Before me appeared Captain America who angrily threw his shield at me. A nanosecond later, a couple of hundred pounds of pressure tore me from my feet, hurtling me backwards down the length of the train carriage. I hit the wall hard and landed in a heap on the ground, my Hydra-Guard helmet slipping over my eyes. “And, cut! Curtis, you okay?”
I was perfectly fine. Not a mark on me. Had I allowed fear to dominate my thoughts and feelings, I’d have never clipped onto that cable to perform the stunt. Indeed, I would never have fulfilled my childhood ambition of becoming a stuntman in the first place, nor subsequently led a charmed life by design.
I’m going to suggest to you that you start to look at your life, and be honest with yourself, and ask if every area of your life is as you want it to be. Not how the media tells you it should be, not as your family or friends think it should be, but as you in your own heart feel it should be. If you are not happy with it then know this--you can change it. There is a way to change your thinking, to navigate the resulting fears, and to go on to live your perfect life. It all starts with the decision to do so. Your future life is entirely in your hands--why not make it a fabulous one?
Curtis Rivers uses his expertise with goal achievement and fear management to deliver powerful presentations. During his 20 years as a top Hollywood movie stuntman, received a Screen Actors Guild award, gained prestigious inclusion into The Hollywood Stuntman’s Hall of Fame, and broke two Guinness World Records. Curtis lives in Manchester, England.
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