5 Ways to Confront Reality & Face Your Fears

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The 50th Law" by 50 Cent and Robert Greene. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Why is it important to confront reality? How does confronting your reality help you live a better, happier life?

According to Curtis Jackson (50 Cent) and Robert Greene, it’s important to confront reality when we feel like avoiding our problems because it helps us to gain an acute awareness of our circumstances. Gaining this acute awareness, they argue, is the secret to improving your future and leading a more fulfilling life.

Read on to learn five ways to confront reality, according to Jackson and Greene’s advice.

The Importance of Confronting Reality

In their book, The 50th Law, authors Curtis Jackson and Robert Greene argue that to achieve fearlessness, you must confront reality and become acutely aware of your circumstances, no matter how painful they are. Many people struggle to follow this rule because they want to avoid the anxiety and fear that arises when thinking of unpleasant facts. Consequently, they won’t confront the harsh reality of their circumstances. As a result, these people have an inaccurate or incomplete view of reality that leaves them powerless to make the changes they desire in life. 

On the other hand, if you confront the reality of the factors shaping your circumstances, it will allow you to achieve ultimate power over them. Confronting reality requires you to look at the internal and external factors that have shaped your circumstances—your mindset and fears—as well as external elements like the people around you. Once you understand how these factors are shaping your reality, you can identify opportunities to manipulate them and change your future.

Don’t Just Confront Reality—Take Responsibility, Too

In The 10X Rule, Grant Cardone argues that the key to achieving success is not only to become aware of your circumstances (as Greene and Jackson recommend) but also to take full responsibility for them. He explains that many people are aware of the factors shaping their circumstances but are unable to change because they have a victim mindset—they believe that their bad luck is always the result of external factors that they can’t control. 

In many ways, this mentality is also rooted in the fear of reality: People with victim mindsets may fear confronting their own role in their troubles and, by extension, their flaws. However, the only way to escape this mindset and change is to take responsibility for your life and choices. To do this, identify how your own actions have shaped your situation and decide what you can do differently to avoid similar situations in the future.

Jackson and Greene present five ways to help you confront reality and make the best of your circumstances.

#1: Be Opportunistic

When you confront reality, it’s important to be opportunistic and remember that events aren’t objectively good or bad—they are what you make of them—argue Jackson and Greene. A seemingly negative event could become a positive turning point in your life if you’re opportunistic and take advantage of the circumstances. For example, if someone is spreading rumors about you at work, you could use the attention to show everyone in the office how upstanding you are. In the end, you’ll gain the respect of everyone in the office and get a promotion from your boss. 

(Shortform note: In The Power, Rhonda Byrne agrees that situations are what we make of them. She elaborates that when we interpret an event negatively, we emit a negative frequency into the universe that attracts more negativity back to us. If we’re opportunistic and interpret the event positively (by looking for a way it can benefit us), we’ll emit a positive frequency that will attract more positivity back to us. If you’re regularly interpreting situations negatively, Byrne argues that it’s because you lack love in your heart. In this situation, seek out ways to change your mindset by doing things that evoke positivity, like spending time with loved ones.)

#2: Maintain Your Curiosity

The authors note that one of the biggest issues preventing us from confronting the reality of a situation is believing we already know everything about it. If you naturally assume that you don’t know everything and stay curious, you’ll be guaranteed to discover more than you would have otherwise.

(Shortform note: In The Power of Discipline, Daniel Walter explains that the belief that we know everything is linked to a common cognitive bias called the Dunning-Kruger effect, which is our tendency to overestimate our abilities (or knowledge) when we lack expertise in an area. This stunts our growth as we falsely believe that we’re already competent, so there’s no need to try to improve. To avoid this bias—and, in turn, maintain your curiosity and desire to learn—Walter recommends seeking feedback from others who can give you a realistic perspective on your strengths and weaknesses.)

#3: Gain Awareness of All the Perspectives Surrounding a Situation

According to the authors, if you’re only seeing something from your perspective, you’re likely to miss things—so, consider how others might view the situation, and look for any hidden factors contributing to it. Not only will you gain a better understanding of why things are the way they are, but you’ll also be able to anticipate how shifts in certain factors could alter the circumstances. With this foresight, you can take advantage of these factors and change them to get what you want before others even notice what’s happening.

(Shortform note: While Jackson and Greene recommend trying to see all the factors and perspectives involved in a situation when you confront your reality, they don’t provide much advice on how to cultivate the ability to do so. Experts explain that watching TV shows, watching movies, and reading fiction are all great ways to develop this skill. Observing how and why fictional characters think and feel in certain ways will give you better insight into how different people might think and feel in the real world. Further, analyzing all the factors that contribute to fictional situations, such as the downfall of a fictional business empire, can arguably improve your awareness of possibly hidden factors impacting your real-life circumstances.)

#4: Look for the Root of the Problem

If you’ve followed Principle #3, you’ll have a firm grasp of all the factors contributing to a circumstance. However, Jackson and Greene argue that this awareness isn’t enough—all of these factors are usually connected to one underlying factor that’s the root cause of the situation. Knowing the root cause will give you more power to change your circumstances and a heightened ability to anticipate changes.

Use the “Five Whys” to Get to the Root of the Problem

In Principles: Life and Work, Ray Dalio recommends using the “five whys” technique to identify the root cause of a problem. This process involves progressively uncovering why each unfortunate event that ultimately led to the overall issue occurred. To use this technique, first, ask yourself why things didn’t go as planned. Then, ask yourself why your answer occurred, and repeat the process three more times. 

For example, your overarching issue is that you were penalized for being late to work. First, ask why you were late to work—because you slept through your alarm. Second, ask why you slept through your alarm—because you went to sleep late last night. Third, ask why you went to sleep late—because you didn’t finish your work during your regular hours. Fourth, ask why you didn’t finish your work—because your boss piled on extra work at the last minute without adjusting your deadline. Fifth, ask why your boss piled on work without adjusting your deadline—probably because she didn’t realize how much work you already had on your plate.

Ultimately, the root of this issue is your boss having unrealistic expectations of you because she isn’t aware of your day-to-day workload and schedule. 

#5: Judge People by Their Actions Instead of Their Words

According to Jackson and Greene, what people say doesn’t always align with their underlying motives. This can be problematic if someone intends to act against your best interests but manipulates you to think they’ll do otherwise. When the authors explain how to confront reality and gain the most realistic idea of who a person is and what they truly want, they argue that you should focus on their actions and who they really are, rather than on their words and who they want you to think they are.

(Shortform note: Jackson and Greene suggest that you should judge people based on their behaviors because actions speak louder than words. However, people’s actions might not always accurately reflect their beliefs and desires. Experts explain that people often act against who they truly are, what they truly think, or what they truly want due to underlying issues like internal conflict and past trauma. If someone starts acting in a way that you wouldn’t expect, a compassionate response might be to check in with them and see if they’re okay rather than making an immediate character judgment.)

5 Ways to Confront Reality & Face Your Fears

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Emily Kitazawa

Emily found her love of reading and writing at a young age, learning to enjoy these activities thanks to being taught them by her mom—Goodnight Moon will forever be a favorite. As a young adult, Emily graduated with her English degree, specializing in Creative Writing and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), from the University of Central Florida. She later earned her master’s degree in Higher Education from Pennsylvania State University. Emily loves reading fiction, especially modern Japanese, historical, crime, and philosophical fiction. Her personal writing is inspired by observations of people and nature.

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