Fear. Or “Why I shouldn’t be let out in public”.

October 19, 2008 at 2:12 pm 2 comments

Fear is kind of a funny thing when you think about it. Its this emotion that causes us to completely freak out, over something that hasn’t even happened. Makes you feel kind of ridiculous when you put it like that, doesn’t it?

Once upon a time, fear protected us. It told us things like “Don’t go into that dark cave. There’s probably a saber tooth tiger living in there, and he is not going to be impressed if you run in there with a pointy stick.” At the time, the fear probably had a good point, and even today, it occasionally does us service. “Hmm, that dark alleyway seems like a bad place to walk down at night alone.” But in modern life, there are far, far fewer things that fear needs to keep us safe from. So it ends up protecting us from things that we don’t need to be protected from. It works really, really hard at keeping us in our nice, safe little comfort zones. It’s also slowly suffocating us there. And sometimes it goes into overdrive.

For example, take this little anecdote, an event that happened to me a couple years ago…

My sister is a very directionally challenged person (she has trouble finding her way out of her room). She needed to walk to her friends house, but didn’t know how to get there, and since I love a good autumn walk, I offered to accompany her.

So there we are, walking along a street, bright sunshine pouring down, and not a soul in sight. Suddenly we hear a skittering behind us, like an animal running quickly towards us. We both screamed and began to run away.

As we were running, I looked behind us. Do you know what it was? A leaf. A wonderfully dry and crunchy leaf, that made skittering noises when the wind blew it along the road.

So there we were, running away from a leaf. Do you need anymore proof that fear is often completely ridiculous?

But the thing is, how do you get past that fear, even if you know its ridiculous?

Sometimes just identifying the fear as irrational can help to overcome it. Its harder to fear the troll in your head if the troll is 3 inches tall. For bigger fears, oftentimes you have to come to terms with the issue beneath it. There’s usually something that triggers the fear, like “What if no one likes me?” or “What if my idea is stupid?”. Feeling a lack of confidence can trigger so much junk that can hold us back. You have to dig deeper into the fears, and see if you can fix the cause. Sometimes fixing the cause might take some therapy, but I believe that its always possible.

So next time you feel that fear welling up, and your mind chattering on about the terrible things that will happen if you take even one step outside of your comfort zone, step back, take a deep breath, and see if there really is anything to fear. You might just find that your running away from a leaf.

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Entry filed under: Fear. Tags: .

How Seth Godin really pissed me off, and then inspired me to change. Fear: She can solve this better than I can.

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. originalpurity  |  October 26, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    I really like the way that you have put that Sarah, running away from a leaf – I will use that tale in my classes 🙂

    Fear is a wonderfully fascinating phenomena, a decent dose of it is healthy a slightly larger dose – paralysing – well not unless its a leaf lol.

    As a personal note – the antidote that I have found useful for fear is to stop thinking – o and that is really hard to do – but if you can master the art of not-thinking then fear has absolutely no grip on you at all – for fear is something that is made up by your mind – and if your mind has stopped making things up – where is the fear?

    In the simplest of cases is/was my fear of spiders. I used to hate having a spider in the house because in my fear I would end up killing it and that would really make me feel bad – I had killed out of fear – and a pretty crappy fear at that.

    Then I heard about this not-thinking lark and had a go – simply put – you really just stop thinking – you focus on nothing – and you know what I can pick up a spider and put it out the house – a big thing for me!

    Care and love, Kal

    Reply
  • 2. This was going to be a happy post. « Sarah’s Blog  |  October 27, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    […] I woke up freaking out. No particular reason why, nothing happened. Just woke up, and was like “Whoa. Jesus. Everything is scary.” Except I know that this is a “Yeah, I’m running away from a leaf” moment. […]

    Reply

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