This post comes from a series I wrote as part of a private Tumblr account, way back in 2012. I thought it would be cool to reproduce some of my amateur psychology here 🙂
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” – Dune (Frank Herbert).
Fear is probably the greatest burden, the biggest obstacle and the most powerful force stopping someone reaching their goals and full potential. It can permeate almost everything we attempt, and cripple development. We’re challenged by the “big” fears – death, poverty, illness, loneliness, as well as the smaller, more insidious fears – what do people think of me? Do they talk about me behind my back? Do they laugh at me? Am I any good?
Fear stops you sending that text, telling that person how you feel about them, applying for that job.. we battle with fears of all sizes every day. We wear a towel coming out of the shower, even when we’re home alone… just in case. We’re nervous about answering the phone in the middle of the night, in case it’s bad news. We don’t hear from someone on Facebook for longer than usual and wonder if we’ve done or said something.
Tackling fear is difficult, because it sits at the core of our being and undermines our belief in ourselves. Often, the best approach to take is to use logic. It’s been said that fear stands for False Expectations Appearing Real. Because, if you tally up all of the things in your life that scared you, in the past… how many of them came true? How many times was your fear justified? If you put a percentage value against the number of times you experienced fear versus the outcomes that justified that fear, it’s not a very high percentage is it? And those times that your fears were justified, were the outcomes as terrible as you’d predicted?
Handling fear is about learning to identify fear when it manifests itself, and that can be hard. Your subconscious is good at masking unpleasant thoughts and feelings. You might say (and believe) “I don’t want to go to town with my friends tonight because I’m tired” but the real reason might be “I’m scared of being made to dance when I’m a terrible dancer, and people will laugh at me”
Identifying the actual fear is the first step. Then you need to objectively assess the likelihood of the feared outcome actually occurring. You need to have a plan in place if things do look like they’re heading that way. You need to practise handling fears until you start to realise that fear is for the most part, unfounded. Leave the towel behind next time you exit the bathroom. Tell your friends that you want to go to a quieter bar, or that you’ll buy the next round of drinks while they’re on the dance floor.
You live once, and you have the choice of tackling life head on, including the scary parts, and making the most out of every moment… or playing it safe, avoiding anything new, uncomfortable or scary, and finding the journey through your years was not all that you’d hoped. In the end, our atoms all end up back in the universal pool so we may as well give them a hell of a time while they’re collected together in what we call “me.”