What is fear?
Fear is the perceived pain of a possible future. Fear is a very powerful emotion with a very simple and important function.
The purpose of fear is survival and nothing else. In our hunter-gatherer days, fear in the face of danger (these were actual life threatening situations like a vicious predator on the prowl) heightened our sensitivity, energy levels and abilities for a short duration to survive the danger. And then the fear went away.
But nowadays fear has devolved into a general anxiety and attached itself to everyday situations which are laughable in comparison to the original dangerous situations which required the edge provided by fear for survival. Now we are afraid of things like public speaking where the worst possible outcome is the audience booing you.
That is nothing in comparison to imminent death.
A similar concept is nervousness, which needs its own post, but I’ll touch on it here. Nervousness is a phenomenon where you don’t know what to do. You have this built up energy in you from the excitement or the fear and you don’t know where to direct it. You may know what to do on an intellectual level but you have not actually done the thing before. So it is all in the head and not in the body. It takes practice to know it in the body and when that happens, then you won’t be nervous anymore.
Should you be fearless?
No, you should not and you don’t need to be. Moreover, you can’t be. You can’t rid yourself of all fear. But you can use your own fear as a guidance mechanism. In most of the cases, your fear will show you the thing that you must do (with obvious exceptions). Beyond every fear is the person you have to become, that is how you grow.
How do you deal with fear?
I give this advice from personal experience; I have not read any books on the subject. The next time you face a situation where you start to feel fear, imagine the
worst possible outcome and accept it. Accept that it may happen. Then accept that you’ll be okay. You’ll still be breathing on the other side and if you’re still
breathing then you can manage. Trust in your abilities to handle yourself will help you sail through the situation.
Let the situation show you your own strength.
This was the intellectual part. Then comes the other part. Action. Go do the thing. I don’t care if someone has to push you to do it or if you can make yourself do it on your own; just go do it. With repetition, you’ll desensitize yourself to the pain and the fear will go away.
Imagine this if you live in a city. You cross busy roads every day. This could actually be life threatening. A car may run you over. But are you afraid to cross roads? I don’t know about you, but I’m not afraid of doing that one single bit. Why? Because I have been doing it so long, I am completely desensitized to it now. You can apply the same principal to any activity you fear.
Emerson’s quote will be of help here.
“Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”
I’ll leave you with this.
Accept the fear, trust your undiscovered strength and do the thing.
Till next time,