Feel The Fear

Entry by: safemouse

1st August 2017
An essay

I really don’t have anything to say about fear, except try to live your life fearlessly. That might seem counter-intuitive, given that fear is apparently a self-defense mechanism, but when you think about it most of what we are afraid of is nothing to be afraid of. A spider can’t hurt us, talking to a stranger should actually be good for us, entering a short story competition is a pretty anonymous activity, should someone give your fledgling effort some tough love. So why should it hurt? These things only hurt us if we give them permission to.

For the most part, we have nothing to fear but fear itself. If you let your fears rule your life so many opportunities will be lost. It will diminish your life and the lives of those around you. Back to the Future is predicated on the idea that life is about key moments but in fact it's about every moment. It's about how much water you put in the kettle, how well you floss your teeth, how nice you were to the broadband complaints department. It all adds up and you have to stay focused on the next step, but you can only really do that if a simple switch inside you is in the correct position.

So find a quiet space somewhere and go inside yourself. Figure out what you are afraid of. You have the power to turn the dial down on that fear. That is the nature of fear. Its tether is purely psychological. There is no horse power, or torque in fear. It is an abstract, invisible thing that must harness your own power and control you by suggestion. But for how long?

There may come a time when staying in one's comfort zone becomes less preferable to going outside it. This could manifest as a soldier who is no longer willing to dodge bullets or duck for cover and finds peace in that unwillingness. A shy virgin who finally starts asking girls out. A nervous commuter who decides to take that dodgy short cut home. And if he's mugged? So what. It will be an experience.

Sadly, by the time you are forced to surrender valuable time has often been lost. But you might ask, how do you strike the right balance, between bravery and masochism? What if that commuter is a woman who doesn't want to be raped? Fear is an evolutionary trait, surely. Fear is there for our benefit, surely.

Your body-your heart-a little voice inside- call it what you will. Something is telling you all the time what it feels comfortable with. What it thinks you should do. And it has your best interests at heart. Often you are avoiding what you think are uncomfortable situations when actually your heart is telling you you'll feel worse if you avoid them. It's like that feeling you have when you have some chore you really need to get out the way and you decide to play on your smartphone instead. That horrible gnawing you get when you procrastinate is you fighting yourself. But you do it all the time in less obvious ways.

I have a copy of 'Feel the fear and do it anyway' on my bookshelf. I skimmed a few pages and thought, 'Yeah, I get the idea. My problem is not theory, but practice.' As is the case with so many self-help books everything you need to know is in the title. You accept the fact that there is going to be a certain amount of discomfort if you are the first to hit the dancefloor but you embrace it because of the rewards it will bring.

I am inspired by the title of that book and have often thought about it. Well, perhaps I will be inpsired, when I act upon it. There is something very powerful about NOT reading a book about overcoming fear because reading is a form of procrastination. People can easily fall in love with ideas and think that they need to read just one more book to learn how to be a better person. But the fact is that well read people are not necessarily the better for it.

Perhaps this writing has some value if you can identify a fear you have today and start to overcome it after reading this.

(Author did not complete their own marking)