Fear: An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
We all have them, whether it is spiders, flying or heights. If we did not have fear we would live in a permanent state of danger. Fear can stop us from running across a busy road or sticking our hand into a burning fire yet mentally we often ignore our fears and drive headlong into an emotional crash. For example, very often at the Gym, GymGuyMark will ask me to lift a certain weight; it feels too heavy but my mental strength overcomes that and I try my best. It might get to about the 9th rep out 12 and my arms start to hurt and make weird noises. Both GGM and I know there is nothing wrong but that wee fear in my head starts to question it and all of a sudden your arms feel weaker, your mental strength goes and you struggle to complete the set. I remember when I first started going to the Western Health and Racquets Club Gym; my big fear was looking stupid, looking out-of-place and being so unfit that I did nothing but wobble through every exercise. Those fears were soon set aside for two reasons, one I have a great PT in GGM and two because I started to believe in my own abilities, face those stupid fears and realise that the only person who was looking at me as me!
But what happens when you decided to face a fear that you thought you had conquered and it undermines all of that? Fear is such a strong emotion in all walks of life, you may have a fear of heights so is that going to stop you taking your dream job on the 15th floor of a building? You may have a fear of getting hurt in a relationship so is that going to stop you diving back into the dating pool again? It is back to the respect your fear or take a chance debate, which side of the house do you vote with?
I overheard a conversation between two well-educated business women the other day. I was sitting behind them in one of the West End’s coffee shops and one woman said to the other “I can’t believe he turned out to be married, I told you that always happens to me, I am never dating again.”. Her friend replied “same here, where on earth is my handsome prince who should be out there, he needs to come rescue me from and take care of me. I am fed up coping with life by myself”. They were being deadly serious, I sat there waiting for the giggle or the hint of sarcasm on their voices but it never came. The conversation carried on in that vein and basically there two women were frightened, they were frightened to get themselves back out there but instead of facing their fear they had decided that Prince Charming would have to come find them. I think that is sad. Not sad as in teen speak but sad as in if you lock yourself away what will you miss? Yes, we all make stupid mistakes, we date the wrong guy and get hurt, we lift a heavy weight or ran that bit further and tire ourselves out but we heal, we recover and we get onto our own white horse, grab our sword and ride off to fight that fear, conquer it and move on to happy every after or as I like to call it content for now.
When children do something silly, adults will say “well you won’t do that again” but as adults we sit down and rationalise out or reason for touching the burning flame. We will make the argument for why we did what we did instead of just holding up our hands and saying “I was an idiot”. So is the answer to facing our fears to face them? Learn from them? Perhaps it is like a the child who tries to climb the stairs and falls over and over again, perhaps we need to do face it more than once to get it into our heads what we don’t do the next time and remember that fear is often not of the thing itself but of the circumstance surrounding it.
So the next time fear raises its ugly head, instead of heading towards it to fight it off, take a minute just to think it out and think what am I actually frightened of? The fear itself? Or the fear of trying and, in our own eyes not succeeding? And remember that forgiving yourself is important, there are other days other chances, do not be afraid to take them.
We will keep doing “stupid” things why? One of my favourite quotes says it all really “The thinner the ice, the more anxious is everyone to see whether it will bear.” Josh Billings … we are human, we learn from every bit of thin ice we fall through no matter how bad the bruise!