Fear seems to be useless. I am not talking about the fear we feel when we are in real danger. I am talking about the one we feel, when we suspect others are judging us, or we are not good enough, or we don’t have enough money to pay the bills. The fear of being attacked walking down a street, might seem reasonable to many, but if you have never experienced it, why would you fear it? If you never experienced a plane crash, or know anyone who was in one, why would you fear flying?
What is this thing we call fear, that with no real evidence or reason, we feel almost every day? It can control us, keep us down, limit us and prevent us from being our best selves.
I have the capacity to imagine things happening, that are neither real or likely. So the first thing I do when I feel fear is always ask myself, is it real ? I could have a lot of cash in my pocket, but if my cupboard is bare, or a bill lies unpaid, fear raises it’s head. The fear of being destitute rises from the fear of not being good enough, or not being able to manage and it seems to be all entwined somehow with feelings of self esteem.
In the last few years I have learned to rationalise with fear. Firstly what other people thing of me, is a) not my business, b) not actually me, and c) their right. This strategy helps me to be less fearful public speaking, or teaching. I do my best, I remind myself of that, and so whatever you think of me, well it’s yours not mine.
A common fear among many people I talk to who swim in open water, is that sharks or crocodiles or monsters of some type are about to attack them in the water. This fear is present in places where there are no such species in existence.? It seems like a useless waste of energy to have this fear swimming in a lake or even the sea.
Recently however I heard something that helped me to understand more clearly why it is we fear. I overheard someone talking who said, ‘Fear is a tool to help me grow.’ Without thinking too much about it, it made perfect sense. The reason I procrastinate, is fear. The reason I am not my better self is fear. If I can face my fear, of open water swimming, of being destitute and take real actions, like pay bills, focus on my stroke in the water, and generally do what has to be done, I feel I am a better stronger person. I like the idea that fear is a teacher, but only if we face it. If we give into our fears, most of which are completely irrational, we can cease to function effectively.? If a situation is such that we cannot change it, what is the point in fearing the outcome, it’s not going to change anything. So my question today is, what are your fears?? How do your fears save you? Do they prompt you to act or to freeze? Can you rationalise them out? Ask yourself how real it is?