Unpleasant!!! Unpleasant is used to describe a yukky smell like when you haven’t emptied the compost bin in the kitchen. If I were to write the definition of fear it would read:
Fear: an overwhelming physical and emotional state, verging on rendering the whole body and brain totally and utterly dysfunctional.
Fear leaves me almost paralyzed. Once, when rock climbing, I finally came to understand the meaning of ‘petrified’ as I clung to the rock. I could not move. When learning to kayak on the White Nile, Uganda, I was so overcome with fear, at every rapid I had to jump out and go for a pee. And at our lunch stop, my legs were so jelly-like it took me a while before I could clamber out of my boat.
So how do we forge ahead with our goals, our dreams, our challenges, when fear is lurking ready to paralyse us? How did I stop focussing on the man-eating crocodile lurking in the waters of The Nile, ready to eat me up for lunch?
I named him Henry so he became more of a friend. This was his home and he belonged in the water. While an unusual strategy, it worked. I stopped looking for him at the bottom of every rapid and focussed only on the white water ahead and my paddling. That is the key. Focus on what you are going after not on what you are afraid of.
So have I conquered my fear? … no! I wish. In fact the older I get, the more fearful I have become. Perhaps I have a fuller idea of consequences and risks. So now my challenge to manage fear is even bigger than it was 15 years ago. I still employ the strategy of focussing. That’s a big one for me. I also say to myself “Sandra, you can have a nervous breakdown after we’ve done this but just not right now.” It’s like I’m allowing myself to be afraid but postponing the actual emotions and resulting behaviour until I’m well and truly safe and preferably out of sight of anybody else!
Another technique a friend shared with me is to sing! It does at least mean you have to breathe. The breath oxygenates the blood and the muscles do their thing rather than being paralyzed.
So those are a few strategies I employ when facing nature’s challenges. But what about other fears? Fear of failure? Fear of the unknown?
The first step is to commit. Commit to your project, your change, your dream. Find a way of truly experiencing, even just a little taste, of what your dream offers you. This will help balance out the fear and the reward. The more you get positive feedback on your progress towards your dream, the more the focus is on that rather than the fear.
Be prepared. Upskill if necessary, practice, find a mentor. Put in the work and persevere. Oh, and one other tip, wear red or orange when meeting the challenges that have real potential to make you afraid!
The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear.