Embracing Fear

Fear Makes Us Raw and RealIn a recent discussion and reading of a great blog post on fear, there were some concepts I wanted to explore further here. As an aside, I discovered his blog a ways back randomly Google-ing myself (since we share the same name), and have since had the opportunity to have some interesting chats.

As someone who is both quirky and verbose with those close to me but shy in other settings, the desire to overcome social fears is a topic I know well. I’ve often felt torn between two personality types, fantasizing what it would be like to be more like Patrick Jane from The Mentalist or anybody who has a strong public personality and acts and speaks without any real filters other than personal morality. It seemed like it’d be tremendously liberating. “Think of how easy things could be,” you might say wistfully to yourself.

The other side to this coin is that the less challenging something is the less rewarding engaging in that action can often become. A man who is told he’ll never walk again and ends up running in a marathon feels a tremendous sense of accomplishment, whereas an Olympic runner jogging the first quarter mile feels nothing except the familiarity of routine.

I am reminded of the saying, “Courage is not being fearless; it’s being afraid and doing it anyway.”

We’re at our purest when we feel that exhilarating sense of fear, like if you’ve always wanted to sky dive and get up in that plane and look out the window just before the jump. A strong sense of “never mind — I can’t do this” might come over you. The difference will be in whether you end up saying never mind or jump anyway, and that exhilaration will make doing it everything it is to you. Think of how different that would be if you weren’t afraid at all. You get up above the clouds and feel nothing, and while the jump might be cool the most you might say about it afterward was that it was a nice view.

Put simply, you might say that in many cases the more reluctant we are to do something the more we have to learn/gain from it. There are obvious limits to that of course, staying within the limits of general morality.

Thoughts?

  2 comments for “Embracing Fear

  1. Marty Watkins
    November 14, 2012 at 5:56 am

    My fear comes from uncertainty. If someone asks me a question about something, especially at work, work related, I get a sudden case of fear in that I don’t know the answer right off, or someone else will hear me fumble through trying to figure out the answer. Especially if that someone knows all the answers and wants to be in control of everything.
    Or the fear that is I’m on a Farris wheel, that the wheel will come off just because I’m on it. Or that because I’m leaning over the railing of a very tall building, that my little weight will cause the building to fall over.
    Then there is the fear of being in a crowd of people and not having anything interesting or useful to say in conversations. So I dummy up, like the saying goes…”If you don’t have anything useful to say, then don’t say anything at all.” Or the saying…”best to say nothing and let people think your an idiot, then to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
    Yes, It would be awesome to be so out going and confident in ones self. But I can’t help but wonder how/what people like that think or feel about themselves. so they feel that it is their duty to be “all knowing? “all confident all the time”? Is it a pressure that they put on themselves?
    As I get older, I find myself caring less and less about what others think of me. I’m trying to learn to love myself for what & who I am. I am me, good or bad. I’ll just be damned of I can figure out what it is abut me that seems to “scare” people away. Maybe it’s because I’m not out going, or maybe because I come across sounding like I’m in desperate need of friendship? Or I’ve opened my mouth before and said something that offended them.
    I might not ever know or find out as people won’t tell you what they think of you for fear they might hurt your feelings. But each time you’ve opened up and told me bluntly about things, it might have hurt a little at first, but then I’ve learned from it. It’s opened my eyes to things. Things I hadn’t seen or thought about previously. so see, some good can come of it if one will allow themselves to look at the criticism openly.

    Sorry for not staying on topic…my bad.

    • Brian Watkins
      November 19, 2012 at 1:14 pm

      That’s a legitimate challenge a lot of us face. What’s become very clear to me, particularly in the last year as we’ve met so many new people, is that it’s of little value to meter or filter yourself so heavily for fear of not being taken seriously. If the filtering leads to cleverer answers, fine, but for most of us our filtering leads to silence or boring answers, and then ironically our efforts to seem more interesting make us far less so.

      Put simply, we may try and fail to impress someone, but as Wayne Gretzky said we miss 100% of the shots we don’t take. 100% of the jokes we don’t tell aren’t funny. Following this advice is a work in progress for me, but the potency of its wisdom is more apparent to me lately than it’s ever been.

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