So I’ve come up with my own definition of fear. Get ready! This is some profound stuff here (someone get your pen out and quote this because it’s for the books)!
Fear is a lack of knowledge on how to deal with uncomfortable situations whether they make you feel worried, afraid, sad, lost, alone, depressed, worthless, or any other negative feeling (this also pertains to healthy fear). Fear’s only job is to stop you in your footsteps. It’s YOUR job to figure out how to walk through it.
I’ll give you an example. I’m training for an Ironman. Let me rephrase that, I’ve been training for an Ironman for going on two years (maybe more) now. In 2015, I said that I would do an Ironman in the fall. Fall came, I didn’t do it. 2016 WILL BE THE YEAR! Nope, only one triathlon the whole year. Well now it’s 2017 and there is NO WAY I am missing it!
Why am I talking about an IRONMAN? Well, I’ve had to really dig deep into why it’s taken me so long to commit to completing this task that seems to be difficult but not impossible. One of my best friends, Tim, did it like he was skipping through a play yard. Meanwhile, I have an anxiety attack every time I think of the morning of ANY triathlon. I might be doing a sprint and it feels like I’m going to jump from a million foot cliff!
What I’ve realized is that I’m terrified first of drowning, then quitting, and last disappointing those that have cheered me on. These all stem from embarrassment/shame (which originally stems from fear), well and in one case something else but you get my point. The more I think about actually completing the task the more afraid I get. Finally, I got frustrated with myself enough that I figured it out.
“DAD-GUM-IT!! I HAVE TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO DEAL WITH THE SITUATION!”
If I know how to manage my anxiety (aka FEAR) before the race starts then I can start. If I know how to manage my swim then I won’t drown. If I figure out how to stay motivated and focused on the bike ride then I’ll spin right through it. If I figure out how to shut the voice down in my head during the run then I will finish the race. So really, I’m not even that afraid of it. I just don’t know how to handle ALL of the emotions coming at me at once. Physically I can do it so my fear is just not knowing how to get myself through my mental roadblocks (fear). That lack of knowledge convinced me that I was afraid and that I couldn’t do it.
(AIN’T THAT SOME CRAP!!! Wasted 2 years because I couldn’t figure out how to control my brain!!!!…. Advice peeps, figure out how to deal with your stuff!)
So how can this help you? (I’ll tell you another short story and then the wisdom will come)
My sister and I were talking and she was having a hard evening. I’d had a hard day as well so I instantly related. She kept saying she was having feelings of “deep sadness” from her gut. My suggestion to her was to go take a walk. On that walk, I suggested she focus on her breathing, the sounds around her, the way her legs felt, the beads of sweat forming, and basically anything else that would get her out of her head. Rather than focusing on the emotional aspect, she targeted the physical. I caught back up with her afterwards and I asked “how did your walk go???” and she said “Good… it helped! Got to see a beautiful sunset. Practiced some of my solo… was a good idea!”
The takeaway from this story is that being prepared to handle the “uncomfortable” will make you less afraid. Having a plan on how to get out of those moments prepares you to escape with little to no injury. Does that make sense??? Think of it this way (all the Southerners will love this), tornados are scary. If you have a storm shelter or a place to go during the storm you are much more prepared when a tornado shows up on your doorstep. We can’t all look like Carrie Underwood in her Blown Away music video….
If we look at fear as a lack of knowledge on how to deal with uncomfortable situations our goal to conquer fear is to have a plan on how to overcome it.
Quick tips on how to deal with fear…
- Acknowledge it
- Describe it
- FACE IT
- Identify activities/thoughts/actions that change your thinking
- Know your strategy
- ACT and TRUST that you are prepared
Boom, MIC drop!
What are your thoughts on FEAR???