Just this morning I stumbled upon one of those citations again that told me to get myself right into my fears’ way. Something like this:
“Do whatever you fear most and you will get rid of that fear.”
I used to believe these citations. For many years, I felt that if I still am afraid of doing certain things I just haven’t worked hard enough yet. I had failed.
Meanwhile, oftentimes I get angry about that kind of sentence.
Well, it certainly IS true in some situations: When I was a little kid I was afraid to go down the playground slide. Eventually I did it, heart beating like crazy, but I did it. And it turned out to be fun, I did it again and again and on bigger slides.
But in my world as a grown-up, facing things I fear rarely comes with that kind of instant gratification.
Oftentimes I cannot even really avoid to do these kind of tasks. But when I need to face them I get into some kind of “Survival Mode” and I get things done.
The drawback: no real learning involved in that model. I just am so glad I got it over with. The next time around it will be pretty much the same situation again.
So is there actually a way to come to terms with that kind of fear?
Meanwhile I believe that the fear will not really go away. Fear is something that is so deeply ingrained into our lizard brain that there is no way I will be able to eradicate it.
Besides, it used to play a big role when it came to survival. So in a way, it does have it’s use cases, even though it often is pretty unhelpful in today’s life.
I suppose the only way to deal with fear is to accept it’s there. Take it on the ride and just try to go on. This way, while consciously edging forward knowing this is going to be hard, you actually might learn something.
You might even find out what it is that causes your fear in that situation. You can deconstruct your feelings, look closely at body sensations and try to be curious instead of fearful.
What it really takes, though, is to be able to step back a bit and take a look. See what’s going on. Feel what your body is showing you. Take a breath and try to just continue.
Actually it’s pretty much the opposite of “survival mode”. So please don’t try it if it is the sabre-toothed tiger that’s looming. But it might help if you are afraid of speaking up in that meeting. Or sending that application.