In my first post I talked about facing and overcoming my fears and the fact that I have come to believe that what can limit us in life, if we let it, is fear. Over the past few weeks I’ve thought a lot about what it means to overcome my fears and in doing so I looked up the definition of ‘overcome’. The dictionary defines this word as to ‘succeed in dealing with (a problem)’ or to ‘defeat’ something.
My recent thinking is that fear is not necessarily a problem but a life essential, a quote that really highlights this for me is one by Edward Vernon Rickenbacker, who said:
“Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.”
I totally agree. Now that I have understood how I let fear limit my life, I have made a decision to seek out my fears, look them square in the face and use those fears to propel me to do things that push me out of my comfort zone and force me to be courageous.
The different types of fear
Fear is a funny one. It can manifest in so many ways and what can terrify one person can delight another which can often make fear very hard to pin down.
For me fear shows itself at three different levels:
1. High level fear: This is the kind of activity that gets adrenalin pumping around my veins causing my heart to race and my palms to sweat. Past examples of this type of fear for me include mountain biking down the world’s most dangerous road (Bolivia) and posting a link to my blog on Facebook for all my friends and family to see. What I feared in each example was totally different, the first was a very real fear of dying and in the second it was a fear of being judged negatively, either for what I had said in my blog or for even writing a blog at all.
2. Medium level fear: For me this is where I have a fear of doing something but doing it doesn’t actually feel that difficult. So, this might include presenting at an event with my job or going on a date. There are likely to be some physical indicators that I am scared or stressed but it’s at a much lower level to high level fear and is something I know that I can just get on and do because thoughts of backing out are not so much of a problem for me.
3. Low level fear: I actually think that this is the most dangerous form of fear because it can so easily go undetected and therefore can do the most damage. Examples of this kind of fear might be asking for a promotion, or joining the social club you’ve always wanted to. In this level we often don’t even admit to ourselves that we are scared, we might make excuses like ‘I haven’t been working hard enough lately, so I’ll ask in a few months’ or ‘I’m too busy at the moment to join that climbing club so I’ll do it next weekend’. It’s at this level that I think we limit ourselves the most because we don’t even acknowledge that the issue, preventing us from taking action, is fear.
The fear-facing plan
In my last post I revealed my goals for the month of May, one of which was:
Complete at least three fear-facing challenges. This goal is very much about pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone and is inspired by Niall Doherty (Disrupting the Rabblement) and his Course in Courage, which I am signed up to and highly recommend.
The challenges that I will be embarking on over the next month are as follows:
1. Record and publish a video blog. This is a high level fear for me, I feel anxious just typing the words. This is in a similar vein to the example I give above, where the fear is very much about being judged negatively by people. I think my fear boils down to people thinking “who does she think she is?” In a video I feel as though I am much more exposed than I am in a written post and this makes for feelings of fear about being judged on what I am saying as well as on how I look and come across.
2. Dance in public. This is my medium level fear. Anyone who knows me well will know that when it comes to dancing I can be a bit wooden to say the least. This is not just because I have two left feet but also because I have a tendency towards feeling self-conscious which stems from a fear of looking stupid. This challenge will involve dancing in a group, to a routine, on the streets of Brighton.
3. Join a social group and attend an event on my own. This is my low level fear. It’s not something that I would say I feel scared of doing but it is something I can see myself making excuses not to do. This is because every time I think of that initial awkwardness, when I turn up to that first meeting, I can immediately think of something else I’d rather do. So despite the desire to join the group and the obvious benefits in doing so, this is a classic example of something that would stay on my to-do list indefinitely.
I will report back to you in a future post on how I get on with these challenges and in the meantime, please share your thoughts and ideas about fear and how to face it by posting a comment. And if you like what I’ve written please do hit the tweet button and share it with others.