Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Feel the fear

You know what they say. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Well, I've done that often enough.  My whole life has been a story of overcoming my natural timidity and saying, fuck it, I really want to do this and I'm going to do it.

I fear all sorts of silly things. Other people's reactions. Simple tasks that turn into never-ending nightmares. Any kind of DIY. Looking like an idiot. Setting off some appalling catastrophe. Getting in too deep. Saying the wrong thing. Letting people down.

But over the years I've learnt to put all these absurd fears to one side, take a deep breath and plunge in anyway. I know from experience that most of the fears will turn out to be unfounded and everything will work out fine. So I brace myself, leap off the cliff-edge, and guess what. Nothing dreadful happens.

I don't look like an idiot. Nobody laughs at me. There's no appalling catastrophe. The world doesn't end. Life goes on.

To look at me, you probably wouldn't suspect I'm awash with secret fears. I've had lots of practice at seeming confident and on top of things. My face doesn't give much away. I'm adept at feigning world-weary nonchalance. As most of us are after years of having to deal with things that frighten the life out of us.

But it's not the done thing to reveal your private fears. Maybe to your closest friends after a drink or two. But not in public, not to just anyone. And certainly not in the workplace. There you're expected to be poised and ready for anything. So we keep our fears and our faked bravado to ourselves.

But hey, what's all the fuss about? Haven't you heard? You have nothing to fear but fear itself. Problem solved!

33 comments:

Ursula said...

No shame in fear. Yet, as you say, ours, even if we only have one, and at that possibly a well founded one, are close up and personal. Who lays bare their Achilles heel(s)?

Where I believe "anxious" being a neuro/psychological disorder, "fear" does have a sound foundation in evolutionary terms. I'd say fear is an instinct we acquired back in the cave, linking straight into caution. And exercising caution I'd advise any day. Might not sound like me but is. I have little time for dare devils, people jumping in feet first without engaging brain. Which is not to say that I don't respect adrenaline junkies who take CALCULATED risks. But, when they fall off their slack line, the Eiger Wall, are swallowed by an avalanche or kiss a tree, my sympathy is limited.

So, my dear Nick, there you go: Feeling fear (judiciously applied) might not be so bad after all.

U

Dave Martin said...

I think the only fear I have that stops me doing things is of crowds.
Therefore I don't do airports, big concerts, or busy shops.
Eventually I'll probably have to face an airport if I want to go abroad on holiday, and at that point I'll have no choice but to face my demons.
Any other fears are well founded, like Ursula mentions above.
I wouldn't hurl myself out of a plane without a parachute, I wouldn't take heroin, and I wouldn't poke a tiger with a stick.
This may in part be due to fear, but also because they're blatantly stupid things to do.
Misplaced fear can hold us back, but justified fear keeps us alive.
The trick is being able to tell the difference...

Ms Scarlet said...

I am an over anxious type, a worrier. It's very annoying - I am working on it. As for fear, I agree with Ursula and Dave.
Sx

Rummuser said...

Why get into situations where such problems arise? If by accident one does, one has to act anyway and fear has nothing to do with what one does.

Nick said...

Ursula: Well, fear of physical danger is a well-founded fear that prevents us from being seriously injured. But the sort of fear I'm talking about - fear of everyday activities for all sorts of odd reasons, usually involving other people - is not well-founded at all. It's just something that has to be overcome one way or another.

Nick said...

Dave: Crowds don't bother me at all. I used to live in London where crowds are the norm. Just as long as they aren't so dense I'm being jostled and shoved every ten seconds. Then I'm out of there.

Scarlet: Join the club. I'm an anxious type too. It's a hard thing to shift, I tend to just work around it.

Nick said...

Ramana: Some situations are unavoidable. Like things I have to do at work. Or social events of any kind. I'm not good at trivial chatter, I have to make a big effort to talk and not fall silent.

Ursula said...

You are right. I suppose one might say there are fears, real fears justified in reason, and there are irrational fears. Fears that prevent us from doing what comes natural to others. One of the most cited ones being public speaking.

And then, to further your argument, there are "phobias", feeling uncomfortable, maybe like Dave's example of crowds. I don't like confined spaces. Also remember the Angel's trembling lip and refusing to enter a lift when he was about four. No idea what brought that on. He is ok with lifts now - probably because I never forced the issue. Escalator/stairs? Fine. Whatever. As long as there is an alternative, take it. Legs are made for walking.

Having "listened" to you for a long time, I can't help thinking that a lot of your fear/anxiety/call it what you like have more to do with you being self conscious. Worried about what other people think. Don't, Nick. Seriously. On the whole people are self absorbed, not particularly observant, and worry about their own impact on others enough to not notice your quirks, the ones you worry about. Trust me.

Just be yourself, Nick (within limits). And smell the freedom that brings.

U

John Gray said...

I was a shy kid.....and to me shy = fear
It isnt the same thing

Nick said...

Ursula: I wouldn't say I had phobias, which to my mind are characterised by serious physical disturbances like shaking, vomiting, panic attacks etc. My fears are just nagging apprehensions that undermine my confidence. Yes, I think self-consciousness is part of it, but there are other things contributing. Like over-sensitivity and perfectionism maybe.

Nick said...

John: I think shyness is basically just lack of confidence. That lack of confidence may or may not be caused by the sort of fears I'm describing.

What a tangled web we weave!

Wisewebwoman said...

I think we're thought to "perform" life all through our childhoods and therein lies the rub when we consciously break away from those old destructive and spirit destroying patterns.
XO
WWW

Nick said...

www: I don't follow you. What do you mean by performing life?

Jenny Woolf said...

I tend to feel more irrational anxiety than fear. I suppose they are different?

Nick said...

Jenny: I guess both anxieties and fears can be both rational and irrational! I might have an understandable anxiety that an operation might go wrong, but a quite irrational anxiety that my house might suddenly collapse.

Bijoux said...

You are fearful of DIY projects?

Nick said...

Bijoux: I certainly am. I always find them amazingly stressful. I'm never entirely sure what I'm doing and I'm petrified that any moment I'll do the wrong thing, bugger everything up and have to call in a professional to sort out the mess.

helen devries said...

If I have to do it then I have to do it...doesn't stop me prevaricating before finally using the telephone...I hate the things....whereas using Skype on video is no problem at all.
What is it that puts me off verbal communication without the ability to see the other party?

Nick said...

Helen: I'm a bit like that myself. I'm very comfortable with Skype but less so with the phone. I suppose when I can see the person, talking to them seems more natural, but when it's just a voice talking to a voice, it's a little weird.

tammy j said...

if i weren't fearful i would move to victoria british columbia... or at least to vancouver.
i just don't have the courage to do that in many ways.
or i would own a cute little rv or van and tour the country.
the thought of doing either of those two things fills me with fear.
other types of fears i'm pretty ok with.

Nick said...

Tammy: Jenny and I plucked up the courage to move to Belfast from London some 16 years ago. It's worked out well and we're very glad we came over here. Touring the country sounds like a great idea. You must steel yourself to do it before it's too late and you regret not doing it.

Jacqueline @ HOME said...

I'm not keen on getting old but, the plus side of it is that you learn to conquer your fears a bit and, you don't worry what people say of think about you anymore !!!! ... and, I speak up a bit more for myself too { although none of these things are a very good substitute for the saggy face !!! } XXXX

Nick said...

Jacqueline: I'm still waiting for that magic day when I no longer care what other people think about me! If anything I'm even more careful not to offend or insult anyone. I don't want to be that egotistical loudmouth who upsets everyone in sight and then walks out, oblivious to the emotional fall-out.

ursula said...

Nick, the exchange between you and Helen amused me so much.

I am the complete opposite to the two of you. I love the phone. The only reason my phone bill isn't exorbitant because I do have a very good value contract (£8.00/mth) which allows me call round the world for nothing. In fact, a lot of my social life is spent on the phone. Geography's needs must.

SKYPE? And this is what me smile about both of you: Can't bear the thought, has me in knots. Maybe I am shy after all. All I have ever seen of Skype watching others using it (I may be wrong) that it's not real time, faces are distorted, you can't hold eye contact and it creeps me out. So, there, strange isn't it? What is one person's dream is another's nightmare.

What's your number? :)

U

Anonymous said...

Where are all your fears coming from ? I have none of all those fears described.It must be frihtening to always feel afraid. Your posts turn very much about all sort of problems. Who puts such pressure on you ? I hope you sometimes feel happy.
Mia More

Nick said...

Ursula: You can make calls all around the world for £8 a month? How do you manage that?

I don't think your Skype works very well. Mine is real time, it doesn't distort faces and eye contact is easy. But yes, as you say, one person's dream is another's nightmare!

Nick said...

Mia: Sorry about that, my hang-ups creep into everything! I keep planning to write cheerful, light-hearted posts but somehow they end up not being that at all! I must try harder. I think all the pressure comes from me. I don't get pressure from other people.

Anonymous said...

Oh sorry it's not a reproach.Just feel sorry for you. You seem to be such a nice person.
Mia More

Ursula said...

Yes, I know it sounds crazy. This is how it works. I do have a contract with Sky. This is broadband (wifi) and landline only. Films are streamed via the Angel's Netflix. Don't know what he pays. Dare say, not much. He hates waste.

So the deal is - a fee for broadband(about £28.00) plus £8.00/month for national and international calls. Providing you put the phone down after an hour (you can immediately redial) you pay nought. Naturally, there are people in my life who make me forget the hour and then I pay through my nose, but essentially it's marvellous for me and other chatterboxes in my life. I can even phone India for nothing. Dow cool is that? Don't tell Ramana. He might feel cheap.

U

Nick said...

Mia: Well, thank you! I am a nice person (no false modesty there), but I have my dark side. A bit Jekyll and Hyde-ish I guess. But I'm going to try really hard to write a cheerful blog post. My partner, Jenny, says I seem happy most of the time, but sometimes my neuroses demand an audience!

Nick said...

Ursula: Oh, so there's a basic broadband charge to add to the £8. We make very few phone calls so it's probably not worth our going for that option. We do have Sky TV but our broadband is BT. We Skype our friend in Melbourne every fortnight and that's free of course.

Hattie said...

I had to give up on understanding myself after years of trying. (-;
Right now I'm having a lot of fun observing how my grandkids' Personalities are developing. I think I tend to the objective about human nature, even my own nature.

Nick said...

Hattie: Me too. The more I try to understand myself, the more mystifying my tangled thoughts and emotions and perspectives seem to be. I observe my own actions with continuing astonishment.