“Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” is the title of a great book by Susan Jeffers. I think maybe I need to read it again.
I’ve written about this previously but recently I experienced a ‘breakthrough’ in my thinking and attitude to life which has opened up the proverbial can of worms.
Some of those ‘fear worms’ are eating away at me. Irrational fears – fears about things ‘going wrong’, fears about things not happening – or not happening the way I want.
The annoying thing is that I’ve been trained to deal with fear. I’ve been trained to help others deal with their fears – so I should be able to cope with mine!
I guess this is when the coach needs a coach – we are not invincible!
But this insight isn’t just about me. I’ll get sorted out (with a little help from my friends) because I know that I have fear.
The thing is that most people don’t, or if they do, if they are fearful, then they aren’t sure or aren’t aware of the basis of their fear.
It’s irrational, it’s unfounded, it’s often based on complete unreality.
They aren’t fears about what will or will not happen when a certain known event occurs like a change of government or a change of occupation, or even something as simple as whether they should talk to or communicate with someone or not!
These aren’t fears that can be defined.
All people start life with fears: fear of falling and fear of loud noises apparently. No idea why, but that’s what accepted knowledge tells us.
As we acquire knowledge and experience our fears change according to the paths of our lives, and outside the ‘rational’, ‘logic based’ fear of change, our fears (observing it as a non psychologist) seem to fall into two types.
Some easy to resolve and some more difficult to deal with.
No-one, including you and I, is exempt from fear. The difference is that you and I have access to techniques to overcome it.
Others don’t, and others don’t even realise that some of their beliefs and feelings are based on fear.
The first, ‘easy’ type of fear are the phobias that most people have at some time in their lives.
Fear of spiders I think is one of the top ones along with fear of public speaking, and then there’s snakes, flying, water, heights, and on and on.
(Sorry if I’ve scared anyone with that.)
I used to have a phobia about cliffs and rough seas. My grandparents lived in a seaside town, Folkestone, and this phobia may have come from being constantly told not to go ‘too close to the edge’ in rough weather.
That phobia disappeared completely when I became a scuba diver and dive boat handler and learnt how to ‘read’ the sea.
But I took on the ‘don’t go too close to the edge’ conditioning in other ways as well, up until a few years ago.
Phobias can easily be disposed of. There are several techniques including EFT (tapping) which is probably the most well known. Hypnotherapy is also excellent but doesn’t work well with people who have a fear of hypnotists! (Showbiz has a lot to answer for!)
The other fears are what I call ‘hidden’ fears.
These are fears that people don’t know why they have or fears that they are actually unaware of.
Usually these manifest as prejudices at various levels.
At a fundamental level people are brought up to be prejudiced against all sorts of things; race, culture, religion, and so forth.
These aren’t specific phobias but are deeply embedded, taking fundamental changes in thinking to remove.
Other prejudices are more focused on situations and environments. This is where age and gender prejudices reside. These prejudices are usually developed through exposure to ideas in the media, politics and entertainment, but can also be developed from parental or peer group ‘advice’.
The thing is that all these prejudices are in fact fears – but that isn’t usually admitted or understood.
When you and I get people to examine their prejudices rationally (not an easy thing to do at all) their unfounded fears can go away quickly, especially when the appropriate evidence is presented, and when they believe it!
The trouble is that people ‘like’ their prejudices, they are part of their ‘comfort zone’. They are, as far as they are concerned, ‘the truth’, to the extent that they don’t even recognise them as prejudice – it’s just ‘the way things are’.
Prejudice is at the heart of conflict – even between groups who share the same religious faith.
The objective as exemplified by the Nazi party in Germany is to eliminate (i.e. exterminate) the group against which you are prejudiced – because, deep down, you’re afraid of them – almost always on no grounds whatsoever.
But back to where I started.
I find myself the subject of people’s fears, their prejudices – in particular, ageism, and fear of the unknown.
I’m constantly being told that I’m ‘too old’ or that I ‘don’t have enough time left’. People seem to think that because I’m ‘old’ I’m not capable of understanding their ‘young’ position, or that I won’t be able to deal with certain technology.
They seem to be oblivious of the fact that that to get ‘old’ you have to be young first, and also that some of us have been dealing with IT since before their parents were born!
Fundamentally ageism comes from their fear of getting ‘old’ so they don’t want to engage.
Then there are the people who won’t engage because they don’t know what’s going to happen.
It’s “What’s going to happen if I talk to him? Is he going to try to sell me something? Will he try to make me do something I don’t want to do” or simply “I don’t know what might happen”.
I’m frustrated about not being able to get around these conditioned prejudices and being able to help or even meet people I know I can assist in some way, whatever their quest.
It seems the people who need help are the most fearful of accepting it or even finding out what’s on offer.
More specifically my fears are about wasting my time on people who have unknowingly, to them or me, prejudged me on some grounds, some logic they don’t actually recognise as fear.
That’s why I’m feeling the fear. It’s illogical I know, and I may well have a few hidden prejudices in the mix as well. But I know that I should be able to deal with it and what’s more know how to deal with it.
Feel the fear, notice the fear, reject it and get on whatever you wanted to do anyway.