The Fear of You

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Bugs. Heights. Deep water. We all have fears. Some of us have many, but the greatest fear that we will ever have is the fear we create.

It’s not the big hairy spider but the thought of what it might do. That shadow down the hall. What could it be? Our fear is our own creation. Just like our monster, our fear(s) are unique to us. This is why horror movie directors rely on the unknown. Some of the scariest movies are the ones that don’t show the monster, don’t reveal what’s making the scraping sound in the basement, instead they let us imagine what it might be. No special effects can replicate our own imagination.

In all honesty, the scariest thing in your life is you. Forget about bugs, heights, your creepy neighbour or broccoli soup. You are your own worst fear and in turn, can create some of the most bloodcurdling, fear inducing horror stories ever imagined. The good news is you can control them. These are the stories where you can change the ending! It’s all about being self-aware and paying attention. Your skills of observation are the silver bullet.

Just like sunlight to a vampire, awareness will destroy some of these fears. Can you remember a moment when things weren’t actually as bad as you thought they were? Of course you can, we all can. We have the ability to blow things out of proportion and over-react. Just like recognizing our monster, seeing our fear for what it is will help you deal with it.

For example, I used to be deathly afraid of flying. No matter what people told me or the safety statistics put in front of me, it was something that I passionately avoided. When I did have to fly it was a white knuckle, eyes closed rollercoaster until we landed and this doesn’t even include the heavy anxiety days or even weeks before the flight. It was paralyzing and kept me from enjoying some of the fantastic places that I have now visited. My fear was addressed by simply rethinking the experience. Instead of focusing on the time in the air, I focused on my destination. The excitement of being in Mexico, New Orleans or San Francisco overpowered my fear. I replaced my pain, fear of flying, with pleasure, tequila and tacos! Nothing else changed, just my perspective. Your mind is incredibly powerful. As I said at the beginning, it can be your worst enemy but also your greatest power. It’s all about perspective.

This same principle applies to our fear of speaking in front of crowds, starting a new job, ending a relationship and being alone. In this case it is the fear of change. Just like the fear of flying, we will overthink it. Over complicate it. Like my fear of flying, I denied myself the opportunity of experiencing the world, the joys of living! Change is scary and if we give in to fear, we deny ourselves. We deny ourselves the experience of loving relationships, meaningful experiences and ultimately, the ability to realize our potential.

To reiterate: you are the scariest thing in your life. You scare the shit out of yourself. Probably daily! This fear works like a magnifier. Any situation will appear ten times worse through our eyes. My point is don’t worry about something until there is something to worry about. Sounds silly but it is so true.

So, sit back, fasten your seatbelt and enjoy your flight. The destination is so worth it!

Robert SmithComment