Eleanor Roosevelt said you should do something every day that scares you. There’s also a hugely influential book called “Fear the Fear and Do It Anyway”.
I’ve got some scary stuff coming up – going on stage for a three-week run, including singing in public (not done since I was at college). I’m not having the naked-in-public dreams yet (not had those since I was about to quit the salaried job to work on my own…and then was cured when the boss said, “yes, I dream of you naked in public, too.” That got rid of any fear I had about leaving the job!). And I’ve been doing some other scary stuff, too. All of which makes me think. And lucky ole you can join in the thinkin’.
What scares you? We can say, first of all, “making a fool of ourselves”, but actually, it’s being a fool in other people’s eyes, really, isn’t it? It’s not so bad if we’re the only ones who think we’re a fool. We can set about righting that problem in private. So, it’s other’s low opinion of us that is a scary prospect. We can be scared of pain, too – for ourselves or others; and of loss, having what we cherish taken from us. In all cases, it’s a prospect: it’s not frightening once it’s happened – it’s regrettable, awful or even perhaps not as bad as you thought it would be, but we’re not frightened by it once it has come about. And that’s the common element of fear – the “might”, the possibility of a bad thing.
So what? What’s the gap between fear (prospect) and the actual (outcome)? Your fears can be put to rest finally with just one thing – knowledge; certainty. But of course, when we’re talking about the future, you can’t have certainty (“No, It’s OK, Imp – you won’t muck up on stage.” No – not too credible, unless you have a crystal ball.). But you can when you’re talking about the present or past – “no; you’re wrong – your little sister has not just poisoned your doughnut.”
Can we therefore use this reminder to help soothe fears? Well, you can, in a way. You can break down the big fear, the “what-if”, by turning its various elements into its constituent, present-dependent parts…..like this:
- have you practiced all your words?
- does the director have confidence in you?
- are you still working hard to make sure you don’t muck up?
- have you identified all your own weak spots and worked to make them stronger?
And of course, when you do that exercise, you remind yourself that mucking up is much less likely – you bring rationale into play – and what a trusty shield it is!
So – more scary things needed…!