The Coward Dies a Thousand Times, The Brave Man Only Once

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People rarely believe me when I say I used to have heaps of Anger, but it’s true – so true that it completely obscured some of the other interesting things going on in my head…

As Anger spent less and less time living with me it became clear that I had another unwelcome flatmate, far less obvious but equally draining of my resources: Fear. Now, when I was angry people noticed, but because I’ve always had a more positive can-do attitude than the general average, my Fear is not something that I got(/get?) feedback on. A pity – it would have been handy to know.

So what is Fear? How does it manifest? It’s certainly an area which has attracted a lot of attention in the world of self-development, and quite rightly so.

Now some of you might be saying, oh yes, but what about the awesome popular quote “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway”? As I’ve written elsewhere, I see this (fairly…) empowering statement as second best. And second best is what you get if you don’t aim for best.

Best is to realise that you can let go of Fear, and that means to understand what it is, and how it operates. Fear is the belief that something “bad” will, or (more usually) might, happen. And that this is a problem.

Sometimes this sort of fear is about something quite likely – if your boss likes shouting at people and you’ve just stuffed up, what you fear is a distinct possibility! Other fears definitely concern stuff in the “better not go outside today – a satellite might land on my head” category.

My recommendation is not to chip hopefully away at Fear of Satellite-Induced Head Injury Syndrome, but to jump in at the deep end. Yes it’s probably going to happen, yes it’ll be a whole heap of unFun, but yes, I have all the resources I need to come through in one piece, probably stronger and happier for it!

I frequently visit India. Some people fear India, believing that it’s a filthy dirty place full of poor people and beggars, a place where you’ll wait for hours (or days) for late trains, be given wrong directions, catch numerous diseases, slip on cow shit, and not be able to get a decent latte.

And when people ask me what India is like, I typically tell them exactly that (it’s true, after all…) but with a huge smile that says “and that’s not something to be worried about, but can be heaps of fun to embrace”. And then I usually say “You should go – it’s great!” Which it really really is. Not just because of the bits I didn’t mention (architecture food scenery culture people…) but because I know I have the resources needed to deal with the less fun things, and because I believe one of the best favours I can do someone is to encourage them to discover that they do too.

Do it anyway, certainly.

But scrap the Fear.

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