It’s not easy.
No one said life would be easy. Maybe not as hard? Sure. But I have a trick that will change the way you think and help you be a stronger, more aware person if you follow through and really be honest.
Again, it’s not easy.
To start, sit in a comfortable place – alone – with a pen and paper. And think about your fears. Not just, oh I’m afraid of spiders, and that’s as deep as it goes. Really imagine your fears, let them come into the light from the darkness we keep them in. What sparked this for me was The Divergent, a post apocalyptic book where a society is divided into factions who hold strong beliefs. In the “dauntless” faction of society, they undergo hallucinations to face all their fears.
I took that and decided I wanted to find the deep fears. So trace little fears back to the root fear. And write a list. This list will change over time, as new experiences and life lessons are added to your world view and paradigm. It shouldn’t be a breeze to write this list, it should take you to a more self aware place. By shedding light on those fears you expose them and they must answer WHY. Then you start to see where there are rational fears, and irrational fears. If you’re comfortable, sharing the list with a loved one can help shed even more light- since they have a different outside view of who you are as a person and how you perceive things.
I don’t think it is necessary in life to conquer fears, I think it is necessary to identify and realize them, and face them whenever possible. Facing our fears helps us understand ourselves, who we are in our culture, how our set of beliefs helps and hinders us, and become stronger more independent people.
Discover the Root Fear
Want an example? I have a slight fear of snowboarding. Almost undetectable, except I get nervous before I get to the mountain. It’s this uncomfortable “I could have fun, but I’m really anxious” butterflies in the stomach sort of feeling. Now, there are some things in life you just don’t want to do (like watching “the news” for me), and that’s different. That’s a feeling where you know who you are and what you want, and there isn’t room for the bullshit. This snowboarding feeling is different. You kinda want to like it and be good at it.
So I started thinking about this unease I felt on the trip to the mountain. What about snowboarding makes me anxious? First thing that pops in my mind is how many stories of good snowboarders have made a little accident on the hill and ended up in the hospital room. Am I afraid of going to the hospital? Other than some light White Coat Syndrome, not really. It would be a hassle, but whatever. Well, what if it isn’t a temporary recovery? What if I really screw myself up, it costs all my savings in the hospital, and I still end up not as functional as I am now? Well now, that strikes a cord. The root fear I discovered (through looking at many other “little fears”) is that I have a fear of dependency. Someone else taking care of me financially and physically. This was a big breakthrough because it drives so much of my personality and interests.
Then I started to wonder, are we driven by our fears? But we’ll get to that later.