I have spent lots of time thinking about fear and how it impacts our lives on a daily basis. To give clarity of my thoughts I have to explain two loose standing things, and will then link the two together.
I’ll start with the concept. Leon recently shared some of his research with me about the reasons we as humans get stuck in our current lives. It is hard for our brain to overcome the fear of doing something different that may hurt today, but in the long run could potentially change our lives for the better. We would rather hold onto our current situation, even if it makes us unhappy or even hurts us, because we know it, it’s not unfamiliar. So as an example, if you are in a relationship where your partner breaks you down, isolates you from the world or the relationship brings you more hurt than joy, you would much easier justify all the reasons you should stay than reasons you should leave. If you think of it – the world are full of candidates that will probably suit you better, treat you better. But the fear of the unknown and new things will keep you holding onto that relationship until it gets absolutely unbearable and you are forced into the unknown.
Second thing – a recent event in my life. I took Cassidy for blood tests two weeks ago. I knew from the start she is scared of needles. I know of a lot of people who are scared of needles, although it is not necessarily something I understand. At the doctor rooms she tried to find every excuse not to go. At the time I laughed with her thinking that she was her joking funny self, looking back though it was hysteria. Once we got her on the bed to draw blood it took everything from me and the doctor to get her to relax. She kept curling her head up to look at what the doctor does. It took all my energy to get her to focus on looking at me or the roof. She also started hyperventilating and no matter how hard we tried she battled to control her breathing – either not breathing or breathing short shallow breaths. When we were done she felt faint. While I was paying the bill she was pacing in the waiting room like an animal who knows they’re being taken to the slaughter house. I thought she would calm down in the car, but she didn’t. I tried to convince her to think of a happy place and go there and focus her mind there, but she couldn’t. I finally realised it is up to me to calm her down if I wanted to avoid a panic attack. I started asking about her monologue she had done earlier that day and school, and as she spoke about it I asked more questions. It worked, and after 15 minutes she piped up ‘I’m calm now!’. It took about an hour from starting to draw blood up to the point where she was finally calm.
Now the link. I know fear, every race I do I get scared, every potential accident on the bike or bicycle I get scared, when I went climbing I often got scared, hell even thinking about it my palms have gone sweaty. But I have a whole new perspective of fear now. And this perspective explains to me why we hold onto what we know. The fear of entering a new door and closing off the old one is one where we hyperventilate, go into flat spins, we absolutely panic. Because we don’t experience the physical symptoms we brush it off and we make this fear a small thing. But imagine that your mind is going exactly what Cassidy went through when trying to create a new link it doesn’t understand. It can be debilitating, as a matter of fact for 99% of our population it is.
When we decide to try something new – diet, stop smoking, changing our attitude – our mind experiences this fear. Imagine a thousand little men pacing in your brain not knowing what to do or where to next. And what do we do – we berate ourselves for ‘failing’. No wonder we’re so scared!!!
My message to you, and actually mostly to myself, treat changes the same way you would treat your five year old going to school for the first day. You prepare them, meet the teacher, see if it’s the school you would feel comfortable to leave them at for half of or the whole day. Then you create some hype – buy stationary, new school bag, new clothes. The first day you walk with them to class, help them find a seat, introduce them to friends. The second day you may do the same, until one day they don’t want you to even kiss them goodbye because they may feel embarrassed. Be gentle with yourself as you embrace changes. Embrace as much as you can handle and then wait there for a while. If it gives you some good results take a couple more steps. And eventually in a week, or month, or year, or even a decade you’ll look back and not even remember how life could have been any different.
Take the plunge!