FEAR… This topic keeps cropping up. Yes, every day. And I’ve encountered a particularly rich batch of it recently. But, once I stumbled my way through it, I thought, “What the heck?!? Why did I waste all that time being worked up about it?”
You see, when I finally faced the terrifying thing (actually it was a hard conversation), it really wasn’t such a big deal.
Obviously, there are cases of fear in response to something truly horrrific, or the anticipation of a danger. I am not diminishing the reality of accidents, injury, violence, abuse, war, and many other non-trivial cases. In these cases, fear is a critical, emotional tool that should be “listened to.”
The kind of fear I am referring to in this blog post, starts as a flicker of concern and develops into an enduring condition without legitimate basis in the present situation. This variety of concern goes from being a dram of fear wriggling its way forward in your mind, begins to roll, and then picks up speed and velocity. Soon after, the little worry quickly evolves into a tumbling boulder, and then a bone-crushing behemoth of terror. But, once confronted, the frightening thing is unmasked as a mirage, an illusion, more than likely created from old painful experiences from your life.
This was certainly the situation with that tough conversation I was so nervous about having. I had created a web of horrible, upsetting versions of how the conversation, and its aftermath, could go. As my mind chewed on all of those potential scenarios, I got more and more panicky, anxious, and worried. With each passing negative fantasy, I was essentially feeding my fear a high calorie diet. It became full and powerful. With it’s increased energetic size, the fear occupied a huge amount of my time, thought, and energy.
As often with the brilliant light of things seen in hindsight, the day after my big conversation/confrontation, I remembered a saying a friend had shared with me years before. He said, “More often than not, fear is really just, ‘false evidence appearing real.'” That’s:
It’s incredibly accurate, right?!
Shortly after recalling this wise gem, I used it to handle another looming fear. The first step was to step back from the problem to gain a slightly different perspective. From a bit more distance, I could see it in its proper scale and with more clarity. By that simple act of examining it in a more scientific, detached way, I had a proverbial “Wizard of Oz” moment. Toto had pulled the curtain to reveal the small man fiddling with levers and knobs to frighten me.
So, the next time you find yourself in a semi paralysis from an anticipated, worrisome concern, step back a bit, and recall the perspective that what you are afraid of may be a collection of false evidence, that looks really real. And you can pull back the curtain on it, and see it for what it is: a smaller problem that you are very capable and skilled enough to handle. Oh, and remember to breathe. That helps too.