Moving Past a Fear

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I don’t remember exactly how I stumbled on Niall Doherty’s fantastic blog, Disrupting the Rabblement, but I’ve really been enjoying his articles on courage and going against the grain. In a great post Curiosity vs. Fear, Niall says

Most people, when they fear doing something, avoid taking action until the fear goes away. “I’m too afraid right now. I’ll do it when I’m feeling more confident.”

The problem is that fear never just goes away by itself. Most people have it backwards. You don’t overcome the fear and then do the thing; you do the thing and then you overcome the fear.

I came across a related article that expanded on this further, written by Jennifer Gresham. She says

How do you make yourself act in the beginning, when you are scared out of your mind?
When you feel scared to make a change, move forward with questions instead of answers.
It’s easy to over-analyze and fret over answers. If you let one question simply lead you to the next, the process is a lot less threatening. Curiosity can be more persistent than fear if you cultivate it.

Some interesting things to think about, aren’t they? Earlier this winter, I felt quite frozen by indecision. I was trying to decide what direction to take for winter work, but at the core, I was nervous about the change that it represented. I had several options, and although some seemed quite interesting, none were really igniting my passion. I saw Jennifer’s suggestion to move forward with questions and gave it a try.

I asked myself “how would I like to spend my time? What am I really good at? What is the best use of my skills (and therefore my time)? What type of work would suit me best?” Asking myself questions like this helped me cut through some of my confusion and figure out what I really wanted. And none of the questions triggered fear, which can be one of the most paralyzing things about making a decision or taking action of any kind.

So, questions spurred on by the desire to learn something about yourself or figure something out can greatly help you find curiosity where there was fear. Once you feel better about things, the answers to just some of those questions can help you move forward. Don’t worry about questions that don’t have answers; I didn’t have the most enlightening solutions at first, but my brain worked on the questions for a while and my intuition really kicked in and I got some fantastic ideas — things I was really excited about.

What if you are stuck on questions that seem hopeless, like “how am I ever going to make this work?” If you catch yourself thinking like this, counter with “what one small thing can I do to improve just one aspect of this situation?” You can turn “what if this doesn’t work out” into “what if this does turn out? There is probably a 50-50 chance… what would that look like?” If you can start imagining your situation improving, even a little, you’ll head away from fear and towards confidence, courage and curiosity.

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