Don't Just Face Your Fears, Learn to Love Them

facing your fear fear growth warrior spirit warrior training

I'm not talking about small fears either, like strapping into a roller coaster and just holding on. I'm talking about big fears that make you question your worth as a human being and your ability to support yourself, your family, and live up to your own standards of worth. Fears that bring up questions like, "Will I be able to feed myself for the next year?", or, "What if I fail and let down everyone who is relying on me, and they think I'm selfish and never talk to me again?", "What happens if I write my innermost ideas and people think they are stupid? Does that mean I'm inherently stupid?"

These are not fears that are easily overcome. Especially because sometimes they are justified and validated: occasionally, you will mess up and not be able to feed yourself for a year.

Given this reality - that sometimes your fears are justified - you'll always be a little afraid of doing some things. Every single time I do a front flip, there is a little fear in my mind that distracts me. If I sit and think about it, I'll mess up and actually strengthen it next time. But if I ignore it, I do the flip a little better every time, until eventually there is absolutely no fear.

Accepting Your Fear, Letting it Pass Through

Assuming you accept the necessity of facing your fears in personal Warrior Training (you can see I'm trying to incorporate more of the blog theme into the posts...), there is really only one way to really overcome your fears and incorporate the new, uncomfortable, and scary life skill/behavior/ring routine in such a way that it is not scary. That is to delight in the thrill of growth, to laugh in the face of your worst terrors, even as you are shaking in your knickers, to realize that half the fun of striking out on your own is the thrill of fear that accompanies it.

I'll admit this is a bit masochistic. It's bad enough that some of us enjoy putting our bodies through discomfort in training hard. To enjoy psychological stress is just plain sadistic. Nevertheless, I am pretty sure that fear is the mind's equivalent of muscle fatigue or that burning sensation in your lungs when you run fast, which is to say, fear is necessary for spiritual growth. Just as you can tell your workout is a waste of time if you aren't a little uncomfortable, you're probably not challenging your spirit enough if you are not a little scared.

Find the things you are scared of, and practice them until they no long scare you, until you find them second nature. Don't just face your fears. Learn to love them.

From Fear to Thrill

Some fears I've overcome and actually gotten good at:

Flying airplanes/instrument flying: When I started flying, it stressed me out so much I would get home from lessons and practically cry. But I wanted so badly to be a pilot. I kept at it and eventually got to the point that it was easy and actually fun to try landing in difficult conditions.

Talking to girls/meeting new people: When I first started "dating" I was both inept and terrified. Approaching a girl put me in a state of fear known only to deer about to be run over by trucks. I eventually accepted that I'd have to go through that discomfort, found some good advice, and just kept putting myself in uncomfortable situations, forcing myself to behave in ways that were strange and scary. Now, I find it fun and enjoyable to meet new people, male or female, though there is still that thrill of putting yourself out there.

Publishing my blog: The first writing I did online was pretty abstract and cold. I stuck to a very formal style, and only let my very close friends see what I wrote. I used a pseudonym and did everything I could to avoid putting my real voice and opinions out there, for fear of offending someone or committing to a particular stance. But I knew that wasn't a good trait in a real writer, so I started testing the waters, getting a bit of a thrill every time I published something controversial or let my quirkiness come out. Nobody snuck into my house and mugged me, so I deemed it pretty safe to continue to do so. I still feel a little worried every time my voice comes out in a particularly khaled-esque manner, but I'm getting more comfortable with pushing the boundaries.

Quit my job to pursue my own vision: This was the most recent one. It took me a very long time to get up the nerve to actually do it, and I can't really say that I've actually gotten good at it. But I have turned down several jobs that would have kept me from pursuing what I really wanted to do, so I am less afraid sticking to my guns when someone offers me the moon.

Gymnastics: Every time I attempted a dislocate, I worried my shoulders were going to come off. Every time I'd do a front flip, I half expected to land on my head. While there is a thrill to flying through the air like that, it is not found in that kind of fear. However, I trusted myself, my instructor, and my luck, and can now do these skills without too much trepidation. Which just means I'm attempting harder ones that still freak me out.

I've always lived my life by the philosophy that if something scares you, go do it until you can confidently face up to it any day of the week. It's gotten me far, and I've had some pretty cool experiences as a result.

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