Sunday, October 6, 2013

Fear vs. Purpose

"You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."

A.A. Milne

“Extreme fear can neither fight nor fly, but coward-like with trembling terror die.” 


“To be feared of a thing and yet to do it, is what makes the prettiest kind of a man.” 

Robert Louis Stevenson

I’ve been working all day on one goal:  Getting my first e-book published.  But first I had to finish the darn thing.  It’s not that hard.  It’s most doing copy and paste with some minor editing.  But it’s taking more time than I thought it would, as these things tend to do.  When I’m done with that part, I need to read the Smashwords Style Guide to make sure that it’s formatted properly.             
This hasn’t been an easy day.  It hasn’t been a bad day; it just hasn’t been an easy one.  I’ve been working most of the day and most of last night.  I’m working now.  I’m faced with the possibility that I might not reach my goal and that frustrates and frightens me.  I’m not even sure why it frightens me, but it does.  And this is all over a self-imposed deadline. 
I had dinner with a former teacher and his wife recently.  He said he’d been reading my blogs and he noticed an undercurrent of fear in them.  And though I wasn’t consciously projecting that, it was obviously there, at least for him.   This time, however, I’m putting my fears are out there.  These are the things that frighten me:
·      Not doing what I said I would do;
·      Being lazy;
·      Not doing my best;
·      Not reaching my goals;
·      Not reaching my full potential.

What does one do with one’s fears?  First, they have to be acknowledged.  Sometimes that’s the hardest part.  Sometimes my fears are  so huge that I can’t even name them, like Voldemort in the Harry Potter series, “he who must not be named.”  They’re so huge that I can’t even talk about them.  Other fears are so small that I don’t even realize they are there, hiding like cockroaches.  The way to reduce both types of fear is to communicate, to talk and to bring them out in the light. 
I’ve also used Byron Katie’s method, called The Work.  I’ve mentioned this before and it has helped me.  It’s a series of four questions and a “turnaround.”  These are the questions:
·      Is it true?
·      Do I know for sure that it’s true?
·      How does it make me feel?
·      Who would I be without that thought (fear)?
·      Then do the turnaround, an opposite of that fear.

Since I’ve mentioned this in other blogs, I won’t expound further, other than to say it has helped me many times and that this works most effectively when written.
Another way to deal with fear is to present the opposite scenario.  Instead of focusing on what I don’t want, I can focus on what I do want.
·      I want to do what I say I will do;
·      I want to work hard;
·      I want to do my best;
·      I want to reach my goals;
·      I want that feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment when I reach my objective.
·      I want to feel good about myself.

Those ideas, not my fears, should be my motivation.   Thich Nhat Hanh, author of You Are Here, might tell us to say to our fears, “Dear one, I am here for you.”  Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art, might say to not give our fear too much power and that fear is our resistance.  Others might say to fight our fears with all our might.  Thomas Carlyle said, “The first duty of man is to conquer fear; he must get rid of it, he cannot act till then.
So, which is it:  embrace, ignore or fight?  Perhaps it’s a little of each.  Perhaps it’s a different approach each time.  Whatever choice I make, I know this:  I can’t let fear win.  I have to Get Started and Keep Going every day.