Believe in the Power of Fear

I am a big believer in doing what you are scared of. As I watch my 12-month-old crawl around the house with absolutely no sense of fear, it strikes me as obvious that this is how human beings grow and develop awareness of their surroundings – because she isn’t scared of attempting the monumental flight of stairs that rise up before her, or knows not to make the descent off the end of the bed head first, Lily gets on with things and learns valuable lessons, such as balance, concentration, focus and so on. If she was paralysed by fear she would never attempt anything new and would stagnate at the toddler stage of development forever.

As we mature, life delivers a series of (often harsh) lessons that alter the course of our behaviour. We experience something horrible, a memory is created and the next time something similar arises we are naturally cautious. This, together with an increasing sense of mortality, can bring us to a point where we fail to try anything new or remotely scary.

Over the last few years, the events that have frightened me the most are as follows; childbirth, skydiving, flying (particularly taking off and landing) and stopping drinking.

skydiving

I think you can see where I am going with this – every one of these situations ultimately brought me nothing but immense joy and satisfaction, together with a huge step forward in my personal development. I have only ever known true fear when facing what turned out to be the highlights of my life.

As both my pregnancies approached their natural conclusions I was overwhelmed with a morbid sense of terror regarding the perceived pain and potential medical complications. As the tiny Cessna aircraft climbed to the 10,000 feet drop point, I thought I would literally die with fright – I was utterly petrified and the only reason I actually managed to make the jump was because I was strapped to a man who was clearly going to ignore any protestations on my part about falling two miles to the ground in a matter of minutes.

The biggie for me was facing my fear of sobriety. For reasons which now appear ridiculous, I was scared to death about living my life free from the grip of addiction; terrified of living with clarity and self-awareness, unsure of whom I would be without the stupidity and boring behaviour brought about by my reckless binge drinking. I had a deep sense of foreboding that my life was on the brink of collapse, and that I was facing the rest of my days bored and ascetic, a shadow of my former self.

Fear is there to be faced and overcome. Nowadays whenever something frightens me and my stomach becomes filled with that familiar knot, I remind myself that only good things have ever been born from my fears. I dig deep for courage and just do it.

And with each episode of terror I conquer, my life only gets better.

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12 thoughts on “Believe in the Power of Fear

  1. pauln2901 says:

    It took me thirty years to finally do a skydive. I too, was grey with fear, but a few minutes after jumping I was on a huge adrenalin high. I have done it again since and organised jumps for others.
    As, with you, I have much more fear of becoming boring and permanently grey and unexciting, by giving up the booze. Even though, when I do drink, it is usually through boredom and depression. Any tips on how to start?

    • Hi Paul, thanks for your comments. Tips for stopping drinking; I would read Jason Vale’s book ‘Kick the Drink…Easily!’ or Jack Trimpey’s book ‘Rational Recovery’ – both excellent for rewiring your brain and opening your eyes to how addiction works and how you can overcome it fairly easily once you are more aware. I would consider sobriety as a massive lifestyle change – go into it with the notion that you are actively changing yourself and your life for the better, and be committed to that idea. Don’t try and stop drinking and remain the same – you’ll just slip back into old habits. Join in the conversations on Soberistas and read around the site (www.soberistas.com if you haven’t already joined – it’s free) about how other people have conquered alcohol dependencies and found a much happier way of life since. Find alternative pastimes for your evenings so that the boredom doesn’t hit – running and writing work for me, as do watching films, playing board games and reading. Set yourself a goal unrelated to drinking – doing a short course in something, or training for a 10k – whatever you enjoy doing but try and insert something concrete to aim for in your near future; it will help take your mind off the denial voice for a while (over time it will subside). Hope that helps – good luck! Lucy

      • pauln2901 says:

        Thanks Lucy. I already have Jason Vale’s book ‘Kick the Drink…Easily!’, and have found it’s non-disease approach very enlightening. (Are you sure you’re not on commission? Lol.) Seriously, it is a very good read and strikes a chord. I will also find Jack Trimpey’s book ‘Rational Recovery’, and read that.
        Many thanks for your helpful reply. I have found the site very helpful. Please keep all the good work.

  2. I totally relate to this. I was scared – and still am really – that sobriety will reveal some side of me that I don’t like. That sober living will be unbearably raw and hard to deal with. That I’ll have no place to hide and no way off turning everything off when I need some escapism. But I try not to think about that. Just focusing on getting 100 days under my belt at the moment.

    • Hi and thanks for your comment – I know exactly what you mean. I was terrified of myself when I first stopped drinking. Why I do not know because I have only proved to myself over and over again that I am actually ok and have a lot going for me, not least my sense of optimism, which is surprising when I think back to what a pessimist I used to be! Have you read Jason Vale’s book? You can find it on the Books section of http://www.soberistas.com – if you haven’t read it I would highly recommend it for these first few months. Well done for getting this far and best wishes for the future. I promise you that time really helps with this so stick with it! Lucy x

  3. I can relate – the fear of continuing to drink outweighed the fear of not drinking. And that took me a long time to get to. Fear inhibits us so often in our lives that we get stuck in a rut. Like your child, she has no fear (yet) because she doesn’t know what not having fear is like. And so she forges on. We all were like that, and then we began to experience things that burned us and we recoiled. I still have things I fear…absolutely. I can’t overcome these things on my own, and even then, it takes TIME…at least for this alcoholic scaredy cat 🙂

    Great post – loved how you were able to skydive. Wow. I don’t see that in my near or long-term future, but I think it’s very courageous how you did that.

    Blessings,

    Paul

  4. Lou says:

    I can relate. I was utterly terrified of having my eyes lasered, but I now have 20:20 vision from being v short sighted; and giving up alcohol. Now I’ve read Jason’s book I don’t know what’s was so scared of. I feel so excited about all the new possibilities that now lie before me. X

    • Hi that’s great, so good to read how positive you are feeling. The fear was all imagined for me – in the actual event of giving up drinking I have experienced nothing but positivity and happiness. Thanks for your comment, and keep going – sounds like you are doing great! Lucy x

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