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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Pushing through fear: Freedom of letting go

Whether it is interviewing for a dream job, competing for the big prize or in the big race/event, starting out in new city, getting the courage to ask out someone who intrigues you or any other such circumstance, each has at least one aspect in common.   Typically each of these involves some degree of uncertainty or fear.  Each involves stepping outside our comfort zone.   Each involves risking 'failure' or allowing vulnerability of a sort and the shame or discomfort that comes along with it.  We could freeze up, we could fail or perform miserably, we fall on our face, we could face an uncomfortable or awkward rejection, etc.  In short, we could feel a portion or a full measure of shame, discomfort or humiliation when we try.  Just like there are people who seem to enjoy or thrive on pain, I suppose there are people who ride the humiliation train back to the station to 'feel alive'.  However, most people I know don't enjoy those feelings.

I will follow-up this blog with another one called, "It's true: Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose..." as I realized there really is a certain freedom when you hit rock bottom.  But, for the moment, I will focus on when we still have something to lose and how to deal with the fear.  I've learned over the years multiple strategies in dealing with it, some better than others.
  • Self-talk
    • Tell yourself that more often than not, the worse case scenario is just that.  That is to say, highly unlikely to happen.
      • When I tandem sky-dived, I told myself that the instructor wanted to go back home that day too.  That is to say, I wasn't the first anxious person to sky-dive and that he knew what he was doing and was going to do his best to minimize any risk I could pose.
      • I have a bit of fear of drowning. When I snorkeled for the first time in the open water away from the boat, I was nervous.  However, I realized it wasn't as if I struggled too much that the crew would just let me drown.  
    • Talking through and eliminating the unrealistic.
      • When I lose something around the house or in my car, I remind myself that it didn't just fly out the window when I was driving.  In other words, it's not gone forever, but just lost.
      • That even if you think an interview goes poorly, interviewers normally don't ridicule you to your face, take you out back and shoot you or call your current boss and tell him to fire you for being an unmitigated interview disaster. 
    • Tell yourself that people don't die of humiliation and that a lot of time the humiliation you feel is emanating from you than being projected at you. 
  • Studying (or preparing)
    • The more you prepare for a big step, big move or a big competition, the less you leave up to chance.  That is the less uncertainty you have.
      • If you do your research about a company and the role or position you are interviewing for, you go in less likely to get surprised during the interview.
      • If you research the different aspects of a city that you are moving to, you have an better idea what to expect when you actually get there.
      • If you study what is important to the object of your interest and focus on developing a rapport with her, you can better acclimate her to you.  That is to say subconsciously she could picture herself with you.
    • The more you realistic your preparation, the more you can you see yourself with a positive outcome.
      • For example, when racing, I did both speed training and distance training.  Short interval speed training allowed myself to acclimate (and picture) running faster than usual.  Distance training made me confident that I could readily run the race distance.
      • Traveling to and around and staying in a new city before the big move, can help you to picture the daily routine around of it--where to shop, what roads to take, etc.
  • Self-denial
    • This is where in your mind, you minimize the actual risk.
    • Sometimes, if we accepted what the actual risk was, it would keep us from doing what we need to.  Self-deception can move us to a point in which we engage in 'fearful' behavior by pretending there is no reason to be concerned.
    • Ignorance may not be bliss, but in the right circumstance it can be freeing.  If you don't realize the risk until the fact, then you haven't given yourself a chance to worry about it.
  • Slight 'recklessness'
    • Sometimes there is a definitive fear or risk no matter how much you have prepared, tried to reason your way out of the fear or deny the risk.  You just have to make a decision to step out and jump off the diving board, hoping that there is water below.
    • Sometimes you have to jump out of that plane with a parachute, imaging that the chute WILL open just like it always has done without fail, time and time previously.
  • Straitjacket
    • Sometimes boxing yourself into a necessary choice is a painful but effective way of dealing.
    • If the choices that you leave yourself are worse, then you leave yourself 'no choice' but to take the chance.
    • When I sky-dived, I let everyone that mattered to me know that I was going to.  I took someone with me who had done it before and was likely to hold my feet to the fire and think less of me if I chickened.  I drove to a location a few hours out, thereby making a return trip back home too humiliating if I had 'chickened out'.  In short, the cost in shame, humiliation and money was too much for me to stomach.  So, I took the 'easy' way out and did the jump.
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I guess my takeaway from this blog post is that sometimes you just have to find a way to push through the fear.  Sometimes you can talk yourself through it, sometimes you can fool your way through it, sometimes prepare your way through it, sometimes you can just decide to do it anyway and some times you can 'shame' yourself through it.  But, ultimately in life sometimes we just have to find a way to push past the fear and let go.