The importance of facing your fears. One of the best stories about facing fear.
Facing fear sounds all well and good in theory but how do you really do it?
Well, that's a very good question, but it's overlooked by most 'self-help' experts who simply tell you things like 'feel the fear and do it anyway'.
The trouble is, when you're feeling afraid, by definition you don't feel like doing what you need to do!
It's a bit like saying 'feel the drowning and swim anyway'.
Part of the problem with this well intentioned, but rather hopeful, advice is it's asking you to turn away from your fear. To kind of ignore it and just get on with it.
While it sounds all macho and exciting, there's only one problem. It doesn't work. At least not long term.
It doesn't work because it's based on fallacies.
It's telling you that fear is real - it isn't.
It's telling you that action alone conquers fear - it doesn't.
The most important thing is to face the fear.
In fact as you'll learn here, facing fear turns out to be one of the most important things you'll ever do. So it's critical that you understand why it's so useful.
One Of The Great Stories About Facing Fear
There was a town in ancient times which was inside the walls of a large castle. One day a giant stood outside the walls of the town and demanded to fight the champion of the town to the death, for the right to rule over all its people. If no-one came forth the giant promised to destroy the village and everyone living in it.
The people inside the castle walls were very, very afraid. The giant seemed huge and invincible and absolutely terrifying. Surely anyone who fought him was going to a certain death. Even facing the prospect of annihilation of the whole town wasn't enough to inspire anyone to go outside and take him on.
Then a little boy piped up. I'll go he said. His fellow townspeople scoffed at first and then tried to dissuade him when they saw he was serious. Eventually they couldn't dissuade him so they opened the castle gates and pushed him out, before quickly closing and locking them again.
They thought a life of slavery to the giant was preferable to death. Only the little boy knew it wasn't.
So, there he stood. Trembling with his back pressed up against the gates, staring intently at the giant who stood menacingly a short distance away. The little boy was very, very afraid.
Finally he took one step towards the giant, and he thought he noticed something. He took another tentative step and then another, and now he was certain.
The giant was getting smaller.
Gaining courage now, the boy moved steadily towards the giant and with every step the giant became smaller and smaller.
Until, finally the boy was standing right in front of the ex-giant who was now so small, the boy bent down and picked him up in his hands.
Who are you? The boy asked the tiny, trembling creature in his hands.
My name is fear.
Facing fear worked for him didn't it.
Use this story to remind yourself fear always shrinks to virtually nothing when you move towards it.
And there's a perfectly obvious reason for this.
Fear is an illusion.
Like any illusion it simply withers away when you really, really look at it. The problem with humans is we almost never look.
Think about the last cup of coffee you drank. You probably only tasted the first mouthful. At that point a concept arose in the mind. Something like "this is a good cup of coffee" or "I've tasted better cups in my time" for example.
Whatever the concept was, it stopped you from tasting the rest of the cup. From that moment on you weren't drinking a coffee. You were drinking a concept.
Now, you could instead have been perceiving
each mouthful. Perception is where you rely on your senses. So you'd notice the aroma, the temperature, the mouthfeel, the bitterness etc.
In short you'd be awake.
Facing fear is just like that. When you turn to look at the fear, really look at it, you see it's been created by the mind. Only one of many millions and millions of concepts you create.
An interesting thing about perception is that it's limited to what is. Therefore it's measured. Concepts, on the other hand, have no limits. Even the wildly exaggerated and untrue can trouble you when you're lost in your concepts.
Even a mixture of coffee beans and hot water can become something disgusting, and enough to ruin your whole morning.
Likewise butterflies in the stomach can become abject terror of public speaking, the predecessor to a terrible performance and being absolutely disgraced once and for all in front of my peers.
Stick To 'What Is'
So, a good thing to do when facing a fear is to 'lose your mind, and come to your senses'. It's impossible to perceive and conceive at the same time.
Another way to say this might be to stick with 'what is'. Don't give the physical sensations a name like 'my fear of public speaking'. Just face them, feel them, and allow them to be there. They'll go. You'll go on.
I'm not a doctor, but I'm pretty sure butterflies aren't regarded as a life threatening condition.
Facing fear allows you to discover it's not real. What is not real cannot hurt you, and it never could.
Perhaps a good motto is 'face the fear, and it won't be there anyway'.
I'm sure you can face up to nothing.
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