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Not being afraid

'Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are our own fears.' Rudyard Kipling

There are many things to fear in this world. We generally ignore those until they happen.

If, like me, you come up with loads of other things to be scared about, all the time, take heart: you can’t be brave unless you’ve been afraid first.

Some people have an inner critic, mine buddies up with my inner doomsayer. Together they can make me dread myself and almost everything else. They make really stupid suggestions. Here's a small sample of stuff I shouldn't have been scared of but was/am:

  • Spontaneous combustion (lying still in bed so that I didn’t create friction, too scared to sleep).

  • The creation of a real-world Nyarlathotep through worship of Lovecraft’s fictional version by Mythos fans.

  • Everybody I know loathing me and only being sweet to me because they have impeccable manners.

  • Meeting my doppelganger and me being the one who has to die to restore balance to the universe.

  • Cow rage.

  • Other people’s boogers.

  • That my writing is bad as Eric Morecambe’s piano playing for Andre Previn. (All the right words, not necessarily in the right order).

From a distance, I can laugh at silly, but my anxieties are not my friends. Given the chance, they’ll shout down logic and smother creativity. If I were to let them take charge, I wouldn’t take any risks, and anything worth doing has an element of risk involved. I’d never get out of bed (and I’d be lying really still).

Everything I really want to do is also a bit scary. Here are a few ways I try to be a bit bolder:

  • Naming that horror, saying it aloud. It’ll shrink outside in the light.

  • Pretending that I’m not afraid, behaving as though I am not, doing the thing that I’d do if I was not, until I am not.

  • Regularly and deliberately doing things which I’m nervous about, and which I might regret never attempting.

  • Telling myself that I’m only exploring, playing and I can go back to comfy whenever I like.

  • When collywobbles attack: remembering the times that I carried on regardless and the excellent consequences.

I don’t think I’ll ever stop being afraid, but I hope I can, with practice, mind it less and less.

'To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.' Bertrand Russell

'He who has overcome his fears will truly be free.' Aristotle

Thanks to Tony Gaitskell for the pic.

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