What If Today …You Understood and Used Fear?

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“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” ~ Mark Twain

“Happy New Year!”

I have never liked nor understood that phrase nor the goal-setting that is so prevalent in the beginning of any new year.

The motivation to carry out something new, important, or necessary fades. Every time.

I like fear instead. Not the kind created by scary images or imagined disasters if a certain road isn’t taken.

I like the kind that settles in to try to convince me to turn and run even though I’m in the very place I chose to be, doing what I want to do.

  • Note: I’m not talking about bungee-jumping or cliff-diving. The feelings that show up at those times are reminders that we are mortal and there’s no shame in wanting to live!

Never once was I comfortable standing in the wings, waiting for my turn to enter stage right or left. Every single time I swore if I didn’t get to the bathroom in the next minute, I was going to explode. All the hours of preparation, every memorized step and phrase of music flew out the window, promising me complete embarrassment if I dared step out of the darkness and into the bright, exposing lights. And I knew that failure was a real possibility.

I thought that with experience those feelings of discomfort would go away. But they haven’t. I just understand them now.

Over time I repeatedly moved forward every time I was confronted with those feelings even though I wanted to throw up instead. And I never failed. I actually had fun. But more importantly, I’d grown. I’d learned to make decisions that weren’t based in emotions.

The jitters, the over-analyzing, justifying self-talk are signals that I’m having a moment. It’s not a typical moment like the ones that string 24 hours together and weave them into another day. It’s the kind of moment when an unexpected and different pattern is starting to reveal itself, and I’m faced with letting it unfold or disregarding it because it’s different and doesn’t fit with the expected and comfortable pattern I’d been working with.

So, the real “Happy New Year” happens for me as it happens. As I get a thought, and with the thought a choice, I walk into new and unfamiliar territory. Every day. I still can’t stand those uncomfortable jitters or the analytical thoughts. But they tell me that I’m up to new, life-changing things.

And I like that.

(Not really.)


15 thoughts on “What If Today …You Understood and Used Fear?

  1. As an athletic coach, I worried about athletes who did not experience a tad bit of apprehension, butterflies or nervous activation prior to a performance. For me, taking big steps, in athletics or life, are accompanied by that little bit of performance anxiety. It means the body and mind are activated, and that we’re taking nothing for granted. So I guess that’s why the phrase ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ became so popular. And of course, I relate to the ballet experience and beautiful photo. Cheers! Kaarina

    • I wish that the feelings were only related to performing! I feel tem with every new thing that’s stretching me. It’s pretty scary though, or at least it was, to go completely blank and have to hope you’d remember something when needed!
      Thanks for the visit, Kaarina!

  2. For me I find fear in the mundane tasks of life. I stress out over getting the water bill paid, not because I don’t have the money, but because it…actually…no idea, but it stresses me out. I live in a town of 280 people. It is a four hundred yard walk or six block drive to pay the stupid thing. There are other tasks that seem to always get me worked up and after they are done, it was never as bad as it seemed.

    Fear is great because the other side of fear, the accomplishment of battling through, always feels wonderful. I need to make a resolution to get some better fears for 2013. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. What you just said to Aaron… “Funny how some topics just appear.” I feel that, along with the fear, the stomach aching, snapping at people around me, fear…. with each day coming faster than the last. You, Brian, Kaarina and Aaron have all been with me, teaching, giving inspiration and strength to me all along this journey that I am on.
    This is wonderful. Thank you for sharing with us all…

  4. Oh man it was Piano recitals for me..I hated them..I hear what you are saying Betsy..funny what can now that we’re old enough to “know” better, what can cause an all out panic for really no reason. Then after the fact you go what was THAT all about and why..till the next time! See you just let us all know we’re not alone!

    As Always ~*~

    • So you don’t get te jitters any more? I used to play the piano for hours. I’ve been meaning for weeks to re-teach myself…tanks for the reminder. See…friends do that without even meaning to!

  5. I love your comment that you make decisions that aren’t based on emotions. Fear can stop us doing so many things. I have a little mantra that helps me in those times when I am trying to confront the jitters: “If you’re afraid to do it, do it afraid.”
    Wishing you a Happy New Year! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • HA! Perfect, Carolyn. I ask myself all the time, “What’s the alternative if I choose not to (fill in the blanl)?” Sometimes I really like the answer because it feels comfortable. But I’ve noticed that I feel heavier when I choose inaction (out of fear) and the original thought will wear on me forever like a monkey on my back. That’s even worse than the fear! LOL!
      Happy New Year to you too, Carolyn!

  6. I love this, Betsy! Life can be so filled with strong emotions and I know I can often be carried away or overwhelmed by them. And then I have those rare moments when I can feel everything so intensely yet still see through it all oh so clearly, when I can separate my intuition from those emotions. I guess it’s about feeling and facing instead of ignoring. What a great reminder for the new year! ๐Ÿ™‚

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