When I was a child, I remember being scared of the dark.The fear would literally grip my body, contracting my muscles, send a shiver down my spine, and make the hair on my body stand.
I have felt intense fear at quite a few times in my life. When I was in the 6th standard, I remember being surrounded by some boys from the colony and being ragged for what felt like hours (although it might have actually only been minutes). When I studied for the wrong subject and showed up at the exam hall in my 11th grade! When for the first time I asked a girl for her phone number. When I saw a road accident happen right in front of my eyes for the first time. When placement season came around in MBA school. When l had just started my business and a major client shut down his business with us overnight (for no fault of ours).
Fear is a physical experience.
In physics, there are two types of atomic forces - the strong force and the weak force. The strong force is very strong but only acts over very short distances. It is responsible for the binding of atomic nuclei together. The weak force is extremely weak and is responsible for slow radioactive DECAY.
I believe there are also two types of fear - strong and weak.
All the examples of fear I mentioned above are of the strong variety. Sudden, arising over a short specific period of time, aroused by a particular event or condition, and almost physical in nature. This type of fear is a natural survival instinct that is our inheritance from the times when we had to sense and survive the presence of predators in our environment. All we have to do is FACE THE FEAR, and take a leap forward. In fact the fear actually can give us the strength and motivation to act.
It the ‘weak’ form of fear that concerns me more. This type of fear causes DECAY in our lives. It prevents us from thinking clearly, from taking the right actions, from saying what we feel clearly, from being ourselves, and from breaking out of our comfort zones.
This weak form of fear is like a BACKGROUND NOISE in our subconscious mind. It keeps humming and buzzing without us even realising it. Thats what makes it dangerous - it’s stealth nature. Little do we realise its presence, but it actually IMPRISONS us.
What will people think?
I will be the laughing stock?
My friends will get ahead of me.
Someone else is getting more attention that me.
What if I am a failure and all my dreams are shattered.
I don’t want to upset them, they won’t like me anymore.
These fears are nothing but my IMAGINATION running wild. They are my mind imagining some FUTURE PAIN, that might not actually ever come. It distracts me. It clouds my judgment. I can longer concentrate on what I am doing. The flood of thoughts creates chaos in my head. These fears are like chains that prevent me from living my life completely.
These fears are deadly because they are like a slow POISON, killing us without us even realising.
Here are two strategies I have found to deal with these ‘weak’ fears:
1. SHIFT FOCUS to a strong fear. E.g. forget about what will happen if Im a failure in life, and shift focus on the ‘strong’ fear of the reprimand I will get if I don’t complete today’s homework. If there is no one to reprimand me, I will just introduce a self-inflicted ‘punishment’. e.g. no dinner if I don’t complete today’s work by 8pm! The strong fear takes over and the weak fear gets subdued!
2. Become acutely aware of the chains that bind me. Awareness of the weak fear, magically seems to neutralise the fear. Just acknowledging that the fear exists, verbalising it, writing it down on a piece of paper, drawing it, anything to become aware of it… and the fear seems to slip away. As the gentle morning rays of sunlight slip in through the curtains, the darkness in the room just melts away.
So there you go, two brilliantly strategies to deal with the ‘weak’ poisonous fear in our lives. Do you know of any others methods that worked for you? We would love to hear from you...
With loads of Love and Gratitude,
This from the original article we published on http://dancingwithtigers.com/strong-vs-weak-fear/