By Nazia Mallick, Ode Magazine
The major clothing and accessory company Nike, made “Just do it” a motto for their brand promotion, created a business empire out of it and are still laughing all the way to the bank! There is no doubt that it makes a wonderful copy. It has that zingy feeling of boldness when said aloud. Many times we also use it in our normal talks “Okay, just do it dude–just do it mate, come on, just do it!”
However, we say it unthinkingly. We want to believe in it because it feels good to do so. When it comes to actually applying it, we step back. We hold on to the fear of putting our thought into action. “What if it goes wrong? What if I fail? What if I am unable to come out of it?”
These two words “what if” rules our life. Fear always feels like this. Something is wrong. Something is going to be wrong. There is a fear of failure, fear of success, fear of publishing, fear of fame, fear of loss, fear of losing all that we have, fear of change, fear of letting go.
I don’t know about you, but I am often filled with fear about more things than I would care to admit. To mention a few, there is a fear of losing my health and the fear of losing my loved ones. I have often struggled with the fear of letting my work go public, notwithstanding the fear of rejection and putting it all out in public glare, my inner emotions, thoughts, beliefs and qualms. Most of the times when I put my work on public pages, I feel like a boxer in the fighting ring. Putting myself out there for blows of criticism and to be knocked down by rejection.
Sometimes I get these blows and it knocks me down, but I have discovered that the rewards are also many. The kindred feeling of connecting to so many people with my words and living an enlightened life is worth conquering all my fears. I have learnt that it is the working, living and accepting of the fear that helps us to conquer it. We just cannot wish the fear away.
Next: What fear is and three ways to conquer it
What is fear? In its most basic form, fear is about existence. The fact that we exist makes many demands on us and it is quite fearful. The feeling of fear is very physical in nature. It can include: a pounding heartbeat, a hollow feeling in the pit of the stomach, sensations of shakiness, sweatiness and sometimes a severe headache.
Fear of life shows up in many ways. One form of fear is when a person refuses to commit to anything in life and goes on seeking new beginnings. Another type of fear involves undertaking dangerous activities such as fast driving, drug abuse, reckless sex and excessive drinking. The feelings of fear are transformed into seeking thrills and constant highs.
On the other hand there are some who take no risk in life and prefer to live a constricted and insipid life. “Safety first” becomes their maxim and they never get to live life to its maximum capacity. The fear makes them a detainee of their own narrow vision. They are afraid to marry, to fall in love, to leave a dead marriage, to have children, to try a new job. A strictly conventional, well mapped out path is what they seek to fight their fears.
We all have felt fear at some stage in our lives. We agree that fear is one of the most unpleasant emotions to feel, but to choose a life that is put into a straight jacket of absolute safety is about choosing a diminished life. What is important is awareness of fear and to let it surface instead of suppressing it. We feed fear a very nutritious diet when we suppress it. It thrives on the high protein of suppression. If we make fear our friend by facing it, then we could find that within its miserable and incapacitating refuge, there hides the transformational opposites: Excitement and courage.
Courage or excitement is not about fighting with a deadly shark in the middle of an ocean or holding live snakes in your hands. It is about facing the stark reality of life with strength and conviction, despite the fact that we all have this tendency to shift quickly to our “lower self.” That weakened space within us that is filled with negative emotions such as, anxiety, judgment, feelings of scarcity and helplessness. But getting over fear is all about getting past these negative emotions and to listen to that that nurturing voice, which says, “It’s okay to make mistakes, it’s okay to feel fear. Go ahead and do it anyway.”
Actress Nicole Kidman once confessed in an article “Success, I think breeds fear. You suddenly say, ‘Oh can I do it again?’ And once you start to ask questions like that you throw your creativity into a wrong sphere. So you just have to walk away from it. I’ve said, ‘Ok that was that year, and next year is going to be completely different.’”
Like many emotions in life, fear too operates in a cycle. Our body and mind are part of one system and what occurs in the body essentially affects the mind and vice versa. It is important to recognize fear, accept it and then make a conscious effort to break it.
Here are three ways to break the cycle of fear:
- Physical exercise is a powerful tool to combat fear. I find slow exercise such as a long walk can be very effective in reducing my symptoms of fear. It needs to be done long enough to allow the body to get into its natural rhythm. Some of us need the force of competitive sport or dancing to fast music to deal with fear. Anything is better than crouching on the bed or sitting slumped in a chair.
- Psychological means help a lot in fighting fear. Much of “that sinking feeling” is about subconsciously exaggerating our responses to fear. Often it turns out that our fears are baseless. It is important to understand the nature of threat and what the fear really represents and manage it consciously.
- The third way is to holistically combine the physical and psychological means to let the mind become free of obsessive thoughts about fear. A combination of breathing exercises and physical activity helps to break this cycle.
Giving yourself the permission to make mistakes is the first step in conquering fear. Accepting and working with fear is the key to getting past it. We need to understand fear, rather than run away or control it. It means watching fear, learning about it and coming directly in contact with it. You have to keep moving, keep dealing with all the fears in the best possible ways, until you conquer most of them to lead a healthy and empowered life.
Mahatma Gandhi said: “The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear.”
Slay this enemy.