We are all afraid at some point. Some more than others. It is what we do with that fear that counts. Don't let it beat you into submissions, make it work for you not against you.
Standing Toe to Toe with Fear So You Can Walk Hand in Hand with Triumph.
Our fears can at times threaten to disable us, put us down, keep us back and a whole load of more negative reactions. The same fear that shackles us also shows itself in many different forms such as “I can’t train I have leg cramps”, “I am giving that job interview a miss, what with this flu I am liable to make myself worse,” and of course “I could do it, I just don’t want to.” All reasons why we fail…and all reasons why we should succeed.
We should argue with these negative impact statements until we are blue in the face, recognising them for the charade that they are. They are just fear by any other name. Before the reader cries foul and rises up in arms against your humble writer (I usual get things thrown at me such as ‘it is easy for you, you are a black belt’ or ‘yes but you have achieved all you set out to achieve’ (not true, not by a long stretch,) please listen to my brief tale of a long journey with fear as my accomplice. Then we can get to your fears and how you can knock them out of the park.
I started life as a victim (I detest that word as it dis-empowers us but for now it will have to do until I can think of a better one). I was the victim of bullies because I knew no better, I did not know I could stand up for myself. As the victims grew so did their level of ‘physical’ and I became violently assaulted. At sixteen a youth threatened to cut my life short literally; he threatened to cut me open with a carving knife and end me. I was lucky, I escaped but the nightmares that followed were almost as traumatic as the even itself.
Cue agoraphobia. So far this doesn’t make for pleasant reading does it? Don’t worry, it gets better…eventually. Practically living in my house twenty-four hours a day bought its own toll and my loneliness was compounded by panic attacks. I waited for a saviour and the two arrived at almost the same time. My future wife Julie and martial arts. Julie had faith in me but we needed a vehicle for my fear. We needed a salvation and here is where martial arts came in.
I am going to cut a possibly long story short here as this has been well documented before (From Bullied to Black Belt, F.E.A.R., Dipping Your Toes in the Water to name but a few), but the truth is I was good at it. I surprised myself and my loved ones for having a flair fighting and given my past this was indeed a surprise.
So putting the physical aside I realised that no matter how capable I was I was still afraid. In fact, more than ever because now I had success people watched me closely. Some watched to share my success but some watched from the mask of envy, desperate for me to fail and herein lies another surprise and one I hope you the reader will embrace. I used their jealousy as fuel. They drove me on. Having been an abject failure I was determined not to return to the wimpy kid and every success I had put more metaphorical muscle on my skinny frame.
“Who are you to be a black belt?” I was asked. “I am Simon Morrell,” I would reply calmly. Now again before you cry, “arrogance!” nothing could be further than the truth for inside I shook with doubt. I just learnt to hide it well, to counter the naysayers both external and internal. Every time a task was put in front of me, be it a full contact fight, teaching a seminar, later on writing and appearing in the press plus receiving awards (yes, these things all bring their own fears) I would way up the good, bad and the ugly. I think the Walls St people call it risk versus reward.
Here is where you come in. Whatever your fears versus your dreams you can make them go hand in hand. I don’t promise it will be easy but then again most things worth having aren’t. I’ll give to a couple of examples to which you can put your own spin, tailor them to make them compatible with your own situation.
You see your neighbour driving the car that should be yours? By the way, there is nothing wrong with materialistic as long as it doesn’t become your God. Well not only is that neighbour driving your BMW he is driving it to the job that you should have. “Why? It isn’t fair,” you tell yourself. You know you are as talented as him/her and it is only right you get your chance. So ask again ‘why?’
I’ll tell you why. Because he or she endured the sleepless nights bought on by fear of failure leading up to the interview. He or she hid the butterflies that were now alligators in their bellies come the morning of the interview. Whilst you huddled down to nurse that sudden flu, they blew their noses, grabbed tissue for the journey, put the cold on hold and made it to the arena, in this case the office where the interview was held.
Their mind did not go blank at the questions because for the three weeks prior to this day they studied had, long hours preparing for the interrogation whilst you looked inwards for the excuse that always came.
Do I sound harsh? Good, I am supposed to because I talk from an empirical point of view. I have been there many times. Believe me I do not mean to insult you personally but nobody, I mean nobody has made more excuses to avoid and therefore encourage failure than me.
The slight snow fall that prevented me from attending an instructor’s course that would have made me a qualified boxing coach and been my first official step forward? What snow? It was a bit of light dandruff from the sky that a kid on a sleigh could have got through.
The seventeen stone monster that would ‘give it to me’ when I was eventually brave enough to attend a dojo. Yep, his fault I kept getting headaches every time I saw his car parked outside the training facility. So of course I had to go home and rest. A nice sidebar to this story is that when I eventually got to grips with my fear and just got on with it, I beat him, supressed him and eventually went on to teach him.
So we have to address doubt and fear, face it in two ways. Slowly, slowly by taking baby steps toward and through it or just throw caution to the wind and smash it to bits. Either way is good.
Do you want to write a bestseller but fear ridicule? Fear not that ridicule fear what will happen to the doubters once they see your book on Amazon or hear you on the radio for the first time for their small mindedness will be their undoing whilst you will drive to your victory in the car you dreamt of.
The people who prop up the bar and laugh at your struggle as you strive for success? Spare them a thought and let them be with their beer and spirits as you reach your goal, achieve it and set another one. Nothing tastes sweeter than a hard earnt victory but nothing so sour as a drink taken through a scowl.
Every time negativity starts to rear its head unsheathe your sword a slay it. Both external negativity and your own (usually very powerful) doubts. Let your sword be positive thoughts and let your shield be positive self-talk. You will need encouraging voices for your journey but those very same encouraging voices have to start with your own no matter how we wish otherwise. If you see what you want, be it a job, a recording contract or a place in a gallery then measure your name against it and you will realise you match up
Embrace your fear and use it as fuel. Don’t look the other way when it comes, stand toe to toe with it for only then can you dance with triumph.
Simon is the author of the true story From Bullied to Black Belt. You can visit him here