got fear?


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If so, good: it’s a completely natural human response.

Dictionary.com defines fear as “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, or pain.” If we hear suspicious noises in the middle of the night and believe our homes are being burglarized, we experience fear because of potential danger. Or, if a nurse approaches us with a large needle, we’re likely to feel at least a moderate sensation of fear because of potential pain. So far, all of this makes sense. But what if the thing we fear isn’t inherently dangerous, painful, or evil? What if our fears are a bit irrational? Then what? Is this normal? What can we do about it? Well, this is the kind of fear that I’d like to discuss.

I often fear the unknown, experiencing a slight anxiety along with those all-too-familiar feelings of “what if this” or “what if that”…usually expecting the worst. Like other fears, this one doesn’t feel good, nor it is easy to remedy; however, it is possible to fix. In fact, one particular method which really helped conquer my fear of situations ‘unknown’ involved not only facing the fear, but walking right through it. As always, I’ll give you a quick example from my past.

In my early twenties, I was hired as the touring drummer for an Atlanta-based singer; however, this tour wasn’t the kind we’d normally expect. Usually when we think of touring, we imagine groups of people getting on buses, traveling all over the country, and staying away from home for months or years at a time. But this tour was scheduled to be a series of one-offs every weekend (going out of town, doing a single show, and coming right back home)…and we were to fly to each destination.

Well…I’d never flown before, and fear set in.

But I wasn’t about to let this one get the best of me, so I walked right into my fear’s face and bought a round trip ticket to Memphis and back. Alone. 20111124-210435.jpgFor me, this little endeavor was scary stuff, and that fear became more and more real as departure approached: that drive to the airport…that initial walk down the jetway…that first takeoff. The words ‘stressful’ and ‘tense’ don’t even begin to describe how I felt. But I survived, and once back home, I realized that my fears were really just a bunch of normal thoughts blown way out of proportion.

Now, I could have waited until the first tour date to put myself through all of this, but instead, I wanted to kill this beast as soon as I possibly could — which is why I jumped on it right away. Also, doing it all by myself forced me to experience emotions entirely on my own without the distractions (or comfort) of friends or band mates. This particular musical tour would be the first of a great many just like it, and thankfully I never again felt that same fear of flying. My little experiment proved successful, and apparently had permanent effects. It was money well spent.

Another cool side effect is that by facing fears head on, each new fear I discover seems that much easier to dissolve!

Do you have any similar stories?

-Tom

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