Why Are You Afraid?

March 27, 2018

Lying in the pitch-black, with the sound of my own breathing as my only company, I thought...

 

"What are you scared of?"

 

Social humiliation.

 

Failure.

 

Success.

 

Within the tank, these immediate fears reared their ugly heads. Common fears which many have overcome, but they scare me the most.

 

 

 

 

 

"Why are you afraid of these?"

 

My thoughts swam as I floated on top of the salt-infused water.

 

 

Social humiliation.

 

Everyone is afraid of social humiliation. As humans, there is an innate social hierarchy which predetermines our status. We work hard to ascend the ladder as time passes, with each raise, social interaction and accomplishment adding another rung under our boot.

 

The last thing we want to do is start over.

 

We care a lot, often too much, of what people think of us. For some reason, we care what people who have never even met us think. 

 

It comes down to people's perceptions of you defining your identity, then you acting in a way congruent to this. If people treat you with respect, you will feel like a respected member of society and act the part - standing tall and making eye contact. The opposite occurs when you are treated like dirt; your identity becomes dirt.

 

Being socially humiliated can affect one's identity so profoundly, it's frightening. 

 

It's fair to be afraid.

 

The world is becoming more socially interconnected, and with that, it's easier to be put in the spotlight. Especially if it doesn't go to plan. 

 

But other's have overcome the fear... so why haven't you?

 

Failure.

 

Failure is the hardest thing a man can come to grips with. That his efforts weren't good enough. That he, himself, isn't up to the task. 

 

Combining failure with a socially connected world is scary. The thoughts of social humiliation become real when failure is a possibility.

 

This begs the question, "is it worth the risk?"

 

Failure is often seen as binary. You either won or lost. We know this is not the case, as some failures can lead to future success. But, in the present tense, not being good enough is a hard bite to swallow. 

 

When failure is a possible future, how do you proceed? 

 

A) Do you burn your bridges and lay it all on the table? Go all in?

 

B) Or do you hesitantly test the waters, dipping a toe in?

 

Either way, failure can still occur. In most cases it's more likely in option B, which is the option most of us will take, tiptoeing around the edges trying not to make any waves.

 

It's understandable to fear failure, but that fear may cause it to happen. It take's an almighty amount of courage to charge forwards. To know that by doing so will increase the chance of success.

 

A man who can conquer his failure is the epitome of strength.

 

 

Success.

 

Success is a weird thing to be scared of since it's what most of us are striving for. It's a combination of the fears of social humiliation and failure, with the question, "am I good enough?"

 

Often the thought of success can get into your head. All of the 'what-ifs' condensing into a smouldering stream of consciousness which undermines your actions.

 

Fear comes from the unknown. Success, for most of us, is undefined in its nature. The best we can come up with is some comparisons to other people we see as successful. This is counter-productive, as your true vision on success will look very different to theirs. They are probably asking the very same questions you are.

 

In defining success we may be able to break it down into its relative parts - financial, social, mental, physical etc. - and understand what we are truly aiming for. Your success will look different to my success. That doesn't mean it's more or less successful, just different.

 

When our beliefs, actions and identity are all in line with our personal success, it becomes less of a 'fear' and more of an 'aspiration'.

 

It becomes your purpose. 

 

 

"How can you overcome these fears?"

 

 

  • Surround yourself with people who will support you in whatever you do, and don't give a single thought towards what everyone else thinks.

  • Master yourself. Your emotions, perceptions, feelings and actions. You are in complete control of your reality.

  • Don't let others perceptions of you change your identity. Develop a filter and strong sense of self-awareness.

  • Don't try and please everyone.

  • Define success on your own terms.

  • Go all in on your goal. "You gotta risk it to get the biscuit."

  • Make tasks so small you can't fail.

  • Stop comparing yourself to other people. You are on your own journey.

  • You cannot control the past or the future. Only the present.

 

Ah, the wonders of a float. If you haven't tried one before, I highly recommend it.

 

Thinking about questions which you never really get the chance to find an answer to opens up so many avenues of possibility.

 

 

 

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Michael Gostelow - Personal Trainer

30 Pitt St. Sydney, 2000

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