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May 7, 2013

I almost didn’t write tonight.  I was feeling tired and uninspired.  So this post is a bit of a cheat, as I’m going to share something I didn’t write.  In the past month or so I’ve been getting a blog by Seth Godin in my inbox each morning.  To be honest, I don’t really know that much about Seth Godin.  I first read some of his stuff posted by people I follow on Twitter.  Then I visited the web-page and started following his daily posts.  They generally have a business/organizational slant.  Some days as I read them I think about how they reflect or apply to the place I work.  But this morning, the blog spoke to me on a much deeper level.  Today’s Seth Godin blog post, which I’ve included below, was all about fear.  What he says is true, we avoid so much in life because we fear feeling fear.

Like I said, I read the post this morning.  Then I spent pretty much the entire day, with an half composed e-mail.  In this case, I wasn’t afraid of feeling fear, but I was afraid of the response I would get to inviting someone for breakfast while I was spending a few days in the city where they work.  But as day drew to an end, and the e-mail remained half-written, I reminded myself that I wasn’t going to avoid an opportunity due to fear.  I don’t know yet what will happen with the breakfast invitation.  But really that wasn’t the hurdle I needed to get paste.  Sending out the e-mail, opening up the possibilities and uncertainties associated with getting to know someone was the challenge for me.  Similar to what Seth says, I wasn’t afraid of having breakfast with someone new, I was afraid of asking them to have breakfast.

How is fear getting in your way of experiencing life?   (Reminder “Stop being Afraid” was #19 in the list of things to stop doing in your twenties).

Sky Report: blue skies

Yarn Strands: the two blues

Avoiding fear by indulging in our fear of fear

Every day, we make a thousand little compromises, avoid opportunities, actions and people–all so that we can stay away from the emotion of fear.

Note that I didn’t say, “so we can stay away from what we fear.” No, that’s something else entirely. Right now, most of us are avoiding the things that might merely trigger the emotion itself. That’s how distasteful it is to us.

The alternative? To dance with it. To seek out the interactions that will trigger the resistance and might make us uncomfortable.

Are we trying to avoid the unsafe? Or merely the feeling of being unsafe? Increasingly, these are completely different things.

Due to ‘enhanced security’ a recent bike event in New York City forbade the 30,000 riders from carrying hydration packs. No practical reason, just the desire to avoid fear.

The upcoming exam doesn’t get studied for, not because studying is risky, but because studying reminds us that there’s a test coming up.

We loudly keep track of all the failures of commission around us, but never mention the countless failures of omission, all the mistakes that were made by not being bold. To track those, to remind ourselves of the projects not launched or the investments not made is to encounter our fear of forward motion. (So much easier to count typos than it is to mention the paragraphs never written.)

There’s no other reason for not having a will, a health proxy, an insurance policy or an up to date checkup. Apparently, while it’s not risky to plan for our demise, it generates fear, which we associate with risk, and so we avoid it.

It’s simple: the fear that used to protect us is now our worst enemy.

Easier to avoid the fear than it is to benefit from living with it. I’ve heard the quote a thousand times but never really thought it through…


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