Since I’ve spent most of my life courting fear as an acrobat in freestyle skiing, cliff diving, stunt acting and I love riding the biggest baddest motorbikes I can sling my leg over, (for those who know, my current ride is a Benelli TnT 1130) you would think I am either crazy or fearless or both, but oh contraire.
Real fear is necessary in keeping me safe. That’s why I give way to trucks and don’t assume they can see me, even if I do have the right away. Just after I finished the Freestyle World Cup circuit in 1988, I stopped jumping, because I was overcome with fear I was going to land on my head and break my neck. It has happened in the sport, but actually it’s quite rare. The fear kept me out of the sport for a year, until I shared my dirty little secret with my sister, Lisa. She spoke to a NLP practitioner who simply said, “it’s good to be scared it will keep him safe.” When my sister relayed the comment, it was like a switch was turned off, and I went back to jumping. I guess in my earlier career I took a few unnecessary risks that caused injury, but that simple statement repeated was enough to have confidence in my experience and I had no reason to jump unless I was 100% happy with the conditions. A good stunt actor has fear and does what ever it takes to minimise the dangers to be safe.
Overcoming fear, real or imagined is such a rush.
When I was a little kid, my Dad asked me to go over to his office to get some files for him. The office was next door to our house, but it was night and Dad, being a Chiropractor had pictures of skeletons and even a real spine from some poor dead woman. I was terrified, but I didn’t want the fear to rule my life because rationally at 8 years old I knew there was nothing there to harm me, but I would go over to the office and as quickly as I could turn on all the lights get what I had to, turn off all the lights and run back. Sometimes I thought I was so fast the rooms didn’t even get dark before I bolted out. I screamed all the way there and back, not out loud, just inside my head.
I was once told FEAR means False Evidence Appearing Real. This is the bad fear. The fear that might stop you getting up in front of a crowd because you might be laughed at, or stop you making the sales call for being rejected, or asking someone out, or making a documentary, or arriving at a party too early, or being too young or too old etc etc…. In situations like these, I believe I am a fatalist. I look at my fears and ask myself, “what’s the worst that can happen?” Someone laughs at me, or someone I don’t even know doesn’t like me. I was told once, if people aren’t laughing at your goals, you’re not dreaming big enough. So I am not going to break a leg, or die, just feel a bit of humiliation. Big deal!
I never ever want my fears to rule my life, but I want to understand what I am afraid of and respect that.
And if you have some fear tackling your health dreams or anything consider reading Dr Suess’ “Oh Places You’ll Go” I read it to my boy as often as possible. It was actually his last book that he wrote and it’s not really for kids, probably a self expression, but it’s one of the best personal development books ever. If you can’t be bothered getting the book check out the spoken version from the Burning Man Festival 2011.
This blog originally featured on the Changing Habits website.