What are you afraid of?

We all have fears. Some are ones we might never share with another individual. Others we have no issue with telling the world about because in some ways it bonds us with others. Somehow over time our list of fears seemingly add up, and for those few of you out there that are daredevils and are willing to do and try anything, I bet there is still something that you are afraid of.

What is your greatest fear? I cannot necessarily say that I have decided what my greatest fear is, but I can tell you that I am absolutely petrified of snakes. Whether I see a small garter snake in the grass, or I am watching a movie with a massive snake I quake just a bit in my skin (okay not a bit, a lot). It does not matter where I am, I do not want to ever interact with a snake. Which means that on a hike, or even out for a run I will literally freak out if I encounter a snake. Forget looking at them at the zoo behind the glass, they still give me the hibbie jibbies. Maybe my fear is because they are so unpredictable, or they have a way of being sly and then striking. I have always been scared of them.

Your fears might be of talking in front of others, or the dark, or traveling on a plane. Sometimes our fears are because of something that has happened in our life, or because of something that has happened to someone we know. Other times our fears are about anticipation. We dream up all these potential scenarios of what could happen, or what should happen, and in reality we make it all up in our head. I am not sure if I can ever get over my fear of snakes, but I do know I probably make a bunch of crap up that keeps me afraid (the self-fulfilling cycle of fear).

Michelle Poler decided to not let her amassing fears overtake her life. She decided to live for 100 Days Without Fear. Take a peek at her website, where she posts videos that show her doing what she is afraid of. It is inspiring, and well I am not doing so well because I had to quickly scan past the video of her holding a massive snake. She did look slightly in pain doing it! So, what are you afraid of that you could maybe overcome?

Anticipation is worse than our fears…

I am sure each and every one of you have had a moment where you were terrified. You have that “I am going to shit my pants” nervous feeling. Somehow whatever scared you happened, the moment passed, and you went on with your life. Yet, you can remember that terrifying moment. You will never forget it. All the details might begin to fade, but the crucial time stays in your memory forever.

After reading this Fast Company article, “How to be a Success at Everything: The Art and Science of Building Confidence Under Pressure” I got to thinking about anticipation, see this excerpt from the article (bold sections are my own emphasis):

Stress builds when we are waiting for something to happen. ‘Our anticipation is so much worse than doing the thing you’re afraid of,’ she observes. Instead of procrastinating so much that you lose sleep, take apart the situation, think it over logically and get it over with as soon as possible. ‘You are going to survive this,’ Williams says. Stress can be a great thing, she says, because it signals that you are doing something challenging.”

My guess is that a large part of the time when we have a moment that we are terrified, it is the anticipation that makes us freaked out. Once we get through the heat of the moment, and we look back and say “that was not as bad as a I thought it would be.” You might even go back and decide to do it all over again, no longer afraid. Anticipation allows us to dream, ponder, and potentially agonize over what may, could, should happen so that when the moment actually happens we have processed all the woulda, shoulda, coulda responses. It makes us feel safer. Rather than go into a terrifying moment blind, anticipation makes us feel like we are slightly more prepared.

Is it all a waste of time? Are we more prepared? I think it is good to have the oh shit moments once in a while. It keeps us on our toes, and leaves us feeling more alive. What do you think?