In Halloween spirit: Fighting fear with fear – When the scarecrow confronts his nightmare
written by Kent Healy
⇒28 Oct 2011
Uncommon: Halloween is an event of intrigue. A brief look into its history reveals many mysteries and myths. One such legend got me thinking…
It’s said that come the end of harvest season, as they prepared for the coming winter and the potential wrath it could bolster, some European communities dressed in intimidating garb and pranced through the night to cast away sinister spirits from their villages. It was a scarecrow communion of the spirit world.
Read into this objectively and you’ll see that these farmers and villagers were fighting off fear with fear. It’s an interesting strategy, primarily because it’s contrary to many modern methods used to address fear.
“Focus on your strengths, your victories, and your support group to build your self-esteem,” we’re told. “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” This advice does have merit, but it often overshadows an equally effective strategy. Let me explain…
Every first fear, has a surprising twin
Countless well-meaning people paralyze themselves in the face of fear due to the misguided notion that inaction always lessens risk. But in the pursuit of an uncommon life, this is very rarely the case. Our fear-induced responses are a survival tool, but these knee-jerk responses are not an effective instrument for constructing a fulfilling life.
So how should you deal with a fear the ‘Hallowed way’? By first realizing that every paralyzing fear has a paradoxical twin with a propensity to encourage action. In other words, initial feelings of fear are most often associated with focusing on the worst-case scenario, but there is always a flipside; a ‘Hallowed fear’ in this case:
Paralyzing fear: If I start a business I will fail.
Hallowed fear: If I don’t try to start a business I know my inaction will haunt me for the rest of my life.
Both situations produce fear. Only one leads to action. Some more examples:
Paralyzing fear: If I write my book people might laugh at my ideas and my efforts.
Hallowed fear: If I don’t write my book, I have destroyed the opportunity to impact others and pursue a possible new life path.
Paralyzing fear: If I ask her on a date, she might reject me.
Hallowed fear: If I don’t ask her on a date, I’ll always wonder how a possible ‘yes’ might have changed my life forever.
Fear is inevitable; the outcome is not
Regardless of our self-esteem, track record, or praise we may receive, a potentially ‘paralyzing fear’ will almost always rear its ugly head when pursuing any worthwhile goal. Yes, fear is still experienced by the best of us. But this initial fear need not seal our fate. We decide which fear (paralyzing or hallowed) will determine our next move.
Thus, the consequences and potential usefulness of fear depend wholly on what fear is most real to us: The worst-case scenario of taking action or the potential loss due to inaction. The former leads to idleness, but the latter leads to experimentation.
Fear may not be the ideal motivating force, but it is an unavoidable emotion. Successful people merely emphasize consequences of sloth rather than potential mistakes of ambition. Fear of inaction should always be more terrifying than consequences stemming from fear of action.
So… when going head to head – a fear of the worst-case scenario versus a fear of missing out as a result of inaction – which one triumphs? Which fear is more influential in your life?
Fighting fear with fear
It’s time to confront your paralyzing fears with a more meaningful fear: The fear of missing out… the fear of futility, insignificance, emptiness, and nothingness that emanates from, you guessed it… doing nothing.
Do you see that scarecrow in the field standing strong at half-past midnight surrounded by darkness, facing the unknown, and scaring off his own nightmares?
It’s a challenging job, but one of the most important roles on the farm. In fact, the next year’s harvest depends on you and your willingness to confront the disparaging thoughts that will attack your crop the moment you leave your post.
Stand strong scarecrow. It’s your turn to reign. You’ve got this; that I know.
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