Monday, April 2, 2012

Battling Fear

As a survival mechanism, fear is very important.  It keeps us alive.  We heard a strange noise, we are afraid and our adrenalin increases so we can run away or stay and fight.

But when fear becomes so intense that we do not act or we act out of fear then fear itself is the enemy.  In my view this sort of behavior is rampant.  It dominants much of why we hate and dislike others:  we fear the differences.  And it is the cause behind much violence because if I hate you enough to act on it, then I am likely to harm or kill you.

In terms of writing, fear can stop you from committing words to the page.  You fear failure or perhaps you fear success.  We call it writer's block.  I've written about my experience with writer's block early in this blog so I won't repeat it.  Instead, let me talk about fear.

Fear and I are old companions.  I've never been afraid to fail; hell, most of my life is about failure.  I was the embodiment of Charlie Brown, you see.  Rather, I had a fear of success.  It is easy to fail.  You don't try very hard and fail is assured.  Succeeding is much harder and for many years I was afraid of succeeding because then I had to maintain that level of success.  People expected it of me and at the time I was ruled by the expectation of others.

But when I burned out and had to relearn how to write, all that went away.  I let go all those mind games (one never really knows what other people expect of you) and focused on making peace with myself.  You see, one of our biggest fears is we aren't who we think we are.  I think I'm a nice person but in fact I'm not. I'm a mean, insensitive, bastard on some level and I had been fighting with myself about this for years.  But when I stopped fighting and harnessed that mean SOB for writing, things began to click.

These days I see no point to be afraid of too much.  Sure, you want to be afraid of radiation exposure or anthrax, but the odds of such exposure are small.  But if you are afraid of someone because they are different I see no point in this.  My advice is to exam those feelings honestly and objectively.  I think you will find there is no ground for them and you might even discover nice people you can be friends with instead of fearing.

And I'm not saying it is easy to combat one's fear.  It took me months and occasionally I relive the experience.  But it is worth the effort I think especially if fear is holding you back from writing or experiencing some part of life.

So fight your fear and come out writing.

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