Finding balance in a chaotic world

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December 2017
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I’m Scared Sarge

scaredThere is a part in Ernest Goes To Camp where two turtles are about to parachute from some height. I don’t remember why, it is an Ernest movie after all, but one turtle says to the other “I’m scared Sarge.” The other turtle replies “We’re all scared son.” Who knows why this sticks with me but it does and there is some important truth in that quick exchange. We are all scared.


There are basically two types of fear: rational and irrational. Rational fear is where you are afraid of something, typically immediate, as it poses a direct threat to you or someone around you. Irrational fear is the fear that something might happen sometime in the future. Climbing up on a roof can elicit rational fear. You could lose your balance and fall so you pay close attention to what you are doing. Being afraid to stand up for what you believe is right because someone might not like you is irrational.


If you aren’t careful, irrational fear can completely take over your life and throw you out of balance. It keeps you from doing things you would like to do or feel you should do, all because of an inner monologue that prevents you from taking the first step. How many times have you wished you would have said something to someone but held back for an unknown reason? You had this voice in your head screaming at you to say something but you held your tongue. Or perhaps someone presented an opportunity for you that was outside your comfort zone and you declined, possibly making up an excuse why you couldn’t?


For the longest time I was a slave to my irrational fears. If something was the least bit outside of what I was comfortable with, I’d do my best to avoid it. Consequently I missed out on a lot of fun things and also forced myself to put up with issues that I never should have put up with. Part of the problem is that we learn that fear is scary and we want to avoid it as often as possible, so we protect ourselves as best we can, often by insulating ourselves away from it.


But the truth is that we are all scared of things. It is just a matter of determining whether the fear is rational or irrational. If it is rational, take the necessary steps to protect yourself. If it is irrational, then consider facing the fear head on.


I’ve come to the point where if the idea of something scares me, then that is a great indicator that I need to do it. If I succeed then I reap the benefits I’ve earned and my comfort zone expands. If I fail, well here is the real secret about that. If I fail, the consequences are often far less severe than my brain thinks they will be. Rarely are the consequences of irrational fear serious enough that it could take years to overcome. Instead it is (at least for me) often small social repercussions that need to get worked through.


So if you find yourself afraid of an idea or action, ask yourself if this fear is irrational. If it is, charge ahead anyway. You almost always benefit from it even if you fail.