I read this great blog post on In Over Your Head earlier today about fear that I think many Baggage Reclaim relate to and it has a killer line in it: “Fear means it isn’t happening.”

The post is about a book called The Gift of Fear which is…er…about teaching women how to deal with stalkers and creepy assclowns basically! It talks about how when you’re walking home at night and afraid of being attacked, you’re not being attacked and if you were being attacked but listened to your instincts, your instincts would kick in and you would go into fight and survival mode. But worrying about it essentially means it’s not happening. You’re OK.

The difference is that we make our fears real in so much as that we believe them and get hijacked by them.

As a prime example, I was talking with a reader last night that had a very classic example of this. She was waiting for the guy she really likes to come around the other night as he was going to help her out with moving some stuff. When the time passed for him to be there, she spent the next 20 minutes thinking that he’d ditched her, he wasn’t going to turn up, he’d realised she was flawed and yada yada yada. As it was he’d ended up being stuck in traffic and clearly hadn’t realised she’d lose her mind. Now granted he probably could have called but I’ve discovered that some people do have a mindset of ‘I’ve said I’ll be there so obviously if I’m not there yet I’m running late’ and only when it goes past their comfort zone of late would they become concerned.

When he showed up she felt silly and she said that actually, she fears the worst all the time and rarely does whatever she’s scared of materialise. It’s when she bumbles along loving and trusting blindly and ignores anything that should be scaring her (ignoring instincts) that she gets into trouble.

Long time readers will know I had a very similar experience with the boyf when we first started dating. We said goodbye that morning and arranged to go out later and that he would call late afternoon. He dozed off on the sofa and went into a deep sleep after golf. My fears went into overdrive and I went on a fear rampage thinking the worst possible things about myself (and him) until a voice chirped in and said “What the f*ck are you doing?”. When I thought about things logically and weighed up my instincts and what I knew about him, I knew that he hadn’t transformed into an assclown in 12 hours and my fears were out of sync with his character. It occurred to me that he’d probably fallen asleep and lo and behold, he had. It’s fortunate I listened to my sane self because the other me had me storming out, cursing him when I spoke with him next, and relegating him to the assclown pile. We’re still loved up today and have two daughters.

In talking with people, I see the fact that their fear isn’t happening all the time. They just don’t realise it.

A few months back I spoke with someone else who had decided to stop dating someone because she was convinced that he was going to dump her. He called and called and eventually gave up. I asked why she didn’t take the call – she said she was scared of what she might hear. I’ll put it this way – I don’t think he was beating down her door to tell her she was dumped…

I spoke with someone else a few days ago and when I asked her why she couldn’t do something, she basically described her fears. I was like ‘Hello! This hasn’t actually happened. You’re talking yourself down and being defeated when actually, you’re not that person and you could’ve been thinking about a solution instead’. She didn’t realise that she’s not the person that she thinks she is and who he thinks she is likely to be – she has moved on from being that person but she’s still scared of it.

Are you living a life based on your fears where you’re reacting to things that aren’t actually happening?

One of the things I know is that you’re more equipped to survive and deal with situations if you’d only recognise your own strength – it’s important to assess the threat level. As I said in my post about making someone the sole source of your happiness, I was scared I wouldn’t love again or survive without a number of people and here I am living, breathing, and loving.

Some of you will say ‘But it’s happened before and that’s why I’m scared’.

If you’re scared that something that has happened before might happen again it’s all the more reason to listen to yourself and use the lessons from the previous experience to guide your instincts now. But you have to be prepared to be self-aware and listen to you and be your own best friend and trust your judgement. Otherwise you will paint yourself into a corner.

I love that the author of the posts adds “If it’s happening, you deal with it. If you’re just worried, you’re already probably doing fine.”

Sometimes we’re too hard on ourselves and we underestimate our power and potential – don’t limit yourself.

Your thoughts?

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