Monday, November 21, 2011

Fear Factor?

She's a bit scared.
I had a conversation with a friend a few weeks ago. At one point during the talk, my friend said, “Maybe you’re afraid of what you already know.” I shot back, “I am not afraid of anything.”
My response has been sitting at the back of my mind for a while now. Because although, I am a brazen, say what I think, kind of girl – I am actually very afraid of lots things. I think that maybe, I have liked to think of myself as “fearless” when in actuality, I am only outspoken. That’s not really the point I am going toward today, but introspective nonetheless.

Anyway, it got me thinking about fears in general. And thinking about all of the things I am truly afraid of. As it turns outs, my statement, “I’m not afraid of anything,” could not be farther from the truth.

What fears do I have, you ask? Well, many of them are your run of the mill, normal fears most of us have. I am afraid of spiders. Actually, I am afraid of anything that is creepy crawly with legs and or wings. I am afraid of scary movies. Especially ones dealing with the supernatural. I am afraid an intruder will come in to my house at night and I won’t be able to protect my children or myself -- although I always picture myself beating someone in to submission. I am afraid of waking up and smelling smoke and not being able to get to my girls down the hall, the stairs, and outside, before my house is in flames. I am afraid that someone will cross the center line on Hwy 18 on my way home from visiting my mom in Yakima -- and the last thing I will see is the headlights of the car about to come through my windshield. I am afraid that I’m not a good mother. I am afraid that I am not living up to my potential. I am afraid that I am sitting and watching life from a distance instead of participating to the fullest. I am afraid of decisions I have made. I am afraid of decisions I have not made. I am afraid of not being as healthy as I want to be. I’m even more afraid of not being in control of my heath. I am afraid of failure.

She is less scared.
You get where I am coming from. I’m making my point, I believe. But the kind of fear that can be the most intrusive in our day to day life, I believe, is the fear of failure. And that is the fear I am addressing today.

Of course I can circle any topic around to Olympic Weightlifting, and this one will be no different. So let’s talk about how I can equate my fears in life to the way I “fear” a barbell -- and how I wish that my fears of failure were as easily conquered.

A barbell can be scary. It holds a bit of the unknown – kind of like life. I love it. But it doesn’t always love me back. I know what I what I want to accomplish when I see it. It doesn’t always have my best interests at heart. I have goals attached to it. It doesn’t always have the same goals. Sometimes I’m “afraid” to touch it (no, not quite like a spider, but you get my point) – because I fear the outcome. Why? Because I stand before it with expectations. Much like life. I would like to firmly believe that because I have worked for something, and I really want something, it will happen. Not always true. So I fear failure.

She is fearless.
Failure is a part of life. I know this logically, but that doesn’t always comfort me. I fear an unexpected outcome. The outcome I do not want. This negative possibility? Well, I would skip this alternative, if I could. But I can’t. Even the most successful and luckiest of people don’t get to escape the possibility of failure. Or even failure itself. So, knowing this, when we make an “attempt,” at anything, there are two things that will happen . . . victory or downfall. And that simple fact is scary. Always.

So, I am wondering if the way I approach the barbell, the “fear” that it holds for me and the way I address it – could this be a learning experience for the way I approach other fears in my life? It would be nice if it was possible.

How do I control my fear when I face a heavy lift? I tell myself four things:

1. You are not a wussy. You are badass. Yes, you are.
2. If you don’t go for this, Lori, how will you ever get any better? You won’t.
3. What’s the worst thing that will happen? You fail.
4. If you fail, you try again. And again. And again. Because you can.

She is badass.
Unfortunately, the big difference is that a failed lift is just failed lift. I get to try again, “next time.” A life failure? Well, the consequences can be lasting and far reaching. But one similar principal can be applied, however. If you don’t attempt the lift, you will never get the bar over your head, or PR. If you don’t go for what you really want in your life, you will never get it. Ever. Simple, yet, not at all. And that is where the concept of “fear” takes center stage.

So I guess if we want to think of life as a lift, we can choose to keep your fears at bay – and never PR. Or we can choose to face our fear, and deal with the outcome that comes with that decision – good or bad.

So can I look at my life the way I look at barbell? Can I be fearful yet optimistic? Can I wager the outcome based on what I believe in the moment? Can I tell myself that if I fail, or I don’t like the outcome, there is always a chance to try again? And again? And again?


But it’s a lovely concept, isn’t it?

That is why life is “scary” as hell. And we only “fear” a lift.

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