Thursday, June 2, 2011

If fear weren't there...

I couple of weeks ago, in the midst of various health challenges and changes, a friend passed on a question she'd heard recently:

How would you act if fear weren't there?

Hmmmm... Good one. Although I didn't have much energy when I heard it, part of me liked this question because it cut through all the rhetoric and emotional roller coasters. The question asks me to set aside my ordinary reactions and more objectively ask myself what actions I would take in a situation if I (or even others) weren't afraid. It doesn't ask or expect me to stop feeling the fear, just to consider what I'd do if the fear weren't there.

My favourite definition of courage is "to feel the fear and do it anyway" -- whatever "it" might be. This new question I'm writing about is, to me, a helpful way to move from the theoretical definition of courage into action. And since I'm a great believer in action as the antidote to many sticky situations, this is something I can get my head around.

For example, if you were faced with an unexpected and unwanted job change, such as a layoff or being fired, a common reaction would be to feel afraid (among other feelings). Fears about your financial situation, changing status and/or respect, loss of workplace friendships, having to move, and so on. Many people would feel fearful in such a situation.

But now imagine that instead of dwelling on the worries and what-ifs, you just sat down and for a few minutes pretended you were an android or a robot. Imagine yourself moving into 'Droid Mode in which you feel nothing and simply have a problem to solve -- a problem no more emotional than sorting through the junk drawer or sweeping the floor.

In 'Droid Mode, you say to yourself, "Okay, so this is not what I wanted or expected. The situation appears to leave me with no familiar options, but I will consider every option I am able to see at this moment. Some will be familiar, perhaps, while others may not. That is no matter. I will simply weigh each one to determine how helpful it might be in this situation. Then I will choose reasonable actions and carry them out."

And so, ignoring all emotional reactions to the change, you simply list problems that have arisen and what you can do right now and in the near future to address them.

What would you do if the fear weren't there?

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