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Fear Management, Part Two

In the first article, I reviewed ways our body sends out fear signals to the world, and how we try to pacify ourselves involuntarily to alleviate this fear. Now we’ll review the many ways to get our fears handled, including the single most powerful method.

A Dozen Ways to Deal with Fear

1. The Blinders Effect

Don’t look for potential risks. Put on blinders and push forward. If you had asked me while I was in college, or in med school for that matter, how many years I had left before I could practice, or what classes I’d need to take, or what grades I’d require to advance to the next level, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. I set my intention – become a physician – and I did whatever I needed to do to advance me towards that intention. Fear never took over, because I never ran an analysis of what would be required. It simply didn’t matter; I was willing to do whatever it took.

2. The Cold Pool: Committing to the intention

The water's fine

The water's fine

If I asked you to get into a cold swimming pool, you can do one of a couple things. You can put your toes in, then step in up to your knees, then wade in so your waist is underwater, then finally submerse your entire body. Or you could simply jump right in. Whether it’s a cold pool or anything else uncomfortable and scary, diving in fully without hesitation will bypass all fear. Set your intention and then go for it 110%.

Approaching is like swinging a bat. You don’t swing half-way and then tap the ball. You commit to the swing fully, so even after contact the bat keeps moving to the end of the swing. Likewise, when you see a hotty, make it your intention to walk up to her and get her attention. She may ignore you or blow you off, but that’s not relevant. All that matters is that you do everything in your power to make your intention a reality immediately, and not take the time to mull over the potential discomfort.

Recently I signed up for Bikram yoga. If you don’t know what that is, it’s the yoga where you spend 1 ½ hours in an extremely hot and humid room posing in often painful contortions. Sounds fun, eh? When I signed up for it, I bought a full month of classes. That is, I committed to it with blinders on, knowing that I might get scared away after my first attempt. When I bought the month I was telling my fear to fuck off, I was giving this activity a fair chance.

3. Snorkeling and Horror Flicks: What is the actual risk?

I flew all the way out to Oahu one summer, and found myself gazing at the sea with a sense of intimidation. What if a shark was out there? What if a jellyfish floated by? What about eels? What if, what if?

I almost didn’t go snorkeling, but thank god I did because it was one of the best experiences of my life. I took control of my fear by assessing the actual risk. There rarely is a shark out in popular snorkeling areas. And all my other concerns were statistically highly unlikely to ever materialize as well.

Yes, there may be risks involved in certain activities, but be realistic about them. The risk of air travel is minimal, the risk of public speaking is nil, the risk of approaching is practically non-existent.

Recognize when the danger is to your body, or just to your ego. Public speaking is the number one phobia of people, but why? No real harm can come to you while speaking in front of crowds. Perhaps what you fear is rejection, humiliation, loss of respect and acceptance, or accidentally offending people. These are all worries of the ego, and have nothing to do with your physical well-being. They are all manufactured and can be just as easily dissolved with will.

I love horror films. I could watch them every night. They never get old. Horror films pose no true risk that I’ll be killed by the undead or the demented psycho or the plague. I may startle at times or feel dread for the characters, but I’m never actually personally afraid. You see a dude in set, and you tell yourself, “he’s just a coworker” and you go in despite the fear (the “fuck it” moment). The coworker is not a real threat to you, not unlike the slasher in the horror film. You can certainly generate all sorts of potential repercussions in your head if the guy doesn’t welcome you in, but you also can set aside those voices and remind yourself that this risk is pure fantasy. Never mind all that community AMOG bullshit, and instead, view him as another potential friend to help you get the girl.

4. Boxing:  Gathering cues

I took up mixed martial arts about a year ago. As I threw punches, I often found myself turning my head away and shutting my eyes, because I knew my trainer was most likely avoiding my jab and about to clobber my head. Though I wanted to shut my eyes and lean away while I swung, to punch effectively required me to keep my eyes focused on the opponent so I could see how he’s gonna react. I am, in effect, reading my adversary for cues. Will he move left? Will he duck? Will he throw a cross? Will he deflect my punch and rotate away from it? If my eyes are averted, I can’t gather information and then respond in turn. I must not only have a good offensive, I must always be on a fact-finding mission at every moment.

The only way to manage any interaction strategically – whether it’s boxing or evaluating cues a girl is sending out – is to look at it head-on with total presence. Move into the fear with open eyes, in spite of the risks.

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About Dr. Evan Marlowe Evan Marlow is the dean and founder of Man School.  You can visit at Manschool.cc

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