Saturday, March 11, 2006

On Fear, and Dealing With It

George over at GM Roper's Corner has a post up about dealing with fear. (h/t: Instapundit)

George goes into quite a bit about how fear can be crippling if you let it, or you can put it aside, and go on about your business, and he is quite right about that. Very good article.

One thing he doesn't go into, however, is how fear can be incredibly useful. I'm not going to address how causing fear in others can motivate them to do what you want - I find that, while sometimes necessary, to be distasteful at best.

Rather, I'd like to address how fear can be a good personal motivator.

You see, when you're afraid of something, you have a choice to make: You can succumb to that fear, or you can control it. And if you control it, you can make it work for you.

For example: I'm afraid of dying in a car wreck. Not because I'm afraid of dying (I'm really not, we all will sooner or later), but because I'm afraid of leaving Lisa, and in the future, our children, without the support I bring to our family. I don't avoid driving (except on Amateur Drunk Night aka New Year's Eve); I carry a lot of insurance. Granted, money won't completely cover my absence should I be killed, but plenty of money will make things easier for my family. I don't mind the monthly cost of the insurance, because that's how I deal with that fear of leaving my family without me.

My greatest fear - in fact the only REAL thing that terrifies me - is that I might somehow fail to TAKE CARE of my family. I don't sit and shake at night thinking about it; instead, I think of ways that I CAN take care of my family, come Hell or high water. "Murphy, I don't know your face, but I know your name - I'll be ready for you, whatever face you have on when you show up". I try to have plenty of everything - food, water, fuel, backup power, medicine, dog and cat food, cash on hand, firearms, ammo, money in the bank, tools, spare parts, firewood, propane, smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, clothing, shelter - you name it.

Not being able to provide for my family is my GREATEST fear. Whenever something boils up in my psyche, and that fear rears its ugly head, I don't go to bed and cry about it - I USE IT. It motivates me, to analyze what gaps I have in being able to take care of my family, and then close that gap.

Of course, there are more immediate fears - face-to-face threats aren't something you can sit back and think about objectively.

But if you pick out, and identify, the long-term fears, and turn them to your advantage by addressing them, then you start to learn to face fear aggressively.

And as any military commander worth his salt will tell you, being aggressive, and taking the initiative, is priceless.

If you make a habit in your day-to-day life of identifying and acting on your background fears - being aggressive and taking the initiative against them - it will become second nature.

Then, when you're faced with a sudden, or immediate, stressful situation, you won't collapse in uncontrolled fear - you'll face it head-on, identify and evaluate your options, and proceed accordingly.

And Fear will never again be your master - only an occasional passer-by, and sometime servant.

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