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“The enemy is fear. We think it is hate, but it is fear” – Mahatma Gandhi.
Today’s quote provides an interesting discussion of concepts- fear, and hate. Are they linked? Do we hate something because we fear it, or fear it because we hate it?
Personally, I agree that hate can stem from fear, or quite often – a lack of knowledge. You know, that feeling that you don’t know what’s happening, that you’re losing control and you’re not sure what to do.
If you know me, you’d probably categorize me closer to “control freak” than “relaxed” on any type of spectrum. Now, I’m not saying I want to control others; I simply want to be in control of my own life. Fears take control away, though.
Why Are Fears So Hard to Face?
I’ll be the first to admit that the last 12 to 18 months have definitely been fear-facing for me. In fact, in two separate aspects of my life, I’ve forced myself to come face-to-face with two things I’m afraid of.
I’ll share one of those with you today:
Actually, it’s a fear that I didn’t really admit that I have: of the water. Now, I knew that I had “hated” swimming as a kid, but I thought that I had been bored, or annoyed that I couldn’t see without my high-prescription glasses.
The truth is that I was afraid of the feeling of being underwater, of losing control, of not knowing exactly what was going on.
5 Ways To Boldly Face Your Fears
One of my favourite quotes concerns the idea that being brave is not the absence of fear.
It’s actually recognizing that fear, acknowledging the anxiety, and coming face-to-face with it. Well, this definitely happened in my swimming class last week, which inspired me to write this post. Even though I’ve been “swimming” for a few months now, I don’t feel that it’s peaceful, at least not all the time.
Sure, having not been comfortable fully putting my face in the water last July, I’ve made some progress, but my coach Tere wanted me to truly feel at peace underwater. (Check out her awesome company TFSwim here)
So, we did I drill where I had to use the stairs/railing to lower myself down to the bottom of the pool. Yes, to the floor of the pool, stand on the pool, and jump. Jump as if I were on a real, above-water floor and pop up through the water, and then “fall” right back in again, and go for a second jump.
Like a dolphin, she said. Dolphins only come up for a brief time, for a small amount of air!
For me, this was terryifying. I train a lot, and I’m perfectly happy doing plyometrics on land – but in the water? Under the water?
2. Know Fear Is (Usually) Illogical
What I love about my coach is she didn’t mind that I was afraid. “This is what we’re doing today”, she said. No options. No running away. Everyone has fears – face them, she told me.
We did this for half an hour before we resumed our regular swimming lesson. Force yourself to face it.
3. Find Someone Who Has a Different Fear
Everyone is afraid of something. Talking about your fears with someone can definitely help, especially if they have a different fear to the one you do. Sometimes playing “worst-case-scenario” with someone else can help you realize how unlikely those situations are, and what you could do if they did occur.
4. Have A Step by Step Plan
You know by now that I’m a planner! 🙂 Well, this applies to facing my fears, too. At some point, it comes down to either facing the fear, jumping over the hurdle, and reaching your goal – or being satisfied with stagnant progress. Living in Barcelona (and now planning to stay here), I realized that being so afraid of the ocean was not a great plan. Ironically, I love going to the sea (or ocean). I’m just afraid to swim in it where I can’t touch the bottom!
So, working with my coach Tere, we’re getting there. I’ve been taking weekly lessons since July 2017, and practice about once a week, too. Slow progress is still progress – so I’m hoping to get to the sea this summer!
5. Follow Your Plan – & Share Your Progress
If you’re worried about sticking to or following your plan, remember to share your progress. However small it may be, sharing your progress can help you overcome your fears. Personally, I do this via Whatsapp and text to my friends both here in Barcelona and back in Canada (where I’m from). It’s great to have some moral support from your friends on your journey 🙂
After I wrote up this post, I came across this list of 10 Tips for Facing Your Fear, which may be helpful if you need more tips!
Hate vs. Fear
The interesting second part of Gandhi’s quote compares our perception of the “enemy” to be hatred, when it’s really just fear. Isn’t it so much easier to say you hate something, rather than admit you are terrified?
Take me and swimming, for example. I honestly always thought that I hated swimming, but this past year I’ve realized that’s not true. While that’s a simple example, we can also extrapolate this to larger world issues, like seemingly puzzling discrimination against certain minority groups. In my opinion, it’s often not true hatred, but a lack of understanding (and a fear of the unknown) that propel the hatred.
Just this morning, I read this blog post and saw this viral video on Facebook helping people understand more about transgender kids. It’s about a pastor, his wife and their daughter (who was born a boy, and recently transitioned to a girl). Some of the hateful comments discussed are appalling; personally I think people are afraid of the unknown, which fuels hatred. I’m so glad we’re seeing a rise in videos like this one that help people become more open-minded, and help individuals have the courage to speak up for who they are and who they want to be.
What fears have you faced lately? Are you willing to share one with us in the comments below? I love hearing inspiring stories from all of you 🙂
Have a lovely and productive Monday!
P.S. The photo for today’s post (and poster!) is one I took in Cinque Terre, Italy a couple summers ago.
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