I read this super blog post about fear and excuses today. You really have to read it, but the gist of the beginning is that the author, James Chartrand, was afraid of flying, and despite making a big show of wanting to overcome the fear, he would make all kinds of excuses rather than actually work on it.
I totally do that. I would be willing to bet that a LOT of people do that, if not most. But I would take it one step further: people don’t just make excuses to avoid facing their fears – I think that in some cases, people make excuses for not doing things without even realizing that they are afraid.
Take me for example. I wasn’t a runner. Other people ran, and they were amazing, but I couldn’t run!
That is, until I did.
So where did that leave me? I honestly believed it when I told myself that I couldn’t run – as if it was a physical impossibility, that I would somehow violate the laws of physics if I tried. So when I did it, I had to face the truth: I was afraid! Afraid I would give up, afraid of what people would think of me for trying.
While knowing I was afraid didn’t magically cause the fear to evaporate, it sure helped – the amusing irony about fear is that the simplest way to overcome it is to do the thing you’re afraid of. Then you have proof that there is no basis for your fear, and it is never as bad in hindsight.
I am sure you have seen non-runners go through this – they’re chirping about how they really need to exercise but would never run because they can’t or would get bored or whatever – but maybe they’re being loud about it because it’s something they really want to try. Come to think of it, I have just decided that one of these times, when I hear someone who sounds like she might just be this person, I am going to invite her to run with me. In fact, if she says no, I might even come right out and ask, “Why? What are you afraid of?”