What Are Fears Afraid Of?

Recently, a few things happened. One is, I learned to relate to some aggressive sheep dogs. The other is that I played an open mic. I’m realizing that working with fear is less about solving a mystery or scaring it away or ignoring it, and more about making friends. 

Let me explain the sheep dog scenario. I live part time at a ranch, and there are a few sheep dogs. They are doing a job, which is guarding the sheep. The sheep happen to be right outside of my front door. So walking my dog anywhere quickly became a problem.

If you are any type of perceptive, you probably notice I have a lot of pictures of my dog up on the blog. That’s no accident. I’m his biggest fan. I love the ever-loving Hell out of him. I don’t want him getting bit up, beat up, or intimidated by some dogs based on a misunderstanding of the threat he poses to some sheep.

What I did at first was just run from them. That didn’t work, they felt powerful and chased me. I then started carrying a stick to raise in the air and scare them if they chased us. That sort of worked, except sometimes they got really angry and truth be told, that stick wouldn’t do much if they wanted to attack me or my dog. Then I tried something else, which was to come outside to actually greet them alone before walking my dog.

You know what happened? They freaking loved it. The girl one even let me pet her, which is nearly unheard of. She gets happy to see me in the morning now. The boy one does as well. They say hi to me, get excited, and then they leave us pleasantly alone while we walk by the river. They don’t even bark. If they do, I say their name, and they stop. It’s that freaking simple.

The open mic. There’s another one. A small handful of my friends have heard me play and sing, even though I’ve been doing it for more than ten years for just my own amusement. It’s not a side of me I show very much, yet have always yearned to in some form or another. Since joining Soundcloud, where things are safe and distant, I’ve learned that my lyrics really do have a great impact on some people. That’s a great feeling.

I was half-watching a movie called “The Waitress” last night (Nathan Fillian is in it, come on how could I not), and one of the things the main character Jenna said was “I was addicted to saying things and having them matter to someone.”

That’s exactly how it was. I became addicted to wanting to share, wanting to share my words with whoever would want to hear them. Plus I like getting over fears and hesitations. So I did the open mic.

Image

A new song about feeling proud of what you are even when it’s not much comparatively:
http://soundcloud.com/starshipjenerprise/until-its-done-by-jennifer

Before going, I addressed my fears one by one. I knew that if someone went before me and sounded amazing, that I would tap into a feeling of “I’m super proud that I get to offer something very different” instead of “oh jeez I’m going to just suck compared to them.”  I meditated, I even played in front of my boyfriend for hours and had him talk to me and try to distract me while doing it because I knew my mind would attempt such things later. I met every possible fear in a friendly way and worked with it so that when I was there, I felt prepared.

It went wonderfully. I sang three songs, I made some friends, I plan to go back and do it again next week. A few months ago, I would have probably bet my dog’s right front paw that I would never do an open mic for at least a few years. But working with my fears has really made my world feel bigger.

The way that I faced the fear of singing in public and really chose to want to work with it instead of run from it or fight it was very similar to how I finally learned to be less scared of the dogs. Maybe fears are as afraid of us really looking at them as we are of them. Maybe they are more afraid of someone being nice to them than of a direct challenge, because it’s amazing how fast they can scatter once you make up your mind to just let them do whatever they want after they get a friendly “hello” from you.  It’s easier than a battle or feigning ignorance, because even if you aren’t looking, they still have a strong prey drive.

How about you, have you overcome any fears lately?

Do you like to do things that are scary, or a specific type of scary? 

Do you ever look at your fear or fight it, or try to learn about it to dissolve it?

Hope everyone is well!

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14 thoughts on “What Are Fears Afraid Of?

  1. I like the idea that, ‘maybe fears are as afraid of us really looking at them as we are of them.’ So there’s really nothing to be frightened of, it’s the automatic response about being frightened of fear itself. We take precautions and leave it at that. I’m sometimes walking in unfamiliar areas with barking dogs and I’ve experienced this – I know what you mean.

    • I’m glad you know what I mean! We often DO just “leave it at that” as you say, and the world gets so much bigger when we finally, at least sometimes, don’t! 🙂 Thank you so much for reading!

  2. What really inspires me about your post is that you simply made the decision to confront your fears with no one trigger. It took my mum dying to start to face my fears, turning my grief into a cliched ‘life is too short’ thing. It annoys me that I couldn’t find that power inside myself, but having said that you mention wanting to sing for years and only just getting around to it now. I guess sometimes we just have to wait for the right moment to take that leap. Hopefully people reading your post will face their fears too, especially considering the outcomes of all your examples were positive 🙂

    Similarly I sang in front of friends for the first time at my wedding last year. This year my sister in law asked me to sing at her wedding too. I am so scared but so excited, that’s a fear worth facing.

    kx

    PS Your dog is gorgeous!

    • Thank you for reading! haha yeah, the outcomes are a little disproportionally positive as presented here- I’m still terrified of the sheep dogs and of singing, but I will just face the fears again and again, kind of like how I have to greet those dogs each morning so that they see me and leave my dog alone. And of course there are fears that I didn’t mention or yet deal with regarding other things and hopefully I get to work with them soon, and I agree that it’s all about the right moment, which is different for everyone, I’m glad you found that power inside yourself and I hope your outcomes are very positive as well! 🙂 thank you again for sharing your kind words!

  3. Had a similar experience with two dogs next door. Bark at everyone and just sound vicious. I could have yelled at them or just ignored them, but instead I called them “puppies” in a friendly tone and talked to them, pretty much in the tone I would to my grandkids (“What a fine bark you have there!” But then, they were on the other side of the fence). They would still bark though, so then I started peering over the fence at them, talk to them, and give them a treat. And while we normally wouldn’t normally counsel anyone to “feed their fears,” in this case, it worked wonders. Now they start in barking and snarling when they hear someone in the yard, and it just takes “Hey puppies!” And they immediately quiet and are up looking for a treat (that I generally don’t bring anymore) and a hand to pet them. I hadn’t thought of the larger implications and applications of this, though – so thank you for that! 🙂

  4. Like the idea of making friends with anything, especially fears. I really like the song. Haven’t been to Soundcloud much. I love how the comments scroll across the bottom while the song plays. Looks like a lot of people really enjoy your music. Thanks for sharing. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

    • Thank you Kozo!! 🙂 🙂 Soundcloud’s a little nuts but it’s fun to post the songs here if they have something to sorta do with the post. I’m super glad that you enjoyed it! Can’t wait to catch up on your blog, I am so out of the loop!

  5. Jennifer, hi!

    I wanted to tell you that the cumulative effect of following your blog has made a tremendous positive change in my life. There have been several situations recently when I would normally have given in to fretting and anxiety, but instead I decided to try the EnjoyLifeForOnce approach and tap into excitement or curiosity. It turns out that some of the things I used to dread (public speaking!) are enlivening and even… fun!

    Thank you!

    -aniko

    • Aw Aniko!!! That is so awesome!
      I still think of your parking garage story sometimes when there’s something I really don’t want to do- and I realize that it would be like getting out of the car and just saying “this isn’t happening!” and it makes me smile 🙂 I’m so happy you are back! 🙂 🙂 I got a new job right after downloading Stolen Climates and can’t wait to have time to read it!

  6. I just saw “Beasts of the Southern Wild” last weekend, and I loved the way it portrayed facing one’s fears–and how much power it gives you when you treat them as friends (kind of).

  7. First off, great blog post, you hit on some great points and issues that make people think. For myself, what I am recently overcome is the fear of letting people read my short stories (my writing). I started on a Writing Forum a few months ago and since then I am part of a small writer’s group. We do weekly prompts where we writer for each other stories and critic each other. This was a big fear of mine. I still hate getting negative feedback (cuz I am the weakest link in this writing group) I know in the end I will only improve if I practice and let others teach me. So that is a fear I have learnt to deal with, it still hurts but I let it be anyways. I think people need to try to work with the fear, becuase sometimes the fear will always remain it’s just how to cope with it. My next is the fear of rejection when I attempt to have my novel published *biting lip but that is next year’s fear buster! 🙂

    • That is so wonderful! And it seems to me like your efforts in joining and participating in the writing group are really also working in the service of next year’s goal of working with the novel! So that’s awesome! Have you heard of Funds for Writers? The lady C Hope Clark has a great Facebook page and twitter where she pretty much constantly offers articles that help with publishing and writing, you may like her!

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