Fear Makes the Wolf Bigger Than it Is
There is a German proverb that says, “Fear makes the wolf bigger than it is.” I was reminded of this the other day as we were discussing the dangers of being hit by lightning.
My mother began to lecture my brother, whose is a keen golfer, on the dangers of playing golf in a thunderstorm. She began to regale a series of stories (mainly from the newspaper) of people who had either a near escape or whom had been struck by lightning. My sister and I began to gloomily realise that lightning was now one of the dozens of hidden lurking dangers, along with MRSA, CJD and salmonella we had to add to the list.
My brother retorted that he knew exactly what he’d do if he was on a golf course in a storm, “I’d raise my number one iron above my head and be safe- because even God can’t hit a one iron”. This joke, which falls flat on the ears of non-golfers, was an attempt to lighten the atmosphere before we all spiralled into gloom.
Why Do We Love to Scare Ourselves
Statistically there’s a one in ten million chance of being hit by lightning – if you buy a one off lottery ticket you’ve got better chances of winning than a lightning strike. So why do we love to scare ourselves with stories of despair?
A few years ago, my husband and I cycled from Lands End to John O’Groats. Just before we started the journey I was imagining all possible dangers we might face and the more I imagined the more fearful I became. I’d covered all eventualities lorries, trains, freak floods. I was even anxious that an old Cornish mine shaft might suddenly open up and I’d cycle into it. Ironically when we started our journey all these fears disappeared – my imagination was more frightening than the reality.
The Fear of Fear
Often it’s not fear that holds us back, it’s the fear of fear. More often than not the fear we face is not ‘real’ but subtle. It’s the ‘What if I look stupid?” or the “What if I fail?” or the “What will so and so think?” In fact some people are afraid not of failure but of success. The bottom line is that we often don’t do things, NOT because we don’t want the experience, but because we’re scared.
The thing is that when we ‘keep safe’ and we don’t step out of our comfort zone we cease to grow. A friend of mine recently walked the Inca Trail. She had to cross rope bridges and climb precarious mountain passes. She’s not a natural walker and this tested her to the limits – she had visibly grown in confidence on her return.
Doing Something Differently
We don’t have to put ourselves through feats of endurance, sometimes it can be as simple as saying no or doing something differently, remember we’re often more frightened of the thought of doing something than actually doing it.
What would you like to do for yourself but you are ‘frightened’ of? Would you like to travel? Would you like to write a book? Would you like to have more “me time” but you’re fearful you’d be seen as selfish?
So what can you do? My recommendation is best summed up in the words of Susan Jeffers the author, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”