Lately, I have been thinking a lot about 'fear'. I have my own fears - both rational and irrational. The rational fear is a lot easier to deal with, it is the irrational fear that kills me. How do you go about solving a problem if the root cause is either unknown or absolutely illogical?
For instance, I have this irrational fear of dogs. Yes, dogs! It is really sad because, I like and adore them, but I get so nervous when they are around that I literally have heart palpitations even when I see them on the other side of the road. One of my friends was even observing that this might be physically damaging to me if I have to react so strongly anytime there is a dog in the vicinity.
To this day, I have no idea where this trauma came from? I have tried to analyse and go back in time so many times, but I cannot put a finger to it.
So I started researching about this - this phobia (It falls under the 'phobia' category because it is an irrational fear) even has a name: 'Cyanophobia'.
And guess what? I find, I am not alone! I was secretly pleased (though I feel their pain) that I was not some sort of a freak and this is quite common among many, even in a dog friendly nation like the USA.
All the research and interactions with anxiety/phobia experts lead me to believe that the very first step is to acknowledge the existence of the fear. Sure! I can do that. But that was the easy part.
The second and most crucial step was to 'face' that fear. Wait a minute! That is precisely what I cannot do. The idea is to first observe dogs in a dog park from far, then maybe go for walks with a friend who owns a trained, friendly dog (Beware, trying this out with a violent dog may backfire!). So this second step completely threw me off my comfort zone and I was terrified!
So I did what I do best when faced with an uncomfortable situation like this: I procrastinated.
So time just passes me by....and life goes on.
But then another set of events transpire...
One thing that feels so liberating and refreshing to me is to run in the open air. And I used to do that a lot, a few years ago. Somehow, the past 4 years I had to stop that because of severe knee pain and figure out another way to inject the endorphins in to my system.
So I started reading a lot about the 'runner's knee', potential damage done to the knee cartilage due to concrete roads, quality of shoes, incorrect 'landing' patterns etc.
Turns out, I did not invest enough time and money to buy myself good shoes when I started running...bad judgement and ignorance caused excruciating knee pain every time I ran.
I was disappointed that I could not run on the outside, so I just kept up my cardio in the gym. But it was never the same! Again, I just did nothing about it. I wonder why inertia and procrastination takes over a sane sensible action to change our life for the better? Probably because the former is a lot easier?
After about 5 years, I decide to actually start working on strengthening my leg muscles and invest in good shoes. I go through all these tests in an expensive shoe shop where they tailor make "insoles" for my shoe, fit the right brand, shoe etc. and finally I am a happy runner again.
I start with running on the treadmill first - with a controlled pace and elevation. It felt ecstatic to run again but something still felt uneasy about the shoes. I was truly agitated. I had spent a fortune on these shoes, almost as much on those "insoles" and I am still struggling to run?? I swore to give a piece of my mind to the shoe salesman who helped me with the whole process.
A few days later, when the discomfort persisted, I went to the shoe store again. I explain the problem, and asked the sales man what could be wrong now? I was waiting for him to give excuses that I was definitely going to dismiss. I just stood there looking at him. He slowly takes the shoes from me, then looks in to them and says: "Oh the "insoles" are swapped!. Let me switch them back to the correct shoes and you will feel as good as new."
Lo and behold! As soon as I ran with the shoes that had the swapped the in soles correctly, I did feel like a whole new person. Or rather like my old self - that blissful runner I used to be!
While driving back home, it occurred to me...my first epiphany of 2013: Even though inertia and procrastination is our first reaction to any discomfort or change of lifestyle, what if it only meant swapping "insoles" for your shoes to elevate your quality of life? Or better yet, overcome any fear or hurdles in life? How about if we just faced the fear, overcame the inertia, beat the procrastination and just sought out the right solution? Maybe it is just as simple as swapping our insoles!! :)
I am now working to apply this same theory to my fear of dogs, what if I just faced my fear, and at least attempted to get it over with?? Wouldn't my life get a lot easier and fun?
After all, isn't Courage just not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is actually more important than the fear itself??