Fearing is scarier than the actual thing itself!
I know this from my own experience.
It is funny how the mind works, how it can build a huge scary story based on the smallest of things. How the imagination that we can rely on to help us innovate and invent can also work to undermine our confidence.
We use the same magical imagination to produce exciting stories in the classroom when asked to write a short tale or when we invent an internal bedtime movie for our children to soothe them to sleep…
That imagination we have that can be so sickly sweet, and cheerful can also be downright nasty and destructive, is the character of which we are made of.
I have often been in awe of the people who manage the stresses of life with such a cool and calm head. They see the way through no matter what picture is painted on the inside of their mind.
I often wondered if they see what others see, do they see the mountainous challenges that life sometimes throws at us. I wonder what they see or even if they see anything at all. Do they see the flat land of Holland while many of us are staring into the cavernous wilderness of the Rocky Mountains of life?
They either can paint a whole new narrative over the top of the story that is being told or have managed to continuously place themselves into the story as a hero. As the person who saves the day, that halts the runaway train or saves the world from aliens.
My brother is like this. Wanders through life with not too much care. He is chilled, laid back and takes, in his stride, what happens when stuff hits the fan. Nothing bothers him much, and he always says he can work out a way to fix things. He is handy mind, he is good at building stuff, has excellent woodwork skills and has an eye for invention.
My brother reminds me of my Dad. There is always a way to fix things, my Dad would say. He would find ways of making new from old, like my brother.
I remember when my other two brothers and I grew up in the same room and broke the wardrobe. My Dad wasn’t angry. He just said, as always, there is a way to fix things, and that he would work it out. Later that day, when we came back from school, the wardrobe had been dismantled, shortened in width and built into the alcove in the bedroom, which gave it the strength to carry on regardless.
My Dad had the imagination and the innovation to see through the problem. He placed himself into the narrative as the hero, and he saved the day… and the wardrobe to boot. He kept the wardrobe probably as a means to a must because we were poor back then, but the story stuck with me. There are always ways to fix things. Just take the time to work it out.
My Dad would always encourage me to figure it out throughout my life. He would say there is always an easy way or a hard way, so try to go the easy way; that way, you have space left in your imagination to innovate on the back of that. No use consuming all your mental energy, going down a complicated path that does not leave you space to think.
When your fears soak up all of your imagination and consume your entire thought process, they remove any space you have to think. Your brain freezes and turns to your mammal brain and that does one thing… panics in a response.
I now realise that the superpower that my father, my brother and the people who always so impress me with how they handle life’s challenges have, is the ability to leave themselves the space to think.
They leave a little wiggle room in their head. Some room to breathe inside the skull. They leave just enough space to figure things out.
And in that small space, that sharp, focused ‘inner eye’ space, is where they defeat their fears.