Finding the Courage to Be You Is What Facing Your Fears Is All About…

So here comes the last post of the fear experiment that I began on June 12!

For one month I have tried to do one thing I was afraid of everyday for 30 days. And now that those 30 days are up – it’s time to talk about how the journey’s been and what I’ve learnt. 🙂

So let’s start off.

How Am I Feeling, Now That the Experiment is Over?

I could say that I have become completely fearless after this experiment – and that nothing in the world can now stir the emotion of fear in me. 😉 I could say – “bring on the tigers and lions!” But I would be lying if I said that. 🙂

What I do know however, is that I am feeling a wonderful sense of freedom and fearlessness – somewhat more than what I used to feel before the experiment.

And that feeling, feels good.

Before the fear experiment, for example, I would hesitate to talk to my girlfriend on phone in front of my maid (yeah that used to be one of my lame fears), or hesitate to call up a long lost friend I hadn’t talked to in 10 years. I would even hesitate to tell a friend something about myself that he wouldn’t like. Now, I can do all these things naturally. Similarly, earlier I would think thrice before doing anything in public that might attract any attention, but now there’s a good chance that I will easily do something in public (like dance) if I really feel like it, even if other people around me stare.

Of course there are tens of fears that I still haven’t faced – but the point is – after the experiment, there is more willingness and less resistance to face even bigger fears.

In a nutshell, yes, the fear experiment has lowered my defenses a bit and made me more open to facing anything I am afraid of rather than avoiding it.

What Did I Learn From the Fear Experiment?

I’ve already talked a bit about what I’ve learnt during this fear experiment in my previous posts, but here’s a complete list of all the things that I realized as I faced my fears…

1 – Yes, We Are Afraid

I noticed that there were actually so many fears in my life which I wasn’t even aware of! I became aware of those fears once I decided to face my fears. I didn’t know for example that just saying “Bye bye Delhi metro” to a metro train as it started and waving at the passengers would be such a big challenge but it was! I didn’t realize that dancing in public would be so frightening that I would want to quit the fear experiment. And I did NOT know that contacting a friend I hadn’t contacted in 10 years would make me break in sweat.

What I have realized after this experiment is that we actually get quite scared if we have to do anything that stretches us even slightly beyond our comfort zone. This means that even though we may feel we are not afraid of anything, we might be fooling ourselves by thinking that way. If we move out of our comfort zone, fear does step in. The experiment proved this to be true.

2 – Feeling the Fear But Going Ahead Anyway Feels Awesome

I am 23 years old now, and during these 23 years – I have experienced a variety of sensations and emotions.

But here’s what I have now realized – doing something you are afraid of despite being afraid of it is one of the most beautiful sensations ever. You have to experience it to know how it feels. Finding the courage to be you is blissful.

When I danced in public despite being afraid, I felt a strange energy coming over me. It felt so beautiful and meaningful to be doing what I believed in or felt good about despite being afraid of others’ reactions! When I called up a relative I was afraid of calling – that knowledge that I was calling him DESPITE my heart throbbing with fear – that feeling is indescribable.

Maybe, when we face a fear despite feeling it – we realize that we are so, so much greater than our limitations. We realize that we rock!

 3 Breaking a Fear Into Smaller Fears Helps

If we stretch ourselves a little bit again and again, we can soon, stretch ourselves a lot.

During this experiment, there were times when I was EXTREMELY afraid of facing certain fears. I felt I just COULDN’T face them. That’s when this idea of facing smaller fears first and then facing a bigger fear struck me. I realized that by breaking my big fear into small fears – I could face my big fear easily.

Here’s an example. When I thought of dancing in public, the thought felt so frightening that I decided I wouldn’t do it. How could I just start dancing in a busy marketplace with so many people watching me? Wouldn’t they just ridicule me in their minds as they watched me dance? That’s when the thought struck me: “OK, let me just try jumping instead of dancing”. So I jumped and it felt good. Then I thought – “Let me dance for just 2-3 seconds. I need not dance for a long time, just a couple of seconds.” So I danced for 2-3 seconds. Very soon I was able to dance for a longer time and able to overcome my fear of dancing in public.

So well, breaking a fear down into smaller fears, helps.

4 There’s No Substitute For Facing a Fear

You can talk about it. You can write about it. Ponder over it. But whatever you do, you just have to face a fear to overcome it. You cannot overcome a fear by doing ANYTHING other than facing it.

During the fear experiment, there were many times when I thought, “Let me think about this fear a bit more”. Let me “analyze this fear more”. All that is nice and good – and it helps too. But all that will NOT help you go beyond the fear. Thinking is the first step but going ahead – out of your comfort zone AND FACING the fear is the most important step.

I still remember how I thought and thought and thought about calling a relative I was afraid of but didn’t actually call. Similarly, I thought about telling my friend something I hadn’t told him ever – but kept postponing the “real telling”. It was only when I went ahead and called up that relative or told my friend in real whatever the matter was, that the fear disappeared. That bliss of actually facing the fear was incomparable to thinking more and more about my fears… 🙂

The courage to be you is important. The courage to be you can be built.

Finding the Courage To Be You: Final Words

So, well, those were the lessons I learnt.

If there was one conclusion I could make – what would it be? It would be this:

It does make sense to face our fears and go beyond them. Facing our fears makes our life feel freer, happier and more meaningful.

If nothing else, the feeling of freedom and lightness that comes from NOT being afraid of things we’re generally afraid of is amazing.

Since this is so, why don’t YOU start your own fear experiment right away? I am sure you will feel splendid after you’ve gone beyond your fears found the courage to be you.

So, well, let me end this fear experiment post with the slogan:

“Three cheers to a fearless life in which you have the courage to be you!”

Have a fearless day…