How do you experience and deal with fear?
How do you experience and deal with fear? Do you tiptoe to the edge before dropping over it, sacrificially, like a lemming over a cliff? Do you march up to the edge only to rapidly run away three times first? Do you take three strides and a flying leap into the unknown?
This film, Ten Meter Tower, is hilarious. And moving, fascinating, and inspiring.
Fear is pretty much always lurking. It’s elemental. It protects us and helps us survive. We can’t do without it. But we also can’t let it control us. It’s there stopping us speaking up (for fear of what others might think, for fear of embarrassing ourselves, for fear of being told ‘no’). It’s there making us put things off, procrastinate, obsess. It’s there when we simply don’t know.
Fear usually centres around 3 things:
(Weak at times, annoying at times, selfish, sexual, mean, etc)
(Good enough, clever enough, funny enough, etc)
(Will I lose my job? Will she leave me? Will I ever be in love? Will my family get sick? Will I be OK? etc etc)
Our fears often involve a hidden negative — a ‘don’t’ or a ‘can’t’. Sometimes, and this is the counterintuitive bit, they involve a “don’t” + something positive — “don’t succeed”, “don’t be important”. Often we’ve copied this from our parents, or we‘ve been subtly taught this warning as kids and it’s seeped in, which can be hard to uncover and shake off.
Sometimes our fears involve doing. When we yell, dominate, interrupt, bully. These can be misinterpreted as signs of strength. But they’re not. They’re signs that we are overcompensating for some fear we have — perhaps someone has intimidated us, perhaps we’re scared we are inadequate (therefore we try too hard to prove we’re not), or we fear that we are weak or can’t cope (therefore we overcompensate by being arrogant, or playing “superhero”, or by bullying others to assert our power).
Some of our most powerful fears are the deep hidden ones, the ones we don’t even know are lurking. Fear of being alone. Fear of relying on people. Fear we’re not good enough. Fear of men. Fear of women. Fear of being trapped. Fear that there’s something wrong with us. Some of our fears get complicated. Like when we’re afraid to commit, because we’re ultimately afraid of being rejected, or being trapped, or finding — and therefore potentially losing — someone we actually, truly, love. You can be sure that whenever we are acting “weirdly” or when we’re “stuck”, it’s fear that’s at play, pulling invisible strings in the background of our brains and hearts.
And this is of course totally normal. It’s a stage we all have to go through at some point. But if we don’t acknowledge and begin to do something to defy our fears eventually they can escalate through the downward spiral ultimately to depression and victimhood:
But here’s what’s great about the Ten Meter Tower film: in all its real, human, empathic jubilance it proves to us — visually, viscerally, simply — that fear can be conquered. Once we’ve seen the drop, when we realise it’s there — then we have a choice in how to deal with it. To creep to the edge. Perhaps to peer over, again and again to normalise things first, get used to the idea. Or to run and leap.
Whatever the method, this film shows how time and time again in all their different ways big and small, humans conquer their fears. And like in this film, conquering always involves some kind of step. Whether it’s a 10 metre jump or the final tiny inch of a long and painful path, this step forms a leap of spirit, of bravery, that proves to ourselves that we can do it — we just have to acknowledge first why we don’t. That’s half the battle won.
Here are our 6 steps to the leap:
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