Fear is a very powerful thing. Some call it a great motivator. That can be true, sure. Fear can motivate you, and that right there is your evolutionary advantage. Fear can definitely push someone or something to reach some extraordinary places. And sometimes that works out nicely. Awesome! A lot of the time, though, fear can paralyze you pretty thoroughly. That deer in the headlights didn't become a widely-used idiom for no reason. At least, that's my experience. When I'm most afraid of something, it's insanely easy to lock up, shut down. How often is easy the best thing, though?

Anyway, this is a special kind of fear. It's the kind of fear that stops you in your tracks. The kind that looms. It's the kind that gets its own little miniature montage as its shadow steadily spills across the countryside before overtaking the entire city. It might just be me, but when that kind of stressful shadow drapes itself over the sun, it can get to the point where I find myself fixed right were I stand.

When this happens, I've gotta do something about it.

This particular kind of fear is absolutely the kind that needs to be dealt with immediately. This particular kind of fear is mitigating, and stops you from dealing with whatever problem is actually at hand. What really needs to happen is the changing of your problem into a challenge, so that you can develop a way to navigate it. What you need, when you're stuck in a situation that keeps you obsessing about all the bad shit that might happen in the future is to start getting on with all the good shit that you can do in the present to keep any of that bad shit from actually happening in the future. As a close friend of mine likes to put it: What time is it? It's now. And where are you? You're here. Right? Right.

So why are you afraid?

Maybe you've failed int he past. Maybe your challenge is a very significant one.

Figure out what it is that's putting the gum under your shoes.

Why should you not be afraid?

Look, it doesn't matter who you are. There's some reason, somewhere in your past, that you should feel confident in your ability to overcome your present challenge.

Peek at the evidence you've given yourself that you can handle this. There totally is some.

Think on your skills, your talents. Which are the most important right now? How are you going to use them?

So what are you going to do now?

Break your objective up into smaller, more manageable tasks. It'll be less overwhelming that way.

Make yourself a list. Put the most important things first. Get to it. Remember how you eat a whale: one bite at a time.

Stay here. Now.

Remember what time it is, and where you are. Especially when you start to get a little nervous.

Don't let yourself get stuck focused on the future. Big problems can seriously freeze you in your tracks...until you start doing something to solve them, that is.

photo: kubotake

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