What I Learned About Fear & Getting Back In The Saddle

The Saddle

One second I’m on my bike coming home from work, the next I am on my back pulling myself off the pavement.

Clipped by a door flying open as I biked home.

But that’s not the important part…

I picked myself off the pavement and took inventory: no broken bones, didn’t hit my head (helmet was on), just a few bad bruises and one cut. My bike seemed to still work. The driver asked if he should call an ambulance, I told him I would rub some dirt on it.

I got about a quarter mile from the scene when my bike stopped working. Thankfully we live in the time we do, and with a few buttons pressed I had an Uber on its way to carry me home.

The next day I realized how startled I felt.

If a car was behind me when I fell I would have been toast.

I was Rattled.

Here’s the thing about fear. The aforementioned important part.

It can only be overcome by voluntary exposure to the thing that frightens you. Conversely, the longer you stay away – the bigger your fear becomes.

That’s why it is best to do the thing your nervous about first in your work day. Getting it over with ensures the fear does not grow. You probably remember your days in the classroom; presenting first gave you a sense of relief, which then allowed you to actually focus on other presentations afterwards.

And, if a misstep happens, the sooner you can get back in the saddle – the less time you will give fear to grow.

I am happy to report the last two weeks I have resumed my biking to work successfully.

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Deeper Dive on Neuroscience Behind Fear

Bonus: Litany Against Fear

No writing on fear would be complete without dropping in the famous “litany against fear” which the main character of Dune, Paul, repeats to himself when he is afraid.

The Litany is as follows:

“I must not fear.

Fear is the mind-killer.

Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

I will face my fear.

I will permit it to pass over me and through me.

And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path.

Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”