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Overcoming Fear

novaw0lfnovaw0lf Veteran
edited February 2012 in Advanced Ideas
Since the beginning, my life has been a constant struggle against the grain of societal norms. Due to my belief structure and the order of my priorities, I have a tenacity to take the road less traveled, and I fear the criticism of others for doing so.

I am a person who is a master of holding my composure within the spotlight of disapproval, but inside, I constantly feel incredible fear. For instance, there was fear in making this very post, because I worry if I post too much, or that I write repetitive unnecessary information or opinions that no one will like or care about. Every time someone shows support for something that I say, I'm a bit shocked, because I truly expect disapproval long before I anticipate approval. Not too long ago, I made a post called "Gateway", a video of me reciting slam poetry. The opening of the video began with a disclaimer that brought to the audience's attention that the reason why I was posting this video was to help overcome my fear of public audiences. Never did I ever imagine the amount of positive feedback that it received: nearly 1,000 views and not a single dislike or negative comment about it.

I guess that I'm a paradoxical person, and a bit scarred from previous experiences, but I yearn to be heard and seen. I'm constantly writhed with self-doubt, fear, and a lack of self-confidence, but I act anyway. I guess that this could inadvertently project an illusion of false confidence to others who don't really know me, but in reality, I'm probably more afraid to step outside of my own front door than the average person. Yet, I'm the very same person who would jump from an airplane, or jump in front of a bullet for my loved ones. My fear is a torturous inhibition that I wish I didn't have; I wish that I could be fearless, but I am not. Ever.

Has anyone any advice for ridding myself of these inhibitions, in order to be a better leader and teacher for others?

Comments

  • Having the courage to be honest about the experience may help others more than you will ever know.
  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran
    I wish that I could be fearless, but I am not. Ever.
    Forgive my bluntness, but what I've learned from dealing with social anxiety (which it sort of sounds like you have at least to a certain extent), as well as Buddhism, is that this comparing of oneself *as one is* to an imagined, idealized self is really the problem.

    Something to ponder:
    Do your fears ever really realize themselves (i.e. "I fear rejection because I am often rejected), or is it merely your mind that's telling you that you will be rejected, even if you're not? If they do not realize themselves, then accepting your limitations is in order, I believe.
  • Maybe this might help:

  • Omg...your the one that did the video...where the hell have you been and why haven't you posted? :)

    I loved that video so much!

    Can I just say, @leonbasin does kinda the same thing you do, you could ask him what he does when he feels anxious...I think he use to do his poetry publicly.

    I'm the biggest scaredy cat around but like you, you want to challenge that.

    Think of a soldier going to war, don't you think he still battles with his own fears and insecurities? Yet, he still does what he needs to, that is called courage.

    Fear is nothing trying to be something.

    Dude, post your threads...who cares? But don't hide away your light.

    ...I'm glad your back. Don't leave, you have a fan!
  • No no, I'm NOT the monk from the video :-), I'm just an ordinary (beginner) lay follower. But I'm also a big "fan" of the monk who makes this videos. His teachings are very good.

    You can find more of his videos on his youtube channel:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/yuttadhammo/videos?view=pl

    And there is also a forum:
    http://ask.sirimangalo.org/

    And lots of other online stuff (facebook, radio sessions, online meditation together), but of those things I don't know a lot...

    But again, I'm not the monk from the video and it was never my intention to act as if I were him. I respect him way to much for that...
  • I have a tenacity to take the road less traveled, and I fear the criticism of others for doing so.

    I am a person who is a master of holding my composure within the spotlight of disapproval, but inside, I constantly feel incredible fear.

    For instance, there was fear in making this very post, because I worry if I post too much, or that I write repetitive unnecessary information or opinions that no one will like or care about.

    Every time someone shows support for something that I say, I'm a bit shocked, because I truly expect disapproval long before I anticipate approval.

    I guess that I'm a paradoxical person,

    but I yearn to be heard and seen.

    I'm constantly writhed with self-doubt, fear, and a lack of self-confidence, but I act anyway. My fear is a torturous inhibition that I wish I didn't have; I wish that I could be fearless, but I am not. Ever.

    Has anyone any advice for ridding myself of these inhibitions, in order to be a better leader and teacher for others?
    Are you really as tenacious as you consider? Is tenacity espressing itself well here? Why should you care what others think of your tenacious approach?

    How masterful are you if it is just a facade?

    What was the purpose of the post? Was it to share something or was it to seek approval for what you did? For someone to say, 'hey that was good' so you can believe it yourself? Do you actually believe in yourself?

    Expecting disapproval or approval are the sides of the same illusion - by expecting, you are bound to be disappointed.

    Examine the paradox and reconcile it.

    Perhaps your fear is good at this stage - perhaps it is guiding you where you need to be?

    Yearning for something opens you up to disappointment - so much better not to yearn and just be there - consider examining why it is that you yearn and perhaps consider how you can deal with your challenges whether or not you are to be a leader or a teacher of others - teaching and leading ourselves is a task in itself.
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    Fear is so wondrous that the idea of being unafraid can scare the pants off any of us. Who would I be without my worries, my concerns, my defenses, my philosophies, my ... my 'me?'

    This may sound ridiculous, but check it out. The fact is that I love my fears and worries. It cements my notion of who I am.

    For those inclined, a patient and courageous and determined meditation can help straighten things out.
  • @sofa oh...no, sorry I was talking about open, not the monk video.

    Open put up a slam poetry video on front page. Check it out!

  • I guess that I'm a paradoxical person, and a bit scarred from previous experiences, but I yearn to be heard and seen.
    I think this quote kind of sums up your problem.

    The root of all fear is ignorance and the selfishness that arises from that ignorance. The things you do have a selfish element to them that makes you afraid.

    To be selfless is to be fearless. Of course this is easier said than done, but to recognize that fact is a start.

  • novaw0lfnovaw0lf Veteran
    edited February 2012
    The things you do have a selfish element to them that makes you afraid.
    That's true in many cases, but not all. A person can still feel fear if they ran into a burning building to save someone. What is selfish about risking one's own life to save another?
    Fear is so wondrous that the idea of being unafraid can scare the pants off any of us. Who would I be without my worries, my concerns, my defenses, my philosophies, my ... my 'me?'
    Why does fear define you?
    Think of a soldier going to war, don't you think he still battles with his own fears and insecurities? Yet, he still does what he needs to, that is called courage.
    ...Yeah, actually...uhh, I was one of them. Here is an article that I wrote. http://www.writerwolven.com/articles/politics/forallmankind.php

    Part of the reason why I expect to be reprimanded so much was because I have been. I jumped from a burning building in Bahrain (just one of countless times that I've been reprimanded) to save people who may be inside, disobeying direct orders, who wounded up not being in the building at all. I acted because I felt as if we weren't doing everything that we could save who we could.

    And thank you for your support. ^^; I'm not going anywhere. There'll definitely be more videos in the future.
    oneself *as one is* to an imagined, idealized self is really the problem.
    That hits hard. You'd be surprised at just how accurate you are when you say that I compare myself to an "imagined, idealized self".
    Expecting disapproval or approval are the sides of the same illusion - by expecting, you are bound to be disappointed.
    Very true. I know that I should act without fear of what other people think, but I do. Because I know this, I act as if I weren't afraid of what people think, even though I am.
    Do your fears ever really realize themselves (i.e. "I fear rejection because I am often rejected), or is it merely your mind that's telling you that you will be rejected, even if you're not?
    GOOD question. I guess I have difficulty determining the difference now.
    What was the purpose of the post?
    The purpose was to deliberately expose myself to the opinions of others, not to press myself on them but to leave myself open, despite how scared I actually am in reality. My problem is that I wish that I just didn't feel that fear anymore, that I acted because I was truly fearless instead of projecting fearlessness.
  • ^Oh and above, with the link that I posted. I'm sorry, I realized that that can sort of come off as a kind of advertisement. I didn't intend that.

    http://newbuddhist.com/discussion/comment/238094#Comment_238094

    Here is the link to having posted my article here on this site a while ago.
  • I don't see your "fear "as a problem...
    just like I don't view my "sadness, or suffering " as a problem that I want to get rid off.

    I see these "weaknesses" as super powers...they are the opposite side of a coin...fear turns to courage and sadness into joy...suffering into loving kindness.

    So you could try to change your perspective or the way you see these emotions...they could beyour fuel to positive action.

    Besides how will you know when you are acting brave, courages, kind, compassionate, loving, when you have nothing to compare it too.

    Seems to me that you have acted against your nature to flee, many times.

    I'm very grateful for your service.
  • GuiGui Veteran
    IMHO fear of rejection comes from ego. The bigger the ego, the bigger the fear. OP asks for advice....work on recognizing and reducing ego.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited February 2012
    For me you seem so courageous because you express yourself quite well. As a person who also has fears, you're putting yourself out there makes me recognize a part of me that also feels good doing that.

    I will say that it is in some ways idiotic and knee-jerk my response which may be cartooning you up. For one thing I really don't feel like attacking you because I feel really bad about what the soldiers go through. Not that there is any particular reason to attack you. I wanted you to succeed from that performance video. Maybe vicariously hhe.
  • novaw0lfnovaw0lf Veteran
    edited February 2012
    I'm very grateful for your service.
    I've NEVER met so many people who openly thank service members. Holy shit. Thank ALL of you. To me, service itself isn't really that big of a deal. I don't mention that part of my history for praise; I mention it for the sake of credibility, to show that I have personal experience behind whatever point that I'm trying to make, never for praise.
    IMHO fear of rejection comes from ego. The bigger the ego, the bigger the fear. OP asks for advice....work on recognizing and reducing ego.
    I think that you're absolutely right; I am incredibly egotistical. The fact that I would write anything at all for anyone to read is egocentricity. But is this a bad thing?

  • For me you seem so courageous because you express yourself quite well. As a person who also has fears, you're putting yourself out there makes me recognize a part of me that also feels good doing that.

    I will say that it is in some ways idiotic and knee-jerk my response which may be cartooning you up. For one thing I really don't feel like attacking you because I feel really bad about what the soldiers go through. Not that there is any particular reason to attack you. I wanted you to succeed from that performance video. Maybe vicariously hhe.
    Everyone on this forum is so amazing! I love this website.
  • I am incredibly egotistical. The fact that I would write anything at all for anyone to read is egocentricity. But is this a bad thing?


    rather than good or bad - consider the effects of allowing your ego to set the agenda.
  • I don't understand.
  • @novaw0lf

    Your personality is similar to mine. I do, however have less anxiety than you do, but it's still there.

    What has helped me lessen my anxiety is empathy (hope I'm using the term correctly here). I started to see that other people have mostly the same fears and feelings as I do because they're human, so I shouldn't feel so fearful. They are going through the same things I am. And at times when I'm worried about what others will think of me, I imagine myself in their shoes and take an educated guess as to how they would feel about what I'm doing. Most of the time this works, because we're all human and have general fears that are common to all of us, and most of the time is good enough.

    When you are more confident about what others are feeling about you, your anxiety will lessen. They are just as afraid of you as you are of them.
  • OP: I'm a little confused.

    When I look at those other sites about you I don't see the following at all:

    "I fear the criticism of others..."

    "I constantly feel incredible fear."

    "I truly expect disapproval long before I anticipate approval."

    "a bit scarred from previous experiences"

    "I'm constantly writhed with self-doubt, fear, and a lack of self-confidence"

    "I'm probably more afraid to step outside of my own front door than the average person."

    "My fear is a torturous inhibition that I wish I didn't have; I wish that I could be fearless, but I am not. Ever."


    So my question is...which is you...what you wrote here, or what is on those other sites?
  • ZeroZero Veteran
    edited February 2012

    I am incredibly egotistical.

    The fact that I would write anything at all for anyone to read is egocentricity.

    But is this a bad thing?


    Starting at whether it is bad or not - good and bad are subjective - I dont know what your moral code is so I cant assess whether something is 'good' or 'bad' for you - the bigger question is 'is anything really good or bad?" or 'can anything be good or bad?'

    Ponder on this and consider what constitutes good and / or bad and play with the concepts in your mind - meditate and discuss - rinse and repeat.

    If it would help, I dont consider good or bad issues - things just are as they are - there is a cause and an effect - I am more interested in cause and effect - the good or bad can take care of itself - this is just me though - see where you go with it.

    Sharing your ideas as an act is not necessarily an act of ego - sharing can also be born by alturism - by definition there is no expectation of reciprocity and therefore can alturism be said to be driven by ego? therefore, it is possible for you to speak and share without seeking anything in return.

    You state you are egotistical - if you do not exist however, then what is driving you? If 'self' is an illusion then what is driving you? if you state that you are egotistical then who can challenge that label you have put on yourself? where and what is this ego that drives you, that you succumb to, that you powerlessly acknowledge?

    Research and read the various philosophies (in buddhism and beyond) that deal with the ego and self - ponder and meditate and consider whether it is something you wish to address, something you can address and then the action you will need to address that - ponder and meditate and discuss - rinse and repeat.

    There is a lifetime of journey right there.
  • You state you are egotistical - if you do not exist however, then what is driving you? If 'self' is an illusion then what is driving you? if you state that you are egotistical then who can challenge that label you have put on yourself? where and what is this ego that drives you, that you succumb to, that you powerlessly acknowledge?
    Wow. You're right. I am egotistical because I say that I am egotistical, even though from my point of view, I'm only striving to be honest and self-aware, unafraid to be who I am. This identifies a weakness in my character. Thank you.
  • @novaw0lf I know how you feel. I'm kind of the same way. And I think that you can work past your fear if you...um...take a deep breath?

    No, I'll be honest, I'm not that good at giving advice about fear (because I am fearful, too), but listing all of your positive traits might help. Also not caring about what other people think might help. Although I have no idea how to get to that point...

    Sorry, this response was not very helpful, but I understand how you feel.
  • This identifies a weakness in my character. Thank you.
    I hope it helps.

    Think of it less of a weakness and more just another facet of your fascinating self - it provides you with a wonderful opportunity to live and experience and also share - I have learnt an incredible amount from your posts and our exchange - not such a weakness now eh? Perhaps as your weaknesses are so strong, you should consider your strenghts now :D
  • I don't think you are any more egotistical than any other artist. I believe you write poetry and want to write stories/books. This kind of work is a much more personal expression than other types of work, such as production or service driven jobs where people are not invested personally nor judged for their opinions and style.

    First forays into the art world, exposing your thoughts to a possibly uncaring or critical public IS scary. But, as you say, you are driven, and at some point you WILL come to terms with it and just do it. Find some support in your circle of friends or relatives.

    My husband is a visual artist -- his first shows made him extremely nervous. Having witnessed this, I understand the nature of your work -- it needs an audience. The nervousness/fear is part of the process and it gets easier as you gain experience and acceptance. You say you want to be seen and heard - and you will be, when you're ready. Keep working on your content, and once you are really satisfied, things will fall into place.

    Btw. you write very well.
  • The things you do have a selfish element to them that makes you afraid.
    "That's true in many cases, but not all. A person can still feel fear if they ran into a burning building to save someone. What is selfish about risking one's own life to save another"?

    I agree that it is much less selfish than many other things, but think about it logically and try and be honest with yourself. What is it that makes you feel fear when running into a burning building? Is it the fact that you could die or be permanently scarred? what would happen if your were permanently scarred? Are you afraid that would affect your social life? your chances of getting the job you want or the girl you want? why do you fear not being able to get that job or that girl? etc...... So, do you really fear running into the building or the results from them, which may be losing the ability to indulge in those selfish pleasures?

    This is just an example, but I think you get the idea. What do you think?
  • This identifies a weakness in my character. Thank you.


    I hope it helps.

    Think of it less of a weakness and more just another facet of your fascinating self - it provides you with a wonderful opportunity to live and experience and also share - I have learnt an incredible amount from your posts and our exchange - not such a weakness now eh? Perhaps as your weaknesses are so strong, you should consider your strenghts now :D
    ...thank you. Perhaps I'm so hard on myself that what I consider to be my personality weaknesses, others consider to be strengths.

    @nlighten :: You have a very good point. I never thought of it that way. Without a sense of self, there is no fear; how can there be a sense of self-preservation if there is no self?
  • I don't think you are any more egotistical than any other artist. I believe you write poetry and want to write stories/books. This kind of work is a much more personal expression than other types of work, such as production or service driven jobs where people are not invested personally nor judged for their opinions and style.

    First forays into the art world, exposing your thoughts to a possibly uncaring or critical public IS scary. But, as you say, you are driven, and at some point you WILL come to terms with it and just do it. Find some support in your circle of friends or relatives.

    My husband is a visual artist -- his first shows made him extremely nervous. Having witnessed this, I understand the nature of your work -- it needs an audience. The nervousness/fear is part of the process and it gets easier as you gain experience and acceptance. You say you want to be seen and heard - and you will be, when you're ready. Keep working on your content, and once you are really satisfied, things will fall into place.

    Btw. you write very well.
    Thank you very much! You're all such wonderful kind people. Even those who would disagree with me are very tactful and respectful. That's what I love so much about this little neck of the internet.

  • @novaw0lf I know how you feel. I'm kind of the same way. And I think that you can work past your fear if you...um...take a deep breath?

    No, I'll be honest, I'm not that good at giving advice about fear (because I am fearful, too), but listing all of your positive traits might help. Also not caring about what other people think might help. Although I have no idea how to get to that point...

    Sorry, this response was not very helpful, but I understand how you feel.
    Don't kid yourself; it was incredibly helpful. Just the fact that there is someone out there who can truly understand means that I am not alone, and that in itself is helpful to know. It reassures a person, and thank you for being there to speak about it.
  • You have a very good point. I never thought of it that way. Without a sense of self, there is no fear; how can there be a sense of self-preservation if there is no self?
    @novaw0lf I think that it then becomes a choice instead of a necessity. It gives you freedom.

  • @nlighten :: You have a very good point. I never thought of it that way. Without a sense of self, there is no fear; how can there be a sense of self-preservation if there is no self?

    How about the fear for someone else's safety? Worrying for others, eg your kids etc
  • @Lostie I don't think that it is necessary to have fear in order to love someone or want to protect some one and keep them safe, in fact I think in inhibits our ability to feel love in a pure way. Sometimes we love in unpure and very selfish ways that are because of fear.

    There was a time when I was practicing Tonglen and White Tara meditation regularly and understood this much more clearly than I do now, but I found this quote by Pema Chodron that I think explains it well.

    Pema Chodron said, "In order to have compassion for others, we have to have compassion for ourselves." She writes that in Tibetan Buddhism there is a practice called tonglen, which is a kind of meditation practice for helping us connect to our own suffering and the suffering of others.

    "Tonglen reverses the usual logic of avoiding suffering and seeking pleasure and, in the process, we become liberated from a very ancient prison of selfishness. We begin to feel love both for ourselves and others and also we begin to take care of ourselves and others.
    It awakens our compassion and it also introduces us to a far larger view of reality. It introduces us to the unlimited spaciousness that Buddhists call shunyata. By doing the practice, we begin to connect with the open dimension of our being."
  • It is great that you go ahead and do things anyway, but I would suggest changing the "negative talk" that is going on in your head to a positive talk, never allowing your mind to think negative, and then your fear will leave.
  • edited February 2012
    210-211

    Don't ever — regardless —
    be conjoined with what's dear
    or undear.
    It's painful
    not to see what's dear
    or to see what's not.

    So don't make anything dear,
    for it's dreadful to be far
    from what's dear.
    No bonds are found
    for those for whom
    there's neither dear
    nor undear.
    212-216

    From what's dear is born grief,
    from what's dear is born fear.
    For one freed from what's dear
    there's no grief
    — so how fear?

    From what's loved is born grief,
    from what's loved is born fear.
    For one freed from what's loved
    there's no grief
    — so how fear?

    From delight is born grief,
    from delight is born fear.
    For one freed from delight
    there's no grief
    — so how fear?

    From sensuality is born grief,
    from sensuality is born fear.
    For one freed from sensuality
    there's no grief
    — so how fear?

    From craving is born grief,
    from craving is born fear.
    For one freed from craving
    there's no grief
    — so how fear?
    (Dhammapada chapter 16: Piyavagga: Dear Ones)
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