I've spent the day waffling between nervous anxiety and the attempt to shut down the fear in me over this upcoming trip. Something in me always rushes to the conclusion that something, or even everything, is going to go wrong and I'm going to be sorry that I even attempted something so bold. In an effort to attempt to settle myself, I run to definitions (yet again).
1. a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.
2. a specific instance of or propensity for such a feeling.
3. concern or anxiety; solicitude.
4. reverential awe, esp. toward god.
5. that which causes a feeling of being afraid; that of which a person is afraid.
When faced with anything "out of the norm" we face some level of fear. We are "distressed" because we feel that the situation may bring about some "impending danger" or "pain." I felt fear when I went to Zumba for the first time. I was afraid I would injure myself, or even embarrass myself. Changing our entire lifestyle to one of healthy living? That's pretty scary too! What if we fail? What if it causes us pain (hello, 5.5 hours hiking!) or discomfort? What if we get to where we want to be and we realize we're not "done"...not really? So, yes...there is fear involved.
And I remember that my drama teacher once spoke to us about fear. Her specific example was in regards to stage fright, but it also applies here. Fear is natural. It's our body reaction to something that is going to require more of us than we've been giving so far. It may even signal us to the impending pain. When we stand on the roof of a tall building, fear is what keeps us a safe distance from the ledge. (most of us anyhow) It's our survival instinct. It's our body's natural way of saying, "BE CAREFUL!"
Who was it that said, "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear." (I know it was in Princess Diaries, but surely it has a prior source?)
1. the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.
3. have the courage of one's convictions, to act in accordance with one's beliefs, esp. in spite of criticism.
(I deleted 2 because even dictionary.com says it's obsolete.) Courage, then, is a mind over body action. It's a way to talk ourselves into doing something difficult or challenging, even knowing that it could cause us fear. Because maybe it won't. Maybe our fear is unfounded. Or maybe the benefits far outweigh the possibility of what COULD go wrong. "Courage of one's convictions" is a good way to put it.
Storytime! When I was a kid I used to lie. All the time I would lie, to everyone. Someone would talk about this wonderful vacation they had in Myrtle Beach over the summer and I'd chime in with, "Oh, I've been there!" No. I hadn't been there. I didn't go there until I was married, had two kids, and was well in my 20's. I lied because I wanted to belong. I didn't want them to focus on what I didn't have, or what my family or even what I, personally, couldn't do - whether financially, or physically. It got to the point where I didn't even realize I was lying. I became so good at it that I nearly believed myself when I told a big whopper of a lie.
And then I had children and I realized that I couldn't really lie to them. I wanted to be honest and upfront and be the parent who said, "Yes. I smoked the wacky tobaccie" when they asked. (Thankfully for me, I never have - so I can say no and mean it!) I wanted honesty in my life...and I wanted to be honest with myself. So I started telling myself the truth, even if it hurt. I'd let out a lie out of habit, and then I'd ammend it. "No, wait. What am I saying? I've never been to Mexico." And I'm sure I looked like a darn fool, but I did it because I wanted to stick to the truth. I wanted to have the courage of my convictions. I wanted to be able to say something and have people believe me, because it was true. (Of course, there are little white lies to save another's feelings or a "leaving out" of parts of the truth now and again, I think that's healthy.)
So, yes. I am afraid. I am afraid I won't "look the part" because of my weight. I'm afraid I'll have a blah day and blow it. I'm afraid I'll miss my flight or things will run late and I'll have to pay a bunch of money to get home. But I realize now that there is some fear that I can overcome with courage. - I hold my head high and fake confidence until I start to feel it. I tell them even while telling myself that I'm worth their time and effort. And if I overcome that fear with my courage of convictions, then I'll be all the better for it. ...As for the other stuff? I can't control that. It's out of my hands. What comes will come and I will cross that bridge when I get to it.
The same can be said of our new healthy lifestyle changes. There are fears that we can solve by sheer force of will - mind over matter, baby! And then there are things we cannot. (No one can change their body shape. A big butt girl will almost always end up a big butt skinny girl, to some degree.) Hard work and courage can only conquer so much. So the next time you feel afraid to try something new, or put yourself out there, or just stick to your workout schedule because you have a case of the IDUNWANNAs or "I'm sick/tired/hurt from yesterday and it might cause me more pain"...you may have to realize that it's your fear talking. Your fear of change. And the only way past it is to put your mind to it, put one foot firmly in front of the other, and keep on moving.
I'll leave you with 2 more Courage quotes:
Every man has his own courage, and is betrayed because he seeks in himself the courage of other persons. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow. ~Mary Anne Radmacher