Friday, April 13, 2012

Everything to Fear but Fear Itself

I'm stuck.

Why is it, that we believe that our fears are wrongfully placed and we must stand up to them and do things that make us so woefully unhappy?

I believe there are two types of fear. Fear that protects us and Fear that holds us back.

Fear that holds us back is both positive and negative fear. It is, in truth like The Force (I know, since when do I quote Starwars?). It can be used for good or used for evil.

I'm scared of jumping. Let's face facts, that's a fear that holds me back. I just see a high jump and my gut twists, my pulse races and I'm scared. I am. I'm not even shy to admit that. BUT, I know that in part, my fear relates to a degree of self-preservation. The fear that protects us. I don't have a lot of experience jumping, and there's a lot more danger jumping then there is with four hooves planted on the ground doing dressage.

That being said, I don't have any fear when I kick my horse up to a gallop and fly across a field, even when my horse throws in a buck or deeks out at the last moment.

Why? Do I have no self-preservation instincts in this moment?

No. It's experience. Experience reduces or promotes fear. Positive experiences overcome fears. I've galloped a lot of horses. Fast horses. Off-the-track horses. Polo horses. Quarter horses. And overall, my experiences have all been positive.

That being said, I have positive jumping experiences. I've only once fallen off over jumps...well, once a horse bolted on me in a field while cantering, jumped a chain-gate and sent me flying over her head...and whalloped my head with her knee. I'm not sure to this day if that's a jumping-related accident or a flat-work accident...

Overall though, I should be comfortable, aye safe, with low level jumping. But I'm not.

However, my sensible side reminds me that the danger, at low levels is pretty minimal. Certainly no worse then galloping over fields or working dressage in a spooky ring. And so I remind myself of this and do it anyway. But I try to do it in a way that minimizes my fears. Is that bad? Probably not.

I use the fear that should hold me back in a positive way by taking pride in overcoming it. And facing it. But I remain respectful to the fact that it exists.

I think, perhaps I wonder, if we as a society have told ourselves, convinced each other, that fear is bad. Nasty. Weak people have fears. Unstable people have fears.

How foolish is that?

We all have fears.

But, how do we know where fear ends, and self-preservation begins?

We can't all be sky divers. Some of us are too scared. Is that a bad thing? Hardly.

We can't all rush out and jump 4'. Is that a bad thing? No. Show jumping would be a lot less impressive if we could all do it.

Our lives only last so long. I've come to realize, in the short time that I've walked the earth, that I haven't time for things I don't enjoy. I haven't time to waste doing things that scare the bejeebers out of me. I do have time for things that inspire me. Things that are challenging and just "scarey" enough to encourage me to work hard and be safe while doing it.

Sometimes, I wonder if I even actually feel "fear". My boss used to think I was scared of flying. I remember him once telling me I didn't have to go on a trip if it frightened me. I remember just staring at him. Scared?? No, not scared. Unsure. Nervous. But nervousness is not fear, is it? I often feel nervous. Sometimes when I haven't ridden in a couple of days, I get nervous riding to the barn. I get nervous just before going over a jump, no matter how small. I get nervous before shows, before public speaking, before asking Moon for a canter bareback.

But I wouldn't call it fear.

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