Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Just Do It

Do you remember a show called Fear Factor? A group of six people would submit themselves to an onslaught of disgusting or terrifying trials in the hopes of winning a grand prize of $50,000. Some of those trials included being covered with scorpions, eating bull testicles or jumping out of a helicopter. As an audience, we would watch with bated breath, wondering how in the world did they manage? From my observation, they never stopped being afraid or disgusted. They simply barreled ahead, mind focused on one phrase: "Just do it".

Defeating the fears that have frozen your progress can be thawed with the same mindset. In my case, I have had to stop avoiding their existence. Shoving them into a box and locking the lid doesn't defeat them, that merely muffles their cries. They still have power over me. I know because if that lock becomes broken, I'm anxious for them to appear. Like the Bogart in Harry Potter, the potential for fear sets me quaking. "What will they say this time? How will they have grown, transformed?" Out of sight, out of mind doesn't work.

Disgust attempts this tactic but Myths breaks the lock divulging her deepest fears to the other aspects, aspects she sees as inferior. She sees herself as the "strong one" because she doesn't break form. Her image is pristine. She is always calm and collected, never giving anything away. In my mind, she is the perfect PR representative: informed, intelligent, cold. She doesn't allow herself to feel.

No matter how much denial she uses to coat on a smirk and feign disinterest, the underbelly of her existence is fueled by the desire to never appear foolish. That's what disgust is, after all, "a feeling of revulsion or profound disapproval aroused by something unpleasant or offensive" (Google definition). The things that make us go "ew" are often morally or physically offensive and we elevate ourselves to be "above" those who would stoop so low as to engage in such an act. Mind you, there are gross things out there, like Hawaiian pizza, but the superior status stands even in this.

The act of superiority separates Disgust from the other aspects, but it also disconnects her. When we fear vulnerability we essentially cut ourselves off from our community. Covering up our mistakes and failures to appear perfect makes us less human. (Do you know of one person who has no regrets?) Lack of vulnerability leaves us with a pristine image of deleted blemishes. With that appearance, people assume we can't relate. We are too far removed from the dirt of life. Isolation begins. Before we know it, we are an island unto ourselves. The only way off this island is to build a raft out of our true identities, both good and bad combined, so we can rejoin our tribe.

It's a Catch-22 situation. The only way to defeat our fear of vulnerability is by being vulnerable. We have to let the mask(s) fall to reveal our scars and we have to engage our hearts. This is best done with a trusted member of your tribe, someone who loves you unconditionally and has your best in mind. You can begin with a small trickle of truth or relinquish the dam you've built all at once. The process isn't so important as is the willingness to accept yourself for all your imperfections and share it with another. The telling is what keeps us connected and honest. The how is just window dressing.

Fear will try to talk you out of it, but remember that the grand prize of connections and community is worth it. Barrel ahead and just do it.

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