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 allow fear 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.
— The Litany Against Fear of the Bene Gesserit
Every time I lift weights, I feel that fear in the back of my head. When
doing squats, I fear the possibility that I’ll get down into the hole
and be unable to push the weight back up, potentially risking serious
injury to my knees and hips, even though I know full well that I have
bars setup at just below hip level to catch the weight in the event that
I get stuck. When I bench press, I fear the possibility of being caught
underneath the bar as it touches my chest, unable to push it back up
because I am weak, even though I know full well that I can just roll the
bar off my chest and then do a reverse rack pull down onto the floor.
When I deadlift, I fear the possibility that I will round my lower back
on my heaviest sets; having experienced the excruciating pain that comes
from tearing muscles in the lower back, that is not an outcome I ever
want to face again.
I still have not overcome the crippling fear that comes from approaching cute women and opening them for conversations.
I fear failure. I fear rejection. I fear loss of control. I fear these things because I fear what I might become if I experience them too often- a mere shell of a man, warped, twisted, unable to control his own fate.
Fear is always there. It will always be there. There
is no getting around this fact. All I can do- all any of us can do- is
work with it and around it. And that only comes with practice.
Take powerlifting as an example. There are, as Jack Donovan pointed out, 4 masculine virtues–
Strength, Courage, Mastery, and Honour. Powerlifting is one of the very
few activities that give you the opportunity to demonstrate all four.
Courage, in particular, is a defining characteristic of a serious,
drug-free powerlifter. You have to have real courage to lift absurd
amounts of weight without pharmaceutical assistance, in the face of your
own fear and in the face of public disapproval of what you’re doing.
Let’s face facts- most people don’t understand powerlifting and think
that those who lift correctly and with good technique are doing
something “weird” or “unnatural”. Courage is not the absence of fear; that is stupidity. Courage is the ability to face your fear, acknowledge
its presence, and put it to one side because you know that your fear is
only holding you back.
There is only one approach that I have found to be effective
for confronting and conquering fear- any kind of fear, whether it be
fear of failing an exam or fear of getting rejected when talking to a
hot girl. You start slowly, building discipline and strength and confidence,
moving one step at a time until you know exactly what it takes to
succeed. Once you realise what you are truly capable of, that fear will
begin to recede. All you need to begin is discipline and willpower- and
not all that much of either, in fact. You face your fear, one little victory at a time, over a long period of training and discipline.
Make no mistake, though- there is no call for being stupid. Fear exists
for a very good reason. It stops us from hurting ourselves. It’s an instinctive evolutionary reaction to the things that can harm us- the fear you feel
when you try to deadlift 455lbs is the same fear that our Paleolithic
forbears felt when confronting a sabre-toothed tiger or a short-faced
bear, and for the same reason. If you go out every night just to bang easy girls, you are denying your mission in life, your purpose, your reason for being a man. (The one exception to this is if your mission is, in fact, to bang hot and loose women- in which case, by all means do carry on.) While I find speed limits on roads to be largely arbitrary and almost entirely stupid- especially so given that the police themselves flout those same rules with monotonous regularity- there is no good reason to drive recklessly and endanger both yourself and others. While I absolutely support the right to keep and bear arms, there is no call for being stupid by leaving those arms around for idiots and children to take and use.
I will be the first to admit that I’m not always great at practicing what I preach. The fact that I have been crazy busy at work for over a year now is not an excuse for the fact that I am still largely incapable of approaching women, in whatever capacity. I am a deep introvert by nature, and the already difficult task of overcoming fear is made even more difficult by this fact. But, unlike many men who simply accept this fate, I am determined to do something about it. That is why I started this blog- to help me achieve my goal of being the best man I can be. And that means confronting and overcoming fear, in all of its insidious forms.
When you confront your fear, you become a stronger and better man for it. Once again, I turn to powerlifting because that is the most effective analogy that I can find. Once you know how to lift heavy weights correctly, through constant
drills, warm-ups, and heavy reps, you will have a very good idea of what
your body can- and perhaps more importantly, cannot- do. And when you
master good technique, you’ll know that the only real penalty for
failure is, well, a failed set. Big deal, so what. As long as you hit
failure under safe and controlled circumstances, as long as you didn’t
injure yourself in your heaviest set because you took the right
precautions and lifted with correct technique, there is always next time.
So the next time you find yourself facing a bar with so much weight on
it that you begin to doubt yourself, remember that you were able to lift
5lbs less without hurting yourself. Next time you get blown out of 20 sets in a row when approaching women, remember that there is always the 21st to look forward to. Next time you fail to get promoted because some ball-busting bitch in HR has it out for you, remember that you are smarter and better than she is and look forward to the day when you can tell HR to perform an anatomically impossible act. Remember that the penalty for
failure is not nearly as steep as your mind wants you think it is.
Remember that if you do this right, your strength will increase, and you will achieve the goals and results you seek.
Remember, above all, that fear only has power over you if you let it have that power.
I leave you with two songs that have always helped me face and understand my own fear: