Thoughts About Fear

Central Florida SystemaWe are born with only 2 fears in life – the fear of loud noises and the fear of falling. At least that is what psychological research has concluded.

The 1001 other fears we learn. That is what the act of simply being alive has concluded.

Systema is one of the few arts that I have ever encountered that places a great  emphasis on dealing with fear. There is the fear of being hit. The fear of hitting (and thus, hurting) someone else. The fear of “meeting” the ground too hard and others.

In my own experiences, there is the fear of looking like an incompetent idiot in a large group (seminar) though that fear is not exclusive to Systema. The fear of everyone in class truly hating what I teach.  I am sure there are several others lurking about in the periphery somewhere, just waiting to rear its ugly head.

I think we can and do overcome certain fears, but as for others, perhaps the best we can do is make friends with them, so to speak. “Yes Fear, I feel you. I probably always will feel you, but you will not stop me from going forward. Don’t take this personally Fear, but go f#&@ yourself. Have a nice day. ” That and similar conclusions are noted only have we have the courage to face fear and see it for what it truly is.

What is fear?

Fear is a collection of our internal dialogue, a series of stories we tell ourselves – none of which is true. It is our imagination working overtime, either to protect us or to make us less. Fear is the language spoken by our ego.

Fear will tell us virtually anything to keep us away from making progress. It will fabricate, falsify, perjure, deceive and misrepresent. It will take on creative forms that seem real. It knows our secrets and uses them against us. It will argue with us, like a great lawyer or debate with us like a slick politician. Much like the latter, it has no soul. No boundaries. No conscience. It will promise and pledge in one breath, and betray us in the next one. It is a heartless liar.

Systema is the mirror that shows us what fear is truly all about. Each class, we deal with strikes and put one more nail in the coffin of fear. Each time we take a risk, even if the risk makes us look foolish temporarily, fear lessens its grip on us. When we feel like quitting and doing something “safe” like golf or more TV watching, but continue along the Systema path anyway, the darkness of fear is exposed to the light of courage.

Perhaps Eleanor Roosevelt said it best:

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this. I can take the next thing that comes along.’
You must do the thing you think you cannot do. “