The Fear Of Regret Is Worst Of All
A few weeks ago, a commenter by the name of The Lucky Lothario commented on my post here, seeking a bit of advice since we’re the same age at 22. I really appreciated his thoughts on how my postings had inspired him to be better than he was:
Damn son, flicking through your blog again having re-discovered it in my subscriptions, I’m almost embarrassed how much better you’re doing than me at the same age. I say almost, because it inspires me to be better than myself, in particular better than I am at the moment.
There’s not a lot of guys that age writing in the ‘Sphere, so it was cool to have someone to talk to who was in a similar position. I remember briefly scanning his blog and finding a couple of interesting posts, but I really enjoyed his post on the three types of fears he’s dealing with in his life.
Almost all of the problems I face stem from fear. This is not a single form of fear but instead affects my (and ultimately every man’s) life in myriad ways.
What is fear? Is it an emotion? Where does that emotional reaction derive from – perhaps the physical sensations we feel throughout our body when we feel uncomfortable? A sort of chemical imbalance? Is fear a reflex that we have no control over when we’re put in an uncomfortable situation?
I believe the answer is YES to all of the above. The good news is that, like anything, you can overcome it and train yourself to not only not fear, but to embrace it and use it to channel inner motivation and passion beyond what you are normally capable of. Think of it as of a shot of adrenaline right before you step on stage to perform.
I want to discuss all three of Lucky’s “pillars” of fear. These are not words of advice to him, but more my general thoughts on his excellent post. #1:
Fear of action being most obvious. (Not speaking my mind, not approaching, not making that phone call). This exhibits itself through a series of “nots” or things that I didn’t do.
I don’t believe much in a fear of action. Nobody fears actually approaching and talking to the pretty girl; they fear her reaction. There is a subtle difference. If you knew that, with 100% certainty, that pretty girl was going to be open to a conversation, go on an instant date with you, go home with you and fuck your brains out, then make you a sandwich, would you fear going up and talking to her? Fuck no, you would not. You’d be smirking like a trademark alpha male. Instead, the fear comes from the power she has over you when you make yourself vulnerable with the approach. You fear her rejecting you, calling you a creep, slapping you in the face, and a variety of other horrible things that could potentially happen instead of the much happier first scenario. So how do you combat that?
As I mentioned in this field report, I personally go with the “doomsday” approach. I imagine the worst possible scenario. I walk up to a pretty girl, she yells “creep!”, and runs away. That’s probably the worst, most humiliating outcome possible for me, personally. As I imagine this scenario, I like to picture dozens of strangers around us, laughing at me as I hang my head in shame and walk away with my penis tucked in between my legs. The likeliness of this happening? Very, very little. But picturing it allows me to come to terms with it and accept it as the worst possible outcome.
I also look at rejections on the bright side. If you approach a cutie at the bar and she throws a drink on you, that is an awesome story to tell. You and your buddies can joke about that one for the next year. If she simply says, “No thanks, not interested,” it’ll sting for about a minute but then you’ll be over it. That’s not very exciting.
Instead, fear not taking action.
Fear of judgement. I find myself often judging my own thoughts as they may be perceived by others. I often allow myself to care more about what others think of me than what I think of myself.
I don’t know who the original author of this quote is, but I think it’s perfect for this situation.
“If you could see yourself the way others see you, you would be amazed.”
Understand that you and you alone are the most critical person of yourself. Nobody notices your own flaws the way you do, nobody criticizes your shortcomings more than yourself, and nobody gives as much of a shit about you as you’d like to think. Everybody else is too wrapped up in their own insecurities to ever give a shit about anyone else. Learning to not care what anyone thinks makes you free.
Do you fear being judged, or not being judged? Once again, if you knew with 100% certainty that people would judge you in a good light, there would be no fear. Nobody can give you a chance to be judged in a good light if they aren’t presented the same chance to judge you in a bad light.
Fear of failure. Separate from fear of action, this fear creeps in and acts to censor my own thoughts and desires. If I can deny to myself that I even want a certain thing then I do not have to face the possibility of failing in its pursuit.
I believe a fear of failure is a cop out for fearing the blood, sweat, and tears that come from success. Success is never easy. Not challenging yourself enough, procrastinating, and perfectionism are all at the core of the fear of failure. However, I pose this question: when was the last time you regretted giving your all? If you played basketball when you were younger, even if you weren’t good, there was some condolence even in losing times that you gave it your all. If you didn’t hustle back on defense, didn’t dive on the floor for that loose ball, you would feel like a failure.
If you sweat, sprinted, and dove all over the place, you’d still lose, but the difference is that the feeling of failure is absent. Perhaps then, the fear of failure is simply a fear of doing the work. There is no life without success, and therefore, there is no life without failure. You must accept the fact that sometimes, you will be beaten, battered, and think you’re living the shittiest life ever, but also accept the fact that there is a chance of success with each passing day. Instead of fearing failing, fear never giving yourself a chance to experience success.
There is a fear worse than any of the previous three: the fear of regret.
This means the fear of not taking action, for not being given the chance to be judged, and for not giving yourself the chance to succeed because you fear failure.
You will never regret approaching the pretty girl even if she humiliates you. You will always regret not approaching her and taking action.
You will never regret putting your whole personality out there for the world to see, even if some people hate you. You will always regret withholding your personality within your confined walls because you feared judgment.
You will never regret going for the promotion at work, even if you are turned down. You will always regret not going for it because you feared failure.
You will regret a lot of things if you don’t take start taking action, so get out there and conquer that. Good luck.