Little Green Monsters

by Elizabeth on January 10, 2013


What Fear Can Teach Us

Instead of going the whole New Year’s Resolution route this year, I took a page from Leonie Dawson’s amazing life planner and made a list of a hundred things I wanted to do this year.  It’s not really goals, per se, but a list of things that, by the end of 2013, would be really cool to have done.  I did it last year, and again on a minor scale for both Summer and Autumn with the bucket lists, and I have to say:  it works better than most lists of stodgy “goals”, which seem, at least in my own head, to equate to actionables and a long to-do list that I’m much more likely to avoid with the strategic application of cookies than actually to do.

(Hey, I never said I was perfect.  Far from it, actually.)

One of the things on that list of 102 (I’m an overachiever) was to watch 20 really good TED talks.  I always seem to forget TED’s there, as this really great resource by people with really big brains, willing to share.  Inevitably, every time I watch a few of these things, I feel my horizons expanding, and I get a zillion and one new ideas from the new perspectives, and in 2013, I’m looking for some great big horizons.

Today’s random talk is the one linked above, by Karen Thompson Walker, and as talks go, it’s not all that exciting on the surface.  Walker’s a writer, and it shows in her delivery, but the story she tells is one that stuck with me:  that fear is a kind of divination, and that it’s an innate storytelling ability in all humans that makes Fear possible.  The key, she says, is to look at them as a reader would, of any other kind of story — with a dual mind, Artist/passion and Scientist/analytical.  Choosing which story to believe, then, turns Fear from this overwhelming, huge, very real to your brain kind of thing…into just what it is:  a story.

As someone who often lets her fears get really big, really scary, and really overwhelming, this was like a giant clue-by-four straight to my head.  Fears do occasionally come true.  But it’s rarely the most salacious of them that’s the real threat — it’s the small ones, the ones we don’t think about.  The fear of a heart attack after too many of those Avoidance Cookies, or of muscle loss from sitting here inactive.  And that it’s up to us to decide which fears are actually the ones that will come true.  We just have to read the right stories.

Go watch the talk, folks.   See if it doesn’t change your perceptions just a little bit today.

Happy 2013.

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