I’m lucky to have supportive people in my social environment. My brother, Bill, and my friend, Mohammad, were both encouraging me to take a risk. It involved a woman. My wife and I split up a year and a half ago, and aside from a very brief fling, I haven’t been dating. I felt it was time to start in again, but found myself holding back. But there was a woman I was interested in. I was feeling I would like to get to know her, but I wasn’t following through.
“What am I afraid of?” I asked my brother. That she will say no, that she isn’t interested in getting to know me. He and I agreed, failure would be so devastating, that neither of us would risk it. He and I also agreed that this is a little over dramatic, but there it was.
My brother then shared with me the story of a friend of his who was always with a woman. His secret? He wasn’t afraid of rejection. What a difference that makes. When we aren’t afraid of rejection, than we are free to ask out as many people as we wish. And, of course, we shared the story with each other about how a ball player who only gets on base 3 times out of 10, ends up with a .300 average, very respectable.
We both agreed that not being afraid, that asking anyone you wanted to get to know was very reasonable. On the other hand, we aren’t dealing with reason, we are dealing with emotion. And emotion, by definition, isn’t reasonable.
Here I am looking back on that conversation with Bill, thinking what a wuss I was. Because, yes, I did talk to her, and I did get her number, and we are probably getting together this weekend.
Notwithstanding my fear, my fear of rejection, I will be getting together with her.
So what was the cause of the change? Two causes. One was the discussion with Bill, in which I examined my fear, my fear of rejection, and examined the devastation that could possibly result, and realized just how over dramatic I was being. So the first way to deal with fear, I learned, was to examine it, and see if it made any sense at all.
The second cause was my conversation with Mohammad. He said he thought my plan to ask her if she wanted to get a cup of coffee some time, sounded like a good idea, and encouraged me to ask her. He said he had my back. As long as he had my back, I figured how could it go wrong. And if it did, I could always blame him!
But it didn’t. So the second way I learned to overcome fear of taking an action was to have a friend tell you it’s okay to take it.
If there’s something you’ve been wanting to do, but have been hesitating about, I urge you to learn from me, and do the two things I did to overcome my fear, one, deeply examine the possible consequences, and two, get a friend to watch your back.
It worked for me.