How to Face your Fears


I got my partner to open up a bit about what he was worried about when it came to moving to Japan today.

It was nice.

We have talked for about two hours now about his thoughts and fears about the whole process, but we mainly focused on his fears and how to address them. Mainly, his fear of failure. He was worried about ‘wasting’ his time if we, for whatever reason, come back after a couple of years.

The big thing that he said was, “Well, we’ll have just spent two years learning Japanese for nothing.”

I pointed out that it wouldn’t have been for nothing at all, and that if he managed to get up to N2 or even the hallowed N1 level of language skills, then he could certainly use that if we came back. It would be great on his resume, for a start, but it would also open up a lot more job prospects for the both of us.

We wouldn’t have ‘lost’ anything at all by going to Japan. We’d have succeeded at going to Japan; we’d have simply come back here afterwards. He smiled at that.

We talked about family and about what would happen if we got sick or had car troubles. We discussed how to go about making friends and what sorts of things we could do over there in between work.

It was quite lovely actually.

I knew that this would happen when we put the idea of moving country out into the world. It would become real for him, and he’d worry about what could go wrong.

We’re similar in the fact that we have a tendency to ruminate, but I will focus on finding a problem and flipping it to a positive, whereas he will try to work out how to stop the bad thing from happening, which you can’t always do. That’s where he gets stuck.

Life, like a plotline, will always throw you curve-balls at you. And, like characters in books, what makes or breaks us is how we get up again.

Think of the characters that have really stuck with you: I bet they all, whether ‘good’ or ‘bad’ have been the ones who kept on going. Characters who refuse to let obstacles stand in their way are the ones that we tend to be drawn to the most.

Why is that?

We have a tendency, as we get older, to limit ourselves, even if we don’t realise that we are. We say, ‘Oh, I couldn’t possibly do that, because of this,’ or, ‘I’d love to, but…’ 

But the characters we come back to again and again, don’t do that. 

They have a dream, and they focus on it. They refuse to let things stand in their way, and push through, despite it all. Sometimes, they won’t get exactly what they want, but in the process of trying to reach their goal, they will find something far more important.

It is a universal desire that we all share; a need for connection, either to the people around us, the places or the land and animals, we all need something.

For my partner, realising that he is moving forward is enough. Learning that life is a process and that nothing we ever do is wasted, and that it all adds up to the total that is us, was what he needed to hear. He realised that a life spent avoiding things that might go wrong, instead of figuring out how to make the best of it when it does, was a life spent never doing anything.

So, if you’re stuck in the same loop, or your characters in the story that you are writing are, then ask yourself some basic questions:

  1. What might go wrong?
  2. If that thing does go wrong, then what’s the most likely outcome of that situation?
  3. What would I/my character do if that happened?
  4. How could I turn that to my advantage/what would be the upside/what would I learn from that experience?

It is the fourth point that I spend the most time focusing on, because that is actually the most crucial part of the whole process. I’ve found that people tend to get stuck on three. Yes, three is important too, but for every answer you find to three, you must then move on to four. That is how you move forward. That is how you change your character/self from a person who is stuck in limbo, to someone who can face their fears. 

I’m not discounting how scary they are, believe me, I know. But I am saying that you can move past them. Even the worst things imaginable can still be overcome. You can achieve your dreams, and so can your characters, all you need to do is keep searching for those silver linings.

They are there, I promise you.

You aren’t failing if you don’t give up. Remember those characters, and remember step four.

Sophie, signing out.

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