What fear keeps you up at night?

Photo courtesy of Kevin B 3 (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of Kevin B 3 (Creative Commons)

It’s been several nights in a row of seeing every hour during the night. Wide awake, tossing, willing myself to sleep, getting even more frustrated as the minutes creep by inching toward the time when I have to get up and try to function through another day.

It takes more coffee in the morning to get going. I am irritable with frayed nerves all day, only to find myself staring at the clock yet again all night.

When I go through periods like this, it is usually some amorphous fear that ends up being at the bottom of the cycle. Fear has a way of being transparent like that, eating away at you and causing all sort of problems behind the scenes, while managing to avoid detection.

The only way I know to deal with this kind of situation is to shine a spotlight on that fear, identify it, name it, and then face off to fight it.

Many times, the fears are so vague that they seem silly when you finally recognize them. Some, like health concerns, money, or relationships, are very real, but can be dealt with if you meet them head on and take action. Getting that medical checkup, putting away savings, or having that difficult conversation will help you fight those fears.

Then there are the fears that may always haunt you, but can be put to rest by adjusting your outlook.

Let me give you an example. Last year, I registered to run the Country Music Half Marathon here in Nashville. About a week or so before race day, I starting having trouble sleeping.  At first, I chalked it up to work issues, allergies, whatever excuse I could come up with.

Then I realized that whenever I started thinking about the race, I got nervous. You know, the kind of butterflies in your stomach, jittery kind of nervous. The distance wasn’t a problem – my long run every week is 10 miles, so 13.1 miles is not that much of a stretch. I had done the race the year before and knew pretty much what to expect. I had detailed instructions on where to go, where to park, what I needed to bring, etc.

Then it finally dawned on me. I was worried about not having a good race time and letting people down.

Once I named my fear – I felt better. Instead of it keeping me unsettled and nervous, I turned to fight it. I realized that all I needed to do was to run 13.1 miles. The people closest to me – my family, friends, and running buddy – did not care how long it took me to run that race – they were excited for me to finish. I suspect even if I walked the miles, they would have been happy.

That insight was so freeing. From that point on, I was calmer and more relieved. Fear did not have a hold on me anymore.

What fear do you need to name so you can fight it?