“We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than reality.”
-Lucius Annaeus Seneca
The truth is that there is no dagger, until there is one. Often we tend to run away from opportunities because we are afraid that the handshake conceals a hidden dagger. We assume that there is nothing good out there, or that every good bread comes with a little bit of poison. This mindset is dangerous as it prevents us from seeing the world as it is. Sometimes, closing ourselves off from opportunities may be more deadly than risking the chance that the dagger does exist. By saying “no” as a knee-jerk response, or rejecting an offer out of an unrealistic imagination, we are cutting ourselves off, too prematurely, from a stream of reality that could intertwine with our lives and take us to higher place, perhaps transforming us into a better person.
On the flip-side of it, I don’t believe in saying “yes” without thinking. Neither should we ignore our intuition when something feels off. Clearly, our intuition was designed to warn us of dangers that we may not be able to accurately see or communicate, but at times our intuition goes out of whack. We panic for no reason, or shut ourselves off because of a delusional fear is often grounded in a past experience of shame or failure. The good news is that we can use our minds to overcome delusional fear. I’ll explain it as we move along.
Sometimes there are opportunities that make us go “OH YEA!”, and we just have to grab it. That’s usually the right thing to do because the passion and the excitement tends to see us through, and even when the adrenaline rush dies down we can be inspired easily by whatever quality that first ignited the spark in our hearts at the beginning. But more often than not, we need more time to evaluate. Taking this time to evaluate is critical to success. Too many chances are missed because we do not truly understand what it consists of, and how it may change our experience or that of those we care about. So whenever possible, do bargain for time if pressed to make a difficult decision!
The evaluation process actually helps to modulate our fears. We can slowly weigh the pros and cons of any decision and consider how it may affect us in future. By modulating our fears, we will be able to calmly process reality. This may involve standing on objective ground while observing what is really going on, all the while maintaining an open mind to accept what we see without judging. It may involve talking to others in order to find out more about subjects we have no way of evaluating due to limited experience or knowledge.
While this sounds very easy, we may encounter certain emotional roadblocks along the way. Instead of being able to sit down calmly and making a list of the good and the bad, a particular thought or association may trigger an overwhelming tendency to just throw the baby (the opportunity!) out with the bathwater (the trigger to our delusional fears). We are unable to do the earlier-described evaluation process, and thus our minds feel powerless to modulate our fears. This is an example of a very deep-rooted problem. The best way to deal with it if we are unable to see a therapist of counselor, is to be our own therapist and counselor (not recommended if you feel too unstable though!). What you can do is to simply take a walk, put on some calming music, or have you favourite foods with a bunch of friends to lift your mood. Afterwards, either get a trusted friend whom you can talk to or if you’re feeling better, sit down and slowly plow through the problem. Is the issue really that big a deal? If I give it a shot will I die (usually the answer is no, so don’t worry too much!)? Perhaps there are some elements that I need to change to make myself feel better? Once you get to the crux of the issue, you can start truly evaluating the opportunity.
In doing all this, sometimes we do find a dagger. The good news is, now we have something legitimate to fear, and we had better get away as soon as possible, or disarm that dagger! You will notice that one tactic of most sales people is to give clients limited time to think. This is one way to prevent them from comparing prices and quality. In the world, you will meet many salesmen, and you most likely will have to be one yourself. Educating yourself is one of the best investment as you will be able to see daggers quickly, or dismiss dagger-fears as delusional and grab the opportunity as it comes.
In refusing to immediately succumb to dagger-fear, we find the time and expertise to expose an opportunity for what it really is: either a true gem, a sneaky bait, or just something dull and worthless designed to look good. The first step is to realize that the dagger doesn’t exist… until it does!