Fearing the test – testing the fear

I’m like a frickin’ Zen Koan here.

One of my goals for 2011 is to learn to face my Taekwon-do belt tests without fear. * 

Usually, right before my test I’m all whacked out, worried that I might mess up, or that I don’t know my stuff or that I might make an ass of myself.  I’m trying to let go of that fear, well, to acknowledge it and then let it go because I know that the fear of messing up is far worse than when I actually mess up. 

I waste a lot of time on fear.  I don’t often let it stop me but I do often let it loop over and over and distract me from more interesting things, and sadly, TKD belt tests are only one of the the things that I fear.  The advantage though, is that belt tests are fairly fixed.  I know far in advance when they’re going to be and I have a list of things to prepare before I do a test. 

It’s ideal, really.  A fear-inducing situation where I have a decent measure of control, where preparation will make a definite difference. 

So, I’ve been practicing my patterns (Do San is my current one) and reviewing my theory (I know the Training Secrets of Taekwon-do inside out) and I’ve been step-sparring like it’s going out of style (it was never in style, don’t worry, you aren’t behind).  I’ve been taking as much control as I reasonably can, and you know what?

I feel good.  I’m not afraid for my test on Thursday at all.

Now, come Thursday, I may be scared a bit, but usually I would be getting anxious already.  This is huge for me.  And even if I get scared on Thursday, that’s a fairly reasonable amount of time to spend thinking about something important to me.  I can accept that level of fear as part of the process.

The plan is to translate this into a plan for other fear-inducing situations. I want to bring other worries down to a reasonable size by determining what I can control,  planning for that, and then letting the rest go.

How much of a role does fear play in your life? Does it stop you from doing things or have you learned to work around the fear?  Or are you out of the fear loop and not get this at all?

Now, on that note, I’m off to do Do San again.

*I just typed feat.  Somehow I don’t think that’s going to work.

4 thoughts on “Fearing the test – testing the fear

  1. I’m always amazed at how much fear affects me — and I don’t think of myself as a nervous or fearful person. But my interactions with a lot of people are driven by fear of what they MIGHT think of me or MIGHT say to me — in other words I’m making up imaginary situations in my head and reacting to them, rather than to what’s actually in front of me — and I think for me that situation is the definition of fear. There are stiuations where fear is real, necessary, and productive — when you are faced with an actual threat. But so much fear is anticipatory — like your fear of your tests, or my fear of things that people might be thinking about me. Living in the moment defeats a lot of fear, I think, though I’m still struggling with how to make that work consistently.

  2. morganjlee says:

    This is all sounding very much like the Buddhist saying, “everything is a Dharma dream”, which always makes me laugh, but is also true once you get past the bizarre. I have found that I often skip fear and go straight to anger. So it helps me to stop and figure out why I’m angry, and what it is that I’m afraid of. Then the whole, it’s just a dharmic dream is very helpful. If I get that far.

  3. Nat says:

    I fear making mistakes. And correcting them (like it still won’t be good enough.) But I’ve now made enough mistakes that: a) I know I’m going to make mistakes and b) fessing up is the first road to fixing them. Once fessed up, they lose some of their fearsome qualities.

    Go Mombie! You’re going to kick butt on Thurs! (Not literally, though? Or is there butt kicking in this test?)

  4. mombie says:

    @Trudy – You’re right, the time-wasting fear is anticipatory. There are many situations I can handle when confronted with them, but if I think about having to handle them, the fear is enormous. I’m still working on living in the moment myself. I think I find it a challenge because as a mom I have to do that telescoping thing where you have to guess how the things you do now will affect future behaviour and you always have to be one step ahead – you can’t start making lunch when they are whining because they’re hungry. It’s hard to be mindful and in the moment.

    @morganjlee – I sometimes do that anger masking fear thing, and it’s no fun. You’re right about the dream bit, once you remember how much of this stuf we’ve invented ourselves, it is a little easier to deal with.

    @nat – I hear you on the fear of mistakes. I make fun of myself for it ‘Oh, no! They might realize I’m NOT perfect.’ but I still can’t always get past it. I need to also let go of wanting to explain where my mistakes originated, people care more about the fixing than the why. Thanks for your vote of confidence about my test, there’s no actual butt-kicking involved. Although for my next test I have to break a board – I’m looking forward to that.

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