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What I’ve Learned About the Cyclical Nature of Fear

It’s been a Hall and Oates week. Shooting stars at night, blue birds singin’ through the day, high 5’s and high 10’s all around.

Last year I couldn’t be within 1 kilometre of a stage without feeling the hot and cold waves of anxiety wash over me. Over the last few months, I’ve busted out six casual lay-back gigs with my good mate Kenny Jewell. Last week, I did an interview for Tommy Emmanuel’s documentary, a jam and interview with Diesel for B.B. King’s birthday and I recently went on a mini weekend tour. Not only am I getting to the other side of these “challenges”, I’m getting lit up by them as well.

I’m also noticing the cyclical nature of fear. A year ago, this is how the cycle looked:

Event – anticipation/resistance – fear – depression/fatigue – surrender and feeling incapable – leap, but really thinking, “Get me the hell out of here” – realise that it wasn’t that bad, but automatically praying that I don’t have to do it again – Feeling trapped when realising the inevitable. Nothing changes if I don’t change.

But now with over a year of training, it looks a little more like this:

Event – instantly label it as a growth opportunity – identify and demystify anticipatory thoughts and the fear they bring with them – set intentions/plans with regards to the things that are in my control and bring acceptance to the things that aren’t – presence during the lead up (refocus) – attach myself to past accomplishments and remind myself of current purpose (if needed) – surrender with faith in myself and others – Leap! Accept and re-focus if anything pops up – celebrate the fuck out of the victory and put it in the bank of proof. Proof that fear is actually a teacher, not an enemy. I’ll expand on these elements in future posts.

After my dates with fear, the world is a pretty special place. The daily challenges don’t matter anymore, and the lack of background noise and restlessness allows me to fully absorb every tiny moment. I don’t feel like I’m running or trying to get ready for the monster around the corner. My energy in the house is better. I’m closer to my boy, I’m more connected with my wife. I’m swimming in inspiration and creativity. The passions to play music return. The “threat scanner” is switched off. I feel higher on the other side of fear than when I’m knocking something over within my comfort zone. I’m at peace.

The familiarity of this cycle is slowly rebranding fear. I’ve known for a while that it is ironically nothing to be afraid of, but experience is embedding it as a belief. Now, when it pops up, two voices race to the microphone.

  1. “Oh shit” (habit).
  2. ”Yes! Another fear I can say goodbye to.”

A close friend forwarded me a quote from an Instagram feed – “One of the greatest moments in your life is when you look fear straight in the eyes and finally decide to call its bluff.” – Mastin Kipp

And that’s where I am right now. The sudden rise in fear throughout my life had me believing that it was out of my control. Only because I couldn’t see how I was bringing it on. To see a future where fear is just another emotion to manage and not a time bomb ticking disease, is fucking exciting!

My deepest desires are starting to surface. No longer are they camouflaged by layers of scar tissue. I can see them. I can feel them. Some new and some as old as me. If the last few years have been dedicated to absorbing information, it now feels like the focus is shifting toward its use. Consistently sparking courage until the decisions to ride the waves of fear are second nature.

“Nerve cells that fire together, wire together”. – Neuroplasticity baby!

Diesel and I sending B.B. King some love thanks to Gibson.


For those who are new to the site, hit up my introduction post and the about tab to understand what inspired this website as well as what’s to come. 

12 Comments

  1. Andrew Tierney30/01/2017

    How often do you deal with fear?

    Reply
    1. Nathan Cavaleri31/01/2017

      I’d say every day to varying degrees. Some a little tiny ripples, some are big waves depending on triggers.

      Reply
      1. Andrew Tierney04/02/2017

        I often have a fear of being disliked or even hated by certain people who think that it’s ok to play favourites, it’s not always the case however, as there some people who did like or even loved me, and I’m sure that it’s been the same for you too throughout the years, lately I ask myself “Do I have depression?” Luckily I’m seeing a Doctor about that

        Reply
        1. Nathan Cavaleri10/02/2017

          Mate, they’re all completely normal thoughts to have! Fears, worries… They’re all part of the human experience. It’s how we can tell that we really love something. The aim is not to get rid of it, but to manage it. That’s why rather than a doctor, I went to a psychologist. Over time, I became my own psychologist after absorbing all the knowledge I needed/need. It’s still tough at times, but at least you have a direction when you have knowledge.

          Reply
  2. Glenn30/01/2017

    Great to hear of your progress mate! I can totally relate to the “Threat Scanner”. Some days I just can’t seem to find it’s off switch. It’s amazing how fatigued your body and mind gets when this is happening. Great post as usual Nathan.

    Reply
    1. Nathan Cavaleri31/01/2017

      I hear ya man!!! I suppose it took me some time to realise that there’s no off switch. The closest thing is re-branding it so it’s not seen as a bad thing, or an actual indication of threat. A friend said to me ages ago, “You don’t get rid of fear, you learn how to walk with it”… At the time I thought that concept was absolutely nuts, but I get it now. It’s part of the human experience and when we start to see it for what it truly is, it kind of becomes helpful! Loving by that is a different story hahaha!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for following!

      Reply
  3. Mal Gully01/02/2017

    Wow how timely is this! As I approach a year long music course. You’ve put some very quotable quotes and inspirational thoughts. Yes neuroplasticity, its a bit like watching a plant grow never really notice while you’re focussing on it but get through the barrier and look back and wow!How much you’ve grown. Look how far you came. Because you’ve measured and captured that ” fear” its totally controllable, like in its own corrale. I’m going to reiterate my observation that you’re creative depth is growing into an area you can’t quite measure yet. But it’s growing not shrinking and that too can be celebrated as well earned. I love the clear identification of the cycle of fear and it’s cycle of remedy…I will study it and use it.
    I think there’s 2 paths here, your experience of fear and disablement and it’s recovery and your personal growth as a result. Some people may have stopped at the first hurdle, you havnt, and second because you havnt stopped you’re Ina new area. Like fresh air, new water, not flying in turbulence. This is special. So much more I want to say.

    Reply
    1. Nathan Cavaleri03/02/2017

      You obviously know it! Because that’s exactly how it is…… Like many, I spent ages retreating from the first hurdle, mainly because I didn’t understand it. And on rare occasion, I still do but at least I know that process. Demystifies!
      When do you start the course?

      Reply
      1. Mal Gully05/02/2017

        Feb 15th I’ll mssg how it settles in, or if relavent put some here

        Reply
        1. Nathan Cavaleri10/02/2017

          Please do!

          Reply
  4. Shanon04/02/2017

    Inspirational to see mate!! This rollercoaster…. The hardest thing to do is change and the easiest thing is to start to change..

    Reply
    1. Nathan Cavaleri10/02/2017

      Thank you!!!! Definitely hard to undo habits that have been formed over the years… Do you mean that it’s easy to start changing, but hard to stay consistent?

      Reply

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