Humans have a lot more evolving to do. We need to tune our responses. We’re too fearful. Fear ruins lives.
Gone are the velociraptors (that no human was ever around to witness, but look I’m riffing here, give me some creative licence, yea?) of caveman times. Jumping out of a tree and breaking your leg is unlikely to result in a horrible gangrenous death. The mushrooms come in little boxes from Tescos, not a dice with death, versus starving in a woodland glade.
The fears have changed, and weirdly, though less immediately terrifying, more crushing to our long term happiness.
The new fears are loneliness, old age, debt, failure, humiliation, abuse.
Fearing what may or may not happen. Fear within doubt. The fear of fucking up. The fear of getting it wrong. The fear of making yourself look like a total dick.
I try not to be one of those self-appointed self-help types, but perhaps the most famous self-help phrase comes to mind, It’s a cliche for a reason:
FEEL THE FEAR AND DO IT ANYWAY
Do not fear fear.
I’ve experienced many of my old fears actually happening. My previous business Vulpine went bust - we grew too fast and overbought stock (which is why FRAHM doesn’t make much and is based around pre-orders - making a smaller, but much safer business). It was deeply humiliating, threw us into seemingly impossible debt, was my crowning failure, etc etc.
But you know what, it's not that bad now. Only YOU can experience YOUR world. If I’m crushed by humiliation - in other words I care more what others think of me than what I think of myself, I’ve written my own story. A story of embarrassment and shame. Not of trying my best. Which is what it was. I’m proud I tried. What I’ve learnt helps me now.
What if I’d never given up my job in 2010 and never found out I could design clothing? Never had those awards. Never tested myself and found new skills. Never met so many amazing new people. Just doing the 9-5 (more like 8), with my soul quietly ebbing away.
I choose not to be embarrassed about my failures. I speak about them a lot. I say them out loud. Saying it dilutes it - takes its power away. “I failed. So? What next, with what I’ve learnt?”
I am increasingly less scared of the world. It’s been a long, slow journey from frightened kid to…whatever I am now. A reasonably well functioning adult!
I’m often called fearless for speaking so honestly about my life and mental health. I really hate that compliment (though compliment it is, so thank you). I am NOT fearless. I am not comfortable with talking about it. I fear writing and publishing blogs like this. I have read and reread this a number of times.
But so what if it’s uncomfortable? Am I better off doing, or not doing? How will I feel if I retract this and keep quiet? For me, that means I have to look at myself and say I didn’t help, when I could have. That I let fear win.
So I do it, despite the fear, not in its absence.
All those videos, podcasts, blogs, instagrams are me realising I should say something, pausing, worrying, then swearing at myself and doing it. And honestly, worrying about it for days after it goes out. But they are ALWAYS well received, despite my fear. My life is better for it.
Fear can be exciting. Not just bungee jumping, but overcoming those everyday neurosis and worries we all have. Beating your subconscious feels great. Pushing through fear makes you like yourself. Creating FRAHM is one long extended push through fear, so I can respect myself.
This is my theory. Fear makes us give up so, we hate ourselves, we lose self respect. Without self respect, we don’t treat ourselves right. We punish ourselves for failing to do what’s right. It is a fundamental of the Human Condition. We damage ourselves through fear. Sometimes we avoid all human contact, or all possibility of loss or rejection to the point we do nothing.
When we do nothing, all the bad stuff, that happens anyway, whomever you are, predominates. If you sit on the sofa worrying, you’ll die on the sofa, worrying. Or you could have picked up the phone and made a thing happen. Maybe a tiny thing, but a start…. Then another thing. Then change. New life, new outlook. All from… a start.
I have hurt my life, my career, my family, my friends, through fear. I still do. I’m not perfect.
But I do it a hell of a lot less. I respect myself. The self-help guru would say I Love Myself (ooo er). In doing so I treat myself right and thus my self discipline increases.
FRAHM was set up through fear. Intense fear. But I did it because I knew hating myself through the regret would be worse. I had built the self-discipline to TREAT MYSELF (I use that phrase deliberately) to the things I knew would be hard, but worth it.
An example: I was a glum, shoe-gazing, worry worm of a teenager - as many are or have been! I was terrified of asking girls I fancied out for dates. I didn’t kiss a girl until I was 16. I can remember my hand hovering over the phone with the words in my head, unable to do what I believe (aged 47 and 25 years into 1 marriage!) I’d do in an instant now. I’d do it instantly because I respect myself too much not to miss an opportunity for happiness, despite the fear. Asking girls out is still scary! But regret is worse.
I asked Emmalou out in 1996. If I hadn’t, where would I be now? 25 years of love, support, kids, blah…
I so nearly didn’t. But I was in a better place in my life, more relaxed, probably finally respecting myself. So I did.
It won’t always go your way. Mostly it won’t. Rejection.
Rejection is hard. It confirms our original fears, solidifying them. Some I know have concreted their fears into facts. “It is a fact I will never meet anyone. That they will always say no.” This is heartbreaking.
Life rewards the triers. Trying is a muscle, it must be trained. The first try is the hardest, especially if it goes badly. But didn’t it feel good to try? Now try again. Failure is only as bad as you make it.
Failure means you’re giving it a go. Give it a go.
Success is a numbers game: Apply for more jobs. Ask more people out. Try another new business. Hone your skills. Respect the work you’re putting in. With all this comes self respect.
When I was seeing someone to help pull me out of depression, they said that my life was coloured by my seeking for self-respect. That I wanted to like myself, as so many kids with difficult childhoods do. I think/hope I do now. Not always, but mostly. Sometimes I hide on the sofa and quietly hate myself for no apparent reason. Maybe shouting at the kids. Then I do some exercise, or get back on the horse and do a blog like this, and the respect is back. I am constantly maintaining and working at it, by doing the things that scare me, anyway.
Some kids never get out of this fear/lack of self-respect cycle. They become men. Men who may beat women, turn to addiction, gambling, toxic relationships, all sorts of self-harm and harming others. Fear manifests itself into shame thus lack of self respect then lack of respect for others, and in many other terrible ways.
I often say I don’t hate Internet Trolls, I pity them. Trolling is harming others to try and gain themselves self-respect. It’s a fucked up short cut to hating oneself more. The long way is to be kind, to listen, to encourage. Pity bad behaviour, it is born of the basics: fear.
If we don’t love and respect others, we can’t love and respect ourselves. It’s a cliche because it’s so absolutely true.
Try and love yourself a bit more by doing something you don’t want to. If you’re obese, run in public. If you want that management job but you fear they’ll say no, apply. You may fail, this time, but you’re on the way to liking yourself more. That matters a lot, to everyone around you.
Then, one day, you’ll have built yourself up to do the big stuff. Ending a toxic relationship, asking for help, asking for what you want, changing your career, emigrating, becoming a world class sushi chef, etc! The things that seems so far away now. Step by step. You can and will get there.
What’s the worst that can happen? “No”. Or, never realising what a more settled, contented, maybe even happier version of you could be.
You have to do it. So do it.
Flick the switch, feel the fear, do it anyway.
Do be scared, but don't let that stop you,