A Coaching Power Tool Created by Yuri Cavallin
(Career Coach, SPAIN)
I’m not a comics book lover. Never been. But there’s one character I always found very intriguing: Batman(Bruce Wayne), an orphan kid who transformed his fears into his greatest force. After witnessing the murdering of his parents at age 8, he trains intellectually and physically to become Gotham’s protector. But, quoting his words, “Criminals are a superstitious and cowardly lot, so my disguise must be able to strike terror into their hearts. I must be a creature of the night, black, terrible…” and while saying those words a bat files through the window, inspiring Bruce to assume the persona of Batman.
This story fascinates me because it shows how mastering your fears helps you deal with everything and everyone. At the moment you take full control over your mind and your body you can face any adversity. It also shows how everyone has his own fears, from the weakest person to the strongest villain, we all fear something.
Between all the enemies Batman has to face, Scarecrow (Jonathan Crane) is the more fascinating. He’s a former professor of psychology who uses a variety of drugs and psychological tactics to use the fears and phobias of his adversaries. Crane believes that all human actions and behaviors are based on fear, and he tries to take control of people using it.
The duel between these 2 characters really excites me. From one side there’s Batman, a strict hero who never panics, is always under control, and able to face all types of dangers and situations day after day. From the other side, there’s Scarecrow, the representation of fear itself, using his drugs to take control to hover every person, except for Batman, who has such self-control to resist his effects.
The Scarecrow effects
Fear can easily take control over us. It’s a natural human feeling and we all fear something. Fear of failures, of not been accepted, of losing someone. Fear is a response to something, it’s a way of reacting. Our minds would do anything to avoid pain, including blocking and freezing us from acting.
Living under Scarecrow effects means letting fear wins. It means letting all our actions and behaviors been driven by it. Avoiding risks, living in the comfort zone, rejecting all the growth opportunities. Fear often wins because it’s the easiest solution. Why would you want to take risks when you can easily stay where you are, keep living as you have been, with your stomach full?
Most of the time we know what we should do, what might help us to move forward, what would be better for us. We’re intelligent and smart, and probably we would also succeed trying to do it. But still, something blocks us, paralyzes us, freeze us, and we stand there watching our chance go by while we imagine an infinity of bad things that could happen if we make a move. Yet it feels so real, even if it’s just in our mind, that we avoid taking the risk.
Scarecrow wins easily because our mind is not designed for taking chance. Our mind is designed to make us survive in the world. Whenever a danger approach, even if it’s not real, the first mind reaction is to turn around and run as fast as possible. It does it for our safety, it wants us to survive, it thinks that a reaction like that is the best option we have to avoid pain.
Our brain had helped humans survive thousands of years ago when life was really scary when wild creatures could come out from around the corner and eat you, so the best option you had was to go back to the cave at the first warning signal. And in today’s life if it wasn’t for your mind you would cross the street without watching the semaphore. You can’t blame it for being weak, it’s simply taking care of yourself.
The problem is that letting fear win all the time prevents you from growing, and from my point of view, what doesn’t grow to die. Fear is helpful in some situations when the danger is real, but most of the time our minds will come up with a fully invented story of what might happens, without having any facts to prove it. What is showing you is a possible scenario, usually the most catastrophic, forgetting that there are thousands of possibilities and variables, and most importantly, forgetting that nobody (your mind included) can predict the future.
If you don’t learn to take control over fear it will absorb you, it will show you danger and risk even where there isn’t any, and this is what Scarecrow’s drugs do. All you’ll see will scare you, even if it’s not real, even if it’s just on your mind, the fear will possess you.
If you want to live fully you must learn how to deal with it. You must learn how to be Batman.
Living as Batman
You don’t need to wear a costume to face fear, or gain muscles, or defeat criminals all night protecting your city.
Fear is a natural reaction to something, but it’s not the action itself. What you do is under your control. Your mind might be screaming and telling you to run away, but it’s your body and you own it. You decide what to do with it, despite what your natural response might be.
Courage doesn’t mean not having fear. As I was saying before we all have fears, even Batman has. But he’s able to keep it under control, even in the most dangerous situation, he has full control of his mind and his body. He recognizes the fear, he knows where the danger is, but instead of panicking he analyzes the situation, finds the better approach to deal with it and only then he acts, always successfully because you know, he’s a superhero.
Unfortunately, in real life, you won’t always succeed. Sometimes you’ll face your fear, you’ll do the step required but still, you won’t obtain what you wanted. There’s not always a happy ending to everything. But what I learned is that you’ll feel proud of yourself for taking the chance, for dealing with your fear. Maybe not instantly, it’ll take some time, but whenever you’ll think about that situation you’ll realize that despite what your mind was saying you have been able to do it anyway, and that’s how courage grows. You face fear, recognize it, and despite it, you act.
At the end of the day actions matter. Life matters. It’s not important what your brain was saying, all the horrible scenarios it designed for you, you’ll remember only the actions, what you did in the situation, how you acted.
To deal with fear you must recognize it as something natural, something that’s part of you as it is for everyone, but forced to see things from a different perspective. What if your mind was wrong? What if there’s no danger? What if there were no dramatic consequences? Most of the time we think that a mistake will compromise us forever, only to realize that nothing actually changes, and everyone even forgot about it quickly.
Still, our mind has fears, and it will always will. But dealing with it will make you feel stronger, prouder, it will give you courage as if you were wearing armor as if nothing can actually stop it.
You’ll start to feel as if you’re Batman.
I like to think about myself as someone who doesn’t have fear, who can do whatever he wants whenever he wants. Unfortunately, that’s not true. Despite the fact I feel pretty confident with myself, a lot of times fear to stop me from completely expressing myself.
Fear of what others might think of me, fear of making the wrong choice, or saying something it’s better not to say. It happens, especially with people I care about. In those situations I try to remind myself of what is fear, think about the fact that is simply my brain telling me what might happens. Sometimes it works, sometimes this helps me understand that even if I say something wrong, even if I make a mistake, things are going to be ok.
I don’t pretend to be a superhero, I like being human with pros and cons. I love to try and fails and try again, learn from my mistakes, avoiding letting myself be stopped by fear. Realizing that I don’t know the future is something that calms me, I like to explore, I’m curious, so most of the time I push myself over fear just to know what’s on the other side. Nobody knows, my brain neither, so I can’t let this feeling stop me from acting. And usually, whenever I’m on the other side, I realize there was actually nothing to be afraid of.
As an example of all this, I’d like to talk about my ex-pat from Italy to Spain. It was May 2017 when with my girlfriend we decided to move to Barcelona. We had been together less than 1 year, but we felt confident in doing it. It was a huge step, moving far away from home (my first time living without my parents) to a foreign country, where I had to find a job, learn the language, make new friends. There was fear. Fear of losing the money, of not finding an apartment, of not finding the job, of not being able to live together with my girlfriend.
All this thing could have stopped me from acting, forced me to postpone everything until maybe someday for some reason I would have felt ready. But I don’t like to wait, and as I said I’m curious, so I asked myself “What the worst might happen?”. I can simply go back home to my parents and start all over. Not a great ending, but it’s not the end of the world. Life goes on anyway.
Luckily everything went great, after 4 years that has been the best decision I could have made. I grow so much and learned a lot about myself, and discovered there was actually nothing to be worried about.
Finding the courage to face fear and jump into the unknown felt great, and looking back I feel proud of myself.
As a coach, my role is to support the client identify where the fear is coming from and find together a strategy to face it and defeat it to achieve his goal. A client might feel scared about a situation but is not sure what exactly is causing it, and in those cases, it’s important to work together to identify his values, he believes, and supports him while he discovers himself.
If the goal is truly important for the client he’ll have to face his fear, otherwise there’s the risk he’ll live constantly in a state of frustration and low self-esteem. Fear might make him feel insecure and weak overall, and the risk is that is blocked in one area of his life will cause him to feel insecure in other areas as well.
Some questions that might help the client discover and analyze his fear:
- What is fear for you?
- How do you feel when you think about fear?
- What do you think is the source of this fear?
- What is the worst scenario that might happen?
- How is fear supporting you?
And others that will help him move forward toward his goal:
- What will happen if you won’t get rid of this fear?
- How would you like to feel instead?
- What would you do if you were fearless?
- What could support you in finding courage?
- How would you feel if you hadn’t this fear?
- What can you do to take control over your fear?
Fear can be helpful sometimes. It’s what forces us to analyze a situation before acting, it’s what prevents us from putting our self in danger, so we mustn’t try to avoid it.
What we can do is face it, try to understand what our mind is saying to us, and think about more positive scenarios might happens instead. As a coach is important to support the client see the situation under other circumstances, understand his believes and values but trying to remove the block that is keeping him stuck.
We must help him deal with his mind, support him in facing it to find the courage to do the steps required to achieve his goals. Most of the time everything is just in his mind, so we simply need to support him realize that, realize what are the consequences if he won’t act, and help him see things more rationally.
That shift will help him defeat Scarecrow’s drugs and start feeling as if he were Batman.