On turning fear into excitement, avoiding the trap of endless email, and pull-up negatives

It took me a long time to learn that feeling fear doesn’t make you a coward.

Like most people, I used to look at fear as a bad thing. If I were really brave, I would never feel fear, period. Therefore I concluded that I must not be brave.

Anytime I felt fear bubbling up inside of me, I would take it as a sign that I was doing something wrong. That I couldn’t take on the challenge. And I would quit.

But, at some point, I realized that everyone feels fear. Even the seemingly fearless like retired Navy SEAL David Goggins.

What someone like Goggins does differently than the rest of us is that he doesn’t let his fear control him. He acknowledges it. , Then, rather than retreating or letting it overwhelm him, he leans into it. He takes his fear as a sign that he must be doing something right by taking on a challenge.

Fear has some useful benefits we often overlook. It evolved to give us strength, speed, and stamina. Feeling fear means we’re pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone.

So help fear do its job.

Next time you feel fear bubbling up, ask yourself: “how can I make use of all this energy?”

Think about what value-driven activities you can channel your energy into.

Better yet, start to notice where you feel the fear in your body — is it in your belly, your chest, the back of your throat?

As you notice where you feel fear in your body, you may also become aware that it’s the same area where you feel excitement. So To turn fear into excitement, you simply need to reframe your fear.

Start by acknowledging your fear, then telling yourself, “I am excited” as you breathe into the feeling.

Sound silly? Try it before you knock it.

As Russ Harris, ACT mindfulness expert and author of one of my favorite books, The Confidence Gap says:

“Fear is not your enemy. It is a powerful source of energy that can be harnessed and used for your benefit.”

Fear is your brain and body readying you for action.

Regard it as a teammate, not an opponent. Allow it, channel it, and use it.

What I’m reading —

Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Valuesby Robert M Pirsig

I never took philosophy in school, so I missed out on reading some books every growth-seeking human should read, including this classic book on the art of living better. Even if you’re not into motorcycles (I’m not), the insights on values, relationships, cultivating presence, and personal growth makes it well worth a read.

Writes Pirsig about slowing down and being mindful:

“We’re in such a hurry most of the time we never get much chance to talk. The result is a kind of endless day-to-day shallowness, a monotony that leaves a person wondering years later where all the time went, and sorry it’s all gone.”

What I’m listening to —

Cal Newport on a World Without Email on Finding Mastery

I don’t know about you, but I get very overwhelmed by email. And voicemails. And Facebook messages. And Instagram messages… and, and, and…

Cal Newport, associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University and author of A World Without Email: Reimagining Work in an Age of Communication Overload confirms in this podcast with psychologist Michael Gervais that I’m not the only one with over 10,000 unread messages in my inbox. Email, Slack, and the other countless forms of messaging and communication are, as he says, “melting our brains.”

According to data collected by RescueTime, the average person checks their messages every six minutes (!). This completely disrupts any chance at getting into deep work or flow, and leaves us feeling stressed out and unaccomplished at the end of the day.

Lots of good insights in this one, although I suspect the book offers even more tangible advice for changing the way we communicate as a society.

A quote that inspires me —

“Commitment isn’t about being perfect, always following through, or never going astray. Commitment means that when you (inevitably) stumble or get off track, you pick yourself up, find your bearings, and carry on in the direction you want to go.”  ― Russ Harris

What I’m training this week —

Slow pull-up negatives.

I injured my elbow a few years ago by landing badly in a back handspring, and my pull-ups haven’t been as strong since. To build up strength, I add in a lot of slow negatives to my training. I greatly prefer negatives to the assisted pull-up machines (have you ever seen anyone go from those machines to doing actual pull-ups? Yeah, me either).

The key with negatives is to go very slowly through all of your sticking points. One negative should take you around ten seconds to complete. If you drop quickly at first, don’t get discouraged — just try and slow it down with time.

Three new workouts from last week —

Full Body Plyo HIIT Workout (12 Minute, plyo box)

Sprint + Bodyweight AMRAP Workout (AMRAP, equipment-free)

240 Rep Sandbag Strength Workout (Challenge, sandbag or dumbbells, dip bar/parallel bars)

And here’s an Instagram workout I posted on Instagram.

Remember, you can get these and all future workouts right in the 12 Minute Athlete app when you subscribe as a Super Athlete (this is WAY cheaper than joining a gym or hiring a personal trainer! In addition, you’ll be helping to support the site and making future features to the app possible.).

As always, I value your feedback, so please feel free to reply directly to this email if you have any questions or comments (yes, I am a real human). I get a lot of emails and messages, so I can’t reply to all of them, but I do read everything you guys send me!

Here’s to embracing fear,

– Krista Stryker

PS. Here’s a great article on why goals aren’t everything in fitness by my friend and calisthenics expert Al Kavadlo. If you haven’t checked out his stuff, you should! He’s a beast (and a super nice guy).

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