Ignorance and Fear

As I was driving back home, I got a moment to ponder on ignorance and fear. I was thinking about one of the idea I have been toying around with, in the past 1 year. I am not sure what is stopping me from going ahead and flushing out the details and get that idea out, but I cannot make myself do anything about it so far. I have happened to discuss with my friends about the idea and they all think it’s a great idea and I personally believe that it’s a great one too. As I thought about it, two things crystallized for me.

Ignorance and Fear. I think both Ignorance and Fear are cyclically connected. Like a catch-22 situation. I think ignorance leads to fear and more fear leads to more ignorance. It’s a hard cycle to break. Most of it is happening without my serious thinking of it. Only today in the context of my idea was I able to see how they are connected.

My ignorance about certain things – Flex, iPhone development, Erlang, Amazon Web Services etc has made me not even attempt to take my first step towards this idea. I am a perfectionist and it’s a pain in the butt for any perfectionist to take a tiny imperfect step. Add to that years and years of self-flagellation you get a very acute case of self-doubter and highly self-crtitical judger. I realized as I sat through the slow moving traffic that my ignorance about certain “supposed” things has created a fear in me. The fear which freezes me in my location. Sangita, long time back, mentioned from her Somatics class that there are 5 ways we react to trauma/fear.

  1. fight
  2. flight
  3. freeze
  4. appease
  5. dis-associate

I think I have done almost all of them on that list in my life, but the most popular one seems to be ‘freeze’. So, ignorance creates fear which freezes me there by contributing to the ignorance.

I realized that there are couple of things I can do to break this cycle. Believe it or not, it’s another cycle albeit an empowering one. I think before I craft this cycle I need to make one strong assumption. And that is – “It’s a friendly Universe out there”. Einstein said it long time back. Anyhow, here is what I think would break the cycle.

Little action is a great replacement for Ignorance. Instead of thinking/believing that “Knowledge” is the response to Ignorance, I think the better response to ignorance is ‘small action steps’. I think, all my life the way I have learned is by making mistakes. Only that I have never been aware of it. My first job was where I had to prove by building a web application in 15 days in a totally new technology. Start to end. I had no clue how I am going to do it, but all I knew was I am going to do it and I did it. As I moved along, the pieces fell in their places. This is nothing new I am mentioning but it’s an age old way of learning things through tinkering, trial and error.

But I guess what happened over the past few years is that I happen to fall into the trap of disdaining trial and error and prefer erudition. Which is not bad, but for who I am it’s not the right way. By making myself believe that learning/knowing everything before I proceed, has put me in a situation where I am freezing without moving on with my idea. So, now I have realized that ‘small action steps’ are far better supplement for Ignorance than heavy dosages of knowledge.

The second part of the cycle is forgiveness, patience, end result and big picture. This happens to be the antidote for the ‘fear’ part of the earlier deadly cycle. Obviously, through trial and error, through ‘ready-fire-aim’ method I am going to burn myself many places. But, if I keep the end result and the big picture in mind then I won’t allow the fear of failure to freeze me. To make this happen I also have to be more forgiving of myself and my mistakes. I know Freud taught us to blame it on our parents as to why we grow up to be like this. Parents commit their own mistakes with parenting as with any other things, but I think once you have that awareness of how our childhood can affect our adulthood – we should be bigger enough to be able to take a plunge and become what we aspire to be. Anyhow, I am blabbering. But to make the story short, I believe remembering the big picture and being gentle with myself will help me to get rid of the fear.

Once this cycle is in place, the change won’t be overnight. But it sure will come. As I type this, I can sense a great calm in my heart which is a good sign. I am going to take my first tiny little step as soon as I end this post.

One thought on “Ignorance and Fear

  1. I skipped 3/4th of the post since I wanted to comment on the first few lines. Maybe I might be off track or my comment may not even be related to the point of the whole post.. but here goes –
    I agree with the idea that fear and ignorance are cyclic. How about, say, ignorance decreases and therefore fear increases?
    You don’t know that fire can burn (ignorance) so you don’t fear touching fire. Pretty basic for an example but can be expanded upon. Now back to reading the post..

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