I’m reading a book called The Flinch. It’s author, Julian Smith, has made electronic copies available for free through Amazon. Although Smith’s writing is decent and his premise interesting, I’m not sure it takes 855 kilobytes to get his point across. Pick up the book if you like, or content yourself with this synopsis:
We humans miss out on a broad range of beneficial experiences due to fear of events that haven’t happened yet. The flinch is our natural reaction to pain; it is supposed to follow the unpleasant event. Instead, we tend to flinch in anticipation of discomfort, and steer clear of perceived danger that, if faced, would promote personal growth.
In order to become tougher, better individuals, we ought to acquire a boxer’s ability to override the flinch reflex. This is accomplished through repeated, intentional exposure to uncomfortable experiences (from cold showers to asking for raises), through which we learn that most of what we fear isn’t dangerous at all — and on the rare occasions when we actually are damaged, we bear our scars as badges of honor, as proof of our ability to survive.
Do you recognize the flinch?
I suspect I am not the only equestrian who faces it before every ride. The twinge of reluctance. The search for an excuse. The reason not to go today. Because once I boot up, saddle up, mount up…anything could happen. I might get hurt.
The flinch. Every time, I push through it in order to get out the door. And every time, once the horse is live in my hands, the fear evaporates. The flinch is behind me, and the experience itself isn’t painful after all. This is what I know, what I love, what I do. It is familiar and easy and fun. It sets me free. It makes me better.
But to get there — get better — I have to grit through the flinch. And really, it’s not so bad.
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