Daredevil on Overcoming Fear

daredevil2_bigDo you consider yourself to be a “Man (or Woman) Without Fear”? In the comic book world, Daredevil holds this moniker, but is it an accurate depiction of who he is or simply how others perceive him? We’ll find out soon enough when Netflix premieres it’s new show Marvel’s Daredevil this week.

For those unfamiliar, Daredevil debuted in 1964. Without giving you the 50 years of history, he is a ninja-like crimefighter with enhanced radar senses, agility, and endurance beyond normal human ability. If this sounds like your run-of-the-mill superhero, consider that Daredevil is blind and has a day job as an attorney.

Unlike to comic books or the 2003 movie starring Ben Affleck, the new series will explore Daredevil’s fear(s) and how he uses it in his unrelenting crusade for justice. In one interview, Charlie Cox who plays Daredevil on the new series, stated:

The way I like to think about it is that he is a man with fear, but he on a daily basis decides to confront that fear and to overcome it. So the title of ‘the man without fear’ is almost a title that the public in his world gives him just because of what he does. But inside himself, he’s very afraid at times. And he finds a way to confront those fears and punch through it.

daredevil matt murdockIt is comforting to know that Daredevil, a superhero without superpowers, is not immune to the human emotion of fear. This makes him more relatable and awe-inspiring. It also shows the power of dealing with your anxieties in ways that don’t hold you back.

Fear is a normal reaction to uncertainty, threats, or dangers. There are times when its a life saver and times when it prevents you from taking necessary risks. Fear can distract and consume you. It causes us to act more impulsively and without sound cognitive reasoning. Because it precludes us from thinking clearly, fear can also affect our moral compass.

The true strength of virtue is a tranquil mind. – Immanuel Kant, The Metaphysics of Morals (1797)

Some will discuss fight versus flight, but there’s also freeze. When fear takes over, we can be paralyzed with doubt. Decisions don’t get make, dilemmas are ignored, and problems fester and build. This does not have to be the case. If you are able to harness your fear, it can propel you towards action. Overcoming adversity is a powerful motivator, as is the ability to identify your “enemy.”

David Barlow, founder of the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders at Boston University, found that fear ‘”functions to warn of a potential danger situation and triggers the recruitment of internal psychological mechanisms,” and these mechanisms result in “a higher and more mature level of functioning.” Political scientist Michael MacKuen published research showing that fear can help us think more open-mindedly – when challenged, subjects who felt anxious were more likely to seek additional information, showed greater interest in learning both sides of the issue, and were willing to explore new solutions to the problem.

If you want to be more like Daredevil, here are a few ways you can utilize your fear.

Own it. Stop pretending your fear doesn’t exist. Identify it to work through it.

Explore it. Once you recognize the fear trigger, determine why it is causing so much stress.

Tackle it. Create you plan of attack. What can you do to either get past it or harness it.

Role play it. I like to play the “what’s the worst that can happen” game. Besides embarrassment, the worst case outcome is rarely worth the turmoil.

Re-Imagine it. Make fear a challenge instead of a barrier. This will allow you to turn the fear into something beatable.

Whether on the streets or in the courtroom, Daredevil was fearless. This was not because he didn’t experience fear, but because his fears fueled him. Allow your fears to push you, not hold you back. Create goals that directly confront your apprehensions; every fear you overcome is one less thing standing in the way of your success. With a few quashed fears behind you, you’ll be a daredevil in no time.