Killer Bunnies and Harnessing the Irrational

Over the years, I’ve had a few scary encounters with birds. Not a lot, and nothing that ever resulted in physical injury, but enough to give me a healthy fear of birds. Actually, who am I kidding? It’s an exceptionally unhealthy fear of birds. Nothing healthy about it. If a small red-winged blackbird flies even just seemingly towards me from a block away, the irrational feeling takes over and I duck and cover my head like it’s a fire drill. I even scream some of the time. No, I’m not exaggerating, Lanny, can confirm as he has witnessed my ball of fear in real-time. So has my running partner Leslie. Now the fear has grown into being afraid of small, adorable — and harmless — animals.

Canmore has a bunny problem. Years ago, as the legend goes, a resident’s domesticated bunnies got out of their home and did what bunnies do, propagated. You’ll see legions of these cute little creatures everywhere in town. Most people coo over them because they are pretty darn cute. Not me. When I am out for a run I’ll see a bunny ahead on the trail, I will suddenly envision it turning into a crazy little bitch of a bunny and attacking me.

Obviously, my rational brain is wise enough to know that this fear is completely invalid. But, knowing that it’s irrational does not stop the fear from flooding me in real time as I am out in the wild streets of Canmore running.

The fear is strange and persistent. But, it’s made me realize that many of the fears I give credence to are not founded in any kind of rationality at all. The fear of bunny-zilla does not go away, the more positive experiences I have with bunnies (and by positive I mean ones that don’t attack me.) In fact, mathematically speaking, if one in a million bunnies are in fact aggressive, every bunny I pass increases the likelihood of it being the crazy one that attacks me.

This makes total sense, right?

Every Monday I am stymied by the same irrational fear. When I work on the weekly newsletter draft, I’m back in the space of thinking my words and thoughts are mediocre at best. Why do I bother? Or the irrational fear, that my photography work will become irrelevant. When it could NEVER become irrelevant to the people who love the people in the photo. Or the fear that my kids will only very remember me as a nagging bitch. I could keep on going. These fears are everywhere and ever-present. One of the most common questions I get from students is “when can I expect the fear to subside.”

Well, that fear may be here to stay (for me and you), in a little compartment in my/your brain. It’s time to harness the fear and just do it anyway.

Love Erika

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