I'm currently on a reset for both squat and DL, and I don't have those feelings at all any more, I think mostly because I know I've been on this part of the road before, and it didn't kill me last time. For me in the past, a new PR had become a crisis. I felt so beat-up afterward that I'd deload a little longer than I needed to, or I'd be hurt enough that I wouldn't approach that weight again for a while, and then I'd find myself behind and unable to keep up the momentum I'd had before. This time I intend to keep the 5/3/1 progressions going through my old PRs. I'm not going to test a PR, or try for something beyond the loads dictated by the program. Just steadily adding 5 pounds to my upper and 10 to my lower training maxes, getting extra reps if I can, but not worrying about it if I only get the prescribed reps. For me that's lifting without fear.
This touches heavily on my own intentions for after my 2-week hybrid 5/3/1-Texas system stops working. Having now read PP through pretty well, I'm sure that when it stops working for me:
1) I will still be far from my genetic potential
2) My body will have adapted to the stress patterns so that they no longer trigger supercompensation.
Therefore it is possible I might be able to get more gains on the 2-week cycle (before giving up on it and going monthly) by altering the stress patterns, which means sets and reps.
Now, as I understand, you've been on 5/3/1 for awhile, but you mention deloading -- which I take to mean setting 1RM numbers lower to "run up the hill" again. But if I understand my PP, this may not be the way to go (hey, it's you guys' fault for telling me to read Rippetoe, you've created a monster).
Your log says you're on cycle 17, is that 17 straight cycles of as-written 5/5/5+, 3/3/3+, 5/3/1+ and deload? Because if so, conventional wisdom says your body would have adapted to the stress pattern, so that it no longer disrupts homeostasis and triggers and adaptation. The thing to do would be to change the stress to force an adaptation.
The options for changing the stress pattern are endless, and again conventional wisdom says any kind of change would likely work. But what kind of change?
In 5/3/1, we tend to focus on the ascending intensity as the only pattern, but for any given lift, if you look at the tonnage you see something fascinating:
Week 1: Tonnage = 11.25 x 1RM
Week 2: Tonnage = 7.2 x 1RM
Week 3: Tonnage = 7.25 x 1RM
Week 4: Tonnage = 7.5 x 1RM
Wendler is keeping tonnage constant after week 1 while varying intensity quite a bit. So the options for changing the stress pattern are not just limited to sets/reps/intensity, but also to tonnage. We have two options:
1) Assume Wendler is omniscient and a new set/rep/intensity pattern has to respect his tonnages, or
2) Assume Ken found a coincidence and we are free to mess with tonnage as well.
Anyway, to get to the point, have you ever changed the sets/reps? Since Wendler is basically providing three "heavy" days, you can mess with it considerably to do heavy-medium-heavy-light, or anything else. You can mess with tonnage so it goes 11.25 -> 7.2 -> 15 -> 5, really anything.
I do, however like Proper Knob's signature line, "If it doesn't scare you, it's not heavy enough." Maybe not strictly true, but there is some truth in it.
Yeah, I love that line, but it is impossible to explain to an "outsider."