When Do You Let Fear Go?
A lot of us are scared. Worried. Anxious.
We have good reason; there is a lot to be anxious about.
Lots of things scare me. Terrorism, serious illness, growing old and losing the people I love. I try to remind myself that it’s the juxtaposition of fear and courage, despair and hope, desperation and joy that gives life it’s spark. We need the depth to feel the heights, right?
It’s hard to co-exist peacefully with fear and anxiety though.
Sometimes I’d like to pretend fear and anxiety don’t exist, deny them, or grind them into dust under my running sneakers. But I can’t.
A man I knew once told me a story. It began like this: “You know nothing scares me, but…”
I was astounded by his lack of insight. Was he kidding himself into thinking he was fearless, or did he think he was fooling me into thinking he was? I don’t believe in fearlessness. I’ve never met anyone like that, have you?. I don’t think that’s what courage is made up of.
Courage is staring your fear in the face and taking a risk anyway.
For some of us, taking a risk means jumping out of an airplane, rock climbing, or talking in front of a huge crowd. For others, our fears lay in matters of the heart. Exposing ourselves enough to be loved. Admitting our failings. Saying we are sorry.
How do we summon the courage to take risks? Over the last two years risk taking for me has meant challenging my assumptions about what I “can” and “can’t” do. It has meant writing this blog, putting myself increasingly “out there” and making my dreams of sharing the healing power of art with more people a reality both in my office and around the world.
For me, It all started with one question. One that I hope maybe you ask yourself right now:
What would I do if I had no fear?
It’s a very powerful little question, isn’t’ it? It got me wondering about what has happened for you when you have set fear aside.
What risks have you taken, even though they scared you?
“Failing” is scary.
You wonder: What if people think what I’ve done is stupid?
What if people think I’m stupid? Ugly? boring?
I’m giving you permission to entertain the questions:
What do you really want? What would you do if there were no limitations?
What would you do if you had no fear?
I’d love to know.
Thank you for this post Amy! I’m actually filling up with anxiety as I read this b/c I am afraid my current project is about to end. If I had no fear, I would see the end of this project as a good thing, and enjoy my next few steps that I know I would need to take to get another job. Your post reminds me that I bring this fear into me, that it does not reside in me.
“I bring this fear into me, it does not reside in me.” That phrase hit me like a ton of bricks! Wow. What a powerful statement for us all. It’s a little wild to play with how much we can “invite” and not invite feelings into our bodies. While I feel like there are times that I couldn’t possibly gain enough control to oust my anxiety or pain, etc. I know that when I can at times step back and observe it and realize that I am (to an extent) choosing to experience it, it can be helpful. Even so, work and financial matters are so fear and anxiety producing! I hope you also give yourself permission to feel it when you need to.
Thanks as always for sharing your wonderful insights.
Real fear is sensible as it serves to protect oneself from dangers.
However when I indulge my imagined fears, I amplify and magnify my anxious state thereby destabilising myself.
My greatest fear is that I may miss my next breath and not enjoy my last one.
It’s great to have you here on Maricle Counseling’s blog. Your last line is so memorable – it reminds me of how fleeting life is and how hard to keep that in mind. Let’s not waste our time on petty fears and savor the present. And yet, that’s so hard! Thanks so much for your pithy commentary.