Fear is the great paralyzing force of life. For me that’s certainly been true.
Let me count the ways I fear:
I fear death, illness, or injury to people I love.
I fear catastrophe…the unforeseen and unstoppable forces that assault life.
I fear loss…loss of relationships, loss of security, loss of order.
I fear uncertainty. I fear choosing poorly.
I fear my own inadequacies and failings.
Out of all of these, what do I control?
The reality is: not much.
I can do my best to be prepared, to be the person I want to be in any given circumstance.
But so much is beyond me, beyond my reach.
When I accept that, the next step is to look at what I can control.
Fear is never going to completely go away. But I can divide fear into the category of “what can I do about it?” and “I can’t do anything about it.”
Thinking about fear this way helps. Helps me focus on what I can manage, prepare for, guard against. One thing I’ve learned to do: I ask what’s behind the obvious fear. For example, if I’m afraid of losing my job, what’s that really about? The job, or what the job represents? Is it the specific job I want to hold, or the security for my family that the job provides?
If I can break fear down, know what’s really behind it, I know what’s critical. I can plan for the possible loss I see on the horizon, do what I can to brace myself.
The other kind of fear? Well, that I have to set aside. No worrying or planning can prevent natural disasters, accidents, life-threatening disease. I don’t want to lose the best of life worrying about the worst of life. That would be a tragedy in every way.
Fear can be a good thing, a motivating thing, when I know how to manage it. It can be a cautionary response to something dangerous.
I won’t say fear is a friend. But it doesn’t have to be the enemy either.
Fear is just an emotion that can give me information. ~ Ed McClune
When I think of it this way, it’s manageable. Fear no longer controls me. I won’t say I control fear. But at least I’m no longer paralyzed by it.
And that’s a good beginning.
When I’m not paralyzed, I can move, and when I move, I progress.
It’s never going to be easy to beat back fear. It is doable. But you have to be fierce about it…fight it. Grow strong. Become resolved. That only happens with time, and proving to yourself that it’s actually possible to outlive your fears.
Yes, sometimes the worst happens. This is life, and there’s no escaping the realities that cause fear. But somehow, somehow, survival may be possible. And if you can survive, you can find your way through fear. One baby step at a time.
What information is fear giving you?