Another Name for Fear


I’m tired of living in fear.

I was taking a shower recently, when suddenly, those words popped into my mind. It was almost as if someone had whispered them into my ear, as if it were a new concept I’d never considered before, and my brain took the notion and ran with it. Thoughts tumbled out of me faster than the warm water washing over my skin—all the ways I lived in fear, commencing with my childhood religious lessons, which, incidentally, probably effected my psyche more than just about anything, beginning with the ubiquitous FEAR THE LORD which absolutely HAD to be at the very top of my list.

And then came:
fear of failure
fear of terrorist attacks
and tornados, earthquakes, floods and fires;

fear of having my identity stolen
fear of being in a car accident
of being alone
or misunderstood;

fear of having people know too much about me because they might not like me if they knew the real me,
fear of thinking that my health issues are with me forever just because I’ve had some of them for a very long time;

fear of not being in control
of pissing people off
fear of not having enough money,

fear of not being an effective teacher, speaker, guide, writer,
of not being a good enough wife, mom, grandma, sister, daughter, friend, citizen…

And as these fears tumbled out of my brain, my brain also said, Damn! Do I really have that many fears inside of me? I was under the impression that I’d been doing a pretty good job of managing my fears, my limiting beliefs, but apparently, there are things still imbedded deep in my soul that continue to have me by the throat. And I bet if I thought about it even a little bit longer, I could come up with a whole bunch more.

No wonder I feel like I’ve got one foot nailed to the floor; my fear is keeping me from moving forward. Believe it or not, there is also the fear of achieving one’s goals; I could probably add that one to my list as well. You know, because if you achieve your goals, what then? You’ll be a different person! You’ll have responsibilities you never knew existed! It’s safer and less-stressful to remain miserable.

Well, I’m tired of living in fear. It is not serving me. It has no positive ramifications. Anthony Robbins said, “Life is found in the dance between your deepest desire and your greatest fear.”

I love that quote. To me, that almost makes it sound as if fear and desire are made of the same stuff—just on opposite ends of the spectrum—and could very well be true. They are, perhaps, two flavors of the same sweetness, which is why it seems there’s a fine line between the desire to do something that elicits fear, in spite of the fact that it is terribly exciting—and the ability to exhibit self-control no matter how tempting the sweet, because in the end, the long-term payoff (living in fear) is sweeter than the temporary desire. And by desire here, I mean the desire to achieve your goal, or your lifelong dreams.

How can fear be sweeter than doing something one desires? Desire, combined with fear, is exhilarating, enticing. Which is why people do stuff like jump out of airplanes, go bungee-jumping or parasailing, ride rollercoasters, drive fast cars, etc. because it’s an acceptable way of doing something that goes against our better judgment of remaining safe at all costs. Under normal conditions, it’s against the law to drive too fast, to jump off a bridge or a mountain because if any of these things were done without safety gear, the result, obviously, is death.

Like desire, fear is intoxicating, but it is also suffocating. Fear seduces us with its lies, then slithers into our minds like a serpent made of black smoke, then it smothers us. Like smoking, or a drug, it feels so fine as we suck it into our lungs and blow it out–in and out, in and out–and all the while thinking it’s comforting us, but before we know it, it rules us. Fear is a rotten, lying, deceitful drug addiction, and I’m so angry with myself for allowing it to control me all these years.

Not any more, baby.

From now on, I choose to use fear, not as a means to cause me to freeze in my tracks, to back off, or to run and hide, but as an opportunity to look at things from a new perspective. I’m going to use fear as a signal that I need to change my thoughts, my beliefs and my emotions instead of allowing them to control me.

I’m going to use my fear to change my life for the better. Methinks it will be a lifelong process, but then, that’s what life is for—learning and growing, and sharing what we’ve learned.