I had written this to myself with what seems like eons ago about fear. I thought I might share it with you. To give you some background regarding this article, I had been laid off from my job. I was very frustrated and felt quite alone. I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do next.
Fear – A Four-Letter Word: Story
Fear is a funny thing. It can be very good for us or very harmful. It all depends on how we deal it with when fear appears. Fear of something or someone that means to do us harm is something we must always pay attention to and take the necessary action to avoid situations that would put us in harms way. Fear of change, failure looking foolish, losing something like a friend or a job or the dreaded making a mistake (trying to be perfect) can really get in the way of making good sound decisions. I’m not saying we should act without thinking through what it is we’re dealing with. I’m also not saying we should make thoughtless statements that could do harm, tell someone off or quit our job because we hate what we’re doing. What I am saying is to be thoughtful about how we should respond to a situation. If the circumstances are right, take a risk and do what we know is the right course of action. When we don’t, then we do great harm to ourselves.
This is why I believe ‘Fear’ is truly a four-letter word. It causes us not to take positive action when we know we should. We don’t say what we really think and feel in a thoughtful way, because of the fear of losing something or making a mistake. It causes us to doubt ourselves and second-guess what we’re really thinking, the actions we’ve taken or need to take. If fear didn’t exist, we could and would make very different decisions.
It’s hard to remove the fear factor from our mind when it is so well rooted. It is OH so easy to see and feel the fear and OH so hard not to make it a factor in our lives.
A phrase I’ve used so often when counseling others is “If we continue to do the same things, don’t be surprised if we get the same results”. I truly believe the reason we continue to repeat the same patterns is because it’s more comfortable not to change when fear is present. To change our ways of doing things or a course of action is stepping out of the box which represents taking a risk. The crux of it is, we’ll change whether we like it or not, we’ll make mistakes, look foolish, lose friends and jobs. That is a part of life.
Nothing is ever perfect. Maybe going for “good enough” and doing the best we can is sufficient.
That said I finally realized that I was letting fear keep me from moving forward. How did this all FINALLY sink into my brain? It sometimes takes a jolt of some kind to get us to see more clearly.
I had an accident that I caused by not paying attention, not being in the moment. It happened because I had been ruminating about all that I had going on so that I missed paying attention to my environment. I wasn’t in the present moment in my 3000-pound car, going 35 miles an hour. The good news is no one was hurt, and I had great insurance.
When I got out of my damaged car to talk to the other driver, I burst into tears blurting out all my fears and frustrations from the last six months. All I could think of at that moment was HOW EMBARRASSING. That was when a miracle happened. The other driver, a very large, muscular black man by the name of David put his arms around me and said; “Shit happens, everyone is safe, the cars can be fixed, and I am so sorry for your troubles, but that can be fixed too”. I was reminded, “When the student is ready the teacher arrives” and in this case the teacher’s name was David.
The question was what did I do about this realization. So here were my thoughts. Sometimes it isn’t the risk taking that is the most important action, it’s taking any action and then watch and see where it leads and to be ok with what comes of it. I’d been working on finding out what it was I wanted to do. Making a decision to make a move in a direction that felt right was a start. I didn’t want to take a traditional path to get there, wherever that may be. I realized that this new path would be difficult at times, bumpy, messy, sometimes scary or exciting and fun because it was a new adventure. I’m not sure where it would wind up, and I was ok with that. I knew if I had faith in myself and did the very best that I could, I WOULD find my way. After all, it’s all about the journey and not the destination.
Finally, I would like to end with how this all fits into our lives. Taking a “road less traveled” is about not letting fear stop us from doing what is right and good. It’s about taking action without fear, keeping a positive attitude along the way and taking care of ourselves as we go.
Shortly after writing this I started drawing, and working on building the website “Finding Our Way Now”. You just never know where life will lead you when your ready to put fear aside and take action.
How do you see fear? Does it stop you from doing what you should? What has been your experience with fear? Please, do tell.
Life’s journey continues…