I see a lot of talk about dealing with fear. I suppose in great part it's because of the set of people I hang around with, folks who want to achieve things and push themselves. In great part it's about myself too, because I'd like to be one of the people who achieves things. I'm tired of living a dull life. I'm never going to be a great explorer or a daredevil, but I'd like to have a little adventure, please. There's a reason I'm drawn to the friends I have, the ones who say don't let fear give you any guff.
I need to take another look at fear, because of what it is and what it's for. Fear is a healthy self-defense mechanism. Fear is supposed to be a human warning siren, to keep people from getting themselves killed. That's what it's good for.
There's a problem when fear starts piping up over non-life-threatening things. That's where anxiety comes from. That's where crippling doubt and stifled lives come from. Ask me how I know about those things.
But fear is still just trying to do its job. It's trying to say, don't go out there, because you don't know what might happen to you. There might be tigers, there might be sharks, you might get killed and eaten.
When I hit a level of fear like the one I felt last Tuesday, there's no use in telling myself "stand up to it like a man, don't let it boss you around." For one thing, I'm a woman. Standing up to it "like a man" wouldn't make any sense. But more importantly, it's too earnest. It's all too real. This fear is rooted in a part of me which really is convinced there are tigers out there, and if I venture forward, I really am going to be brutally killed and eaten. Part of my unconsciousness is absolutely convinced of this, and I'm not going to be able to slip around it and go on, or stand up to it and win. It simply doesn't work. I have never been able to do it.
So I've tried something different. Something which is better. I'm asking my fear what it is so afraid of. What's out there, fear? What are you trying so hard to save me from? Because I don't want to be killed and eaten, but I don't want to hang around in this little metal cage for the rest of my life, either. What are we actually talking about, here? What's the real danger you're hiding from?
Not tigers. Something worse is coming to eat you, fear says. Something which has bitten you before. Something you wear deep scars from.
This, to me, is the scariest worst thing imaginable. This is a danger worth respecting. Because it has bitten me hard, and I do wear the scars, and those scarred places are sensitive and weak and still ache sometimes.
But I think it's time to stop running. Time to look at this threatening thing, look at it frankly in the clear light of day. Time to marshal my wits and muster the evidence against it. Time to trade fear for action.