Fear lies in the deepest part me, lurking tentatively; waiting, waiting, waiting. With all senses on high alert, Fear is on surveillance, ready for the first sign of disturbance. He warms up like a boxer in the ring; light on his feet, jab, jab, jab! Fear is always ready for action. Although his outer edges are taped to keep him in submission, Fear wriggles and jiggles and jostles to free himself from these restraints. He wants to move. He is the ultimate perfectionist, not missing an opportunity to alert to danger.
Fear moves slowly at first, still trying to break free. I hardly notice his presence but with time, Fear gathers momentum. His dance increases in tempo and he moves swiftly and with agility. Before long, I realise I am not Fear’s dance partner. Fear is the master, and I am the slave. He has quickly grown in size, intensity and dominance. He steadily mounts his attack, ready to invade my peaceful presence. I see his jagged edges, red and poker hot. Fear intrudes into my deepest thoughts, mocking and humiliating. He burns hotter and hotter until he has enveloped my entire being and wreaks havoc on my body. I am easily obsessed with Fear: frightening, enveloping, aggressive and repulsive.
Fear tells me, “You’re not good enough, you’re making mistakes, you’ll be sorry.” Fear dwells in matters most important to my heart; health, relationships, money and career. He cries in my ear, “What if? What if? What if?” Sometimes he relents from this call and shrieks, “If only! If Only!”
Fear lingers and punches my pillow at night, rendering sleep impossible. I try to ignore him. I try to block him. I try to destroy him. Fear is resilient. He may disappear momentarily but he will be back. Fear is simply relentless.
Fear brings his friends Certainty and Security. They are a collaborative bunch and they band together to taunt and tease me. Fear introduces the pair and then they loudly chant in my direction, “You can’t live without us! You need us. Your family need us.” My heart sinks as I begin to surrender to their call. Fear smiles.
Then they quietly sneak off to visit my family and friends, sharing their sage advice once more. My loved ones listen and heed the trio’s warnings. “Don’t do it!”, “Be sensible!” they plead. My heart sinks even further and Fear smiles.
But then, there are other times that are not so successful for the bearers of doom and gloom. When Fear and his friends come to play some can shrug and say, “I see you there Fear. I see your friends! There is no place here for you. There are decisions to be made, tasks to be completed. There is no time, no place for you.” Fear shrugs, beckons his friends and together they slink off.
Today I must face Fear head on. I must assert myself! I am dressed in my armour, ready for battle. I decide on a head to head tussle. Fear has won his last round for a while.
I turn to face Fear head on. He is bold and strong, resilient and fierce. I am silenced by his glare. I breathe slowly inwards. I count; 1,2,3. My eyes carefully scrutinise Fear little by little. Really, who is this Fear? I owe him nothing. I see him. I hear him. He is there to warn me but not to suppress. I will not surrender to Fear.
I move closer to Fear and like Max, King of the Wild Things,* I say to him, “Be still!” I stare Fear in the eyes and I tell him clearly, “I hear you Fear but I’m going to do this my way!” I continue, “Today I am filled with Faith, I am Empowered, Assertive and Resilient." Fear diverts his gaze and turns his back. As I stare after him I realise his jagged edges have begun to smooth and his colour has faded, ever so slightly. It’s the first time I have noticed this change in Fear.
I have a vision for my life. It’s a dream that makes my heart sing and dance. It’s my dream, and therefore, making it happen is my responsibility. Fear influences my ability to action this dream. Lao-Tzu said, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Today this single step is to face Fear and his friends and tell them, “I hear you Fear but I’m doing this my way!”
* Sendak, M. 1963, Where the Wild Things Are, USA, Harper & Row
How has fear dominated your life?
What strategies do you use to overcome fearful situations?