“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”–Dale Carnegie
If there is a feeling I know intimately, it’s fear. As a child, I was afraid of the dark and slept with my closet light on. I closed the closet door, of course, because the open space and shadows coming from the closet were scary, too.
A tiny sliver of light, however, was enough to keep my fear of the dark and the monsters in my closet at bay so I could fall asleep.
It would be great to be able to tell you that now I’m a grownup, I’ve outgrown all my fears, because, logically, darkness and open closet doors don’t equal monsters. Being an adult means never dealing with fear again, right?
No, darling, we fight a variety of fears daily as adults now, too, don’t we? Fear is a part of being human.
Though our adult fears may seem a little different, most of them come from the same place: we acquire our fears through the act of living. Why? Because, darling, science tells us that we are born with only two fears: falling and loud noises. They are a part of our DNA with the single aim of keeping humans alive and motivated to avoid potential dangers.
Fear is a mechanism for survival for each generation. There’s nothing about the dark or monsters. There are no bats or snakes. Yet, those fears are so real that they are debilitating to so many people.
And, my dearest, there are other fears that many of us don’t want to admit to. Like the fear of commitment or the fear of being loved. The fear of rejection or the fear that we will never belong to the cool kids table. We may be afraid of loving others or at be afraid of being seen as vulnerable or imperfect. Those who fear failing usually fear success as well.
Though our inborn fears of loud noises and falling help us live longer, most of our fears aren’t deadly, yet they can paralyze us. Our fears keep us from moving forward and stepping up in our own lives.
Our older adult minds become craftier at pretending we aren’t afraid. Our minds are also devious in the ways it tries to keep us from coming up against any of our fears. We are busy, oh so busy. We procrastinate. We do tasks that don’t challenge us. We self-sabotage. We wear masks and hide pieces of ourselves from those we love.
The child inside, though, knows the real secret to managing our fears: we turn on the light. We turn on the light, not to become fearless, but to find our own way to deal with our fears. To give ourselves that sliver of light and help us be a little bit brave.
Sometimes, we need to uncover the origination points of a fear and get logical about our inability to have controlled the situation. We have to step away from our shame about our fears and explore it. We need to extend ourselves grace and compassion as we traverse the scary things. We need to be witnessed as we work on managing our fears. We need to be willing to seek – and actually accept – help.
We turn a light on our fears so that we can acknowledge them. We acknowledge our fears so that we can do what’s necessary to move forward: take action in the face of our fears.
Fear is a part of being human, but darling, we do not have to allow fear to rule us. You will never achieve your desires if you let your fears and shame paralyze you. Shame and fear keep us from taking action, yet when we do take action, we get a little braver. When we do things we are afraid of doing, we grow in our confidence.
We are human and will never be without fear, yet we can still move towards our dreams when we stop trying to pretend our fears don’t exist. So, darling, I challenge you to turn on the light. Shine a light on your fear and any shame around it. Make the decision that you aren’t going to allow fear to call the shots. Commit to take action and do something that’s a little scary.
Because, my dearest, you deserve to live a life that is loving, nurturing and fulfilling. And that means shining a light on our fears so that we don’t allow them to paralyze us.
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