Facing Fear

As humans, we certainly experience a wide range of emotions.

Pleasure, joy, excitement, sadness, and an especially focused upon emotion–gratitude–in the wake of last week’s holiday.

All of these are affirmations of being alive. All of these are valuable components of the human experience. And yet, I feel too often we shy away from the admission of a very real–and very powerful–human emotion: fear.

Fear is scary. Its basic composition makes it so. We are afraid of our fear, and for that reason have difficulty facing it. The first step of facing fear is admitting it exists. My favorite way to do that is to talk about it. Talk about it, write about it. And stop avoiding it. But in the hangover period of thanksgiving–we survived Black Friday skirmishes, outrageous lines, and excessive emphasis on our good ole’ American consumer industry, but the family’s out of the house and there are no more leftovers to make stuffing sandwiches anymore–I am truly grateful for FEAR.

Fear is the expression of the things we need to approach in order to grow.

Fear is the unique experience of overcoming things that are new, challenging, foreign, or uncomfortable. Fear may be irrational, but so are some of life’s greatest endeavors: like love, art, and spontaneity.

There was a time for me when I was paralyzed by fear. A time when my fear overwhelmed me, so much so that I stopped moving forward. I stopped being dynamic, evolving, and exploring. It was a time that forced me to be a lot more honest with myself about the things that kept me down–the things that keep many of us down, preventing us from meeting our potential selves, shaking hands, and getting on with it. Life demands we continually face fears: face them, and learn to embrace them, learn to understand the ways in which we uniquely deal with them as individuals, learn our coping mechanisms, learn internal strengths we never knew we had. Until we faced our fear.

The most inspirational folks in life are individuals who have successfully failed. Failed, in the sense that they tried something with a suboptimal outcome, and succeeded in the sense that they attempted to act. Fear is most acute when we see something and feel we cannot access it; when we feel something and we cannot define it; when we want something and we understand it to be out of our control; when we apprehend something out of lack of understanding; when we remember something with negative association; when we hold onto something because of the uncertainty of what will replace it. Fear, then, naturally lessens when action is taken to meet it head-on. Fear of failure, especially, is an innate experience we, as adults, know all too well. Fear can be replaced when it is approached, undertaken, experienced. When we endeavor to understand what we fear, sometimes what is left isn’t fear but rather greater self awareness, and, often times, opportunity.

The best day of my life was the day I replaced my biggest fears with decisive action. I don’t yet know the outcome of those actions, but thinking of fear in a new way has made me eternally grateful. Fear, for me, doesn’t define what I cannot do, but molds what I attempt to do instead.

Fear incites me to be bold. It serves as a reminder that things need to be shaken up. It keeps me moving, and it makes me feel alive. Those positive emotions all can be inspired by facing fear. Facing fear gives me courage, not because I’m a courageous person, but because in living out things that I fear, I am bigger than fear. I can wrestle with the emotion, rather than avoid it. The expression, “let your faith be bigger than your fear” rings true in each step you take to define your fears, instead of letting them define you. Faith in yourself. Faith in the world. Faith in God’s plan to shape your life, if only fear isn’t given the power.

I will end with two of my favorite quotes:

“Replace the fear of uncertainty with curiosity”

“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

Now go battle some fears today, fearless in spite of being absolutely terrified.

Facing Fear, & Forever Yours,

MCF

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Marilyn Fellows says:

    This is great! you certainly nailed it. love you, mom xoxo

    ________________________________

  2. beautifully said… “Fear is the expression of the things we need to approach in order to grow.”

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