Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pay attention to fear

How do you deal with fear in your life? Do you dread that feeling of fear when you face the unknown? Are you ashamed that you feel fear? Or have you learned to face your fears and see them as familiar companions on the journey?

It's been said that fear is our "pay attention" or "wake up" emotion. That's a good description. Whenever we face change or something unknown and unfamiliar, it's natural to feel fear. That fear tells us that there's something on the horizon that we aren't sure will be bad or good. It's simply a sign that we need to stop and pay attention. Fear alerts us to stay awake and aware—and it's natural and normal.

When I spend time with my 2-year-old grandson, I see what appears to be his fearlessness. He will step off a high step into the empty air without understanding the consequences, perhaps just trusting that we adults will be there. We adults, however, see possible consequences even though we can't always know precisely what might happen as a result of any given experience. And so we feel fear.

What is important is that you and I meet that fear coming at us down the road and get to know it. If you can really take a look at your fear, you can remove the sting of it. You can discover the reality rather than letting your imagination go wild thinking of possible bad outcomes. What's the shape of your fear? What's the reality? What's needless and heedless worry? Is there anything you can do to change the outcome?

Once you have faced up to fear, you know that you can do it the next time you meet it on the journey. It doesn't mean you'll never feel afraid again. It simply means that you'll feel empowered to deal with it. You won't let it hold you back. Know, too, that you can feel empowered and scared at the same time! As we're told, feel the fear and do it anyway!

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