Where fear is, happiness is not ~Seneca
Fear is one of the most powerful forces at work in our lives, and it affects virtually everything we do. Fear keeps us stuck in patterns we know aren’t good for us, and that we desire to change. Fear prevents us from taking risks; we see only failure, foolishness, and ridicule as likely outcomes.
The vast majority of the time, our fear of something is disproportionately greater than the thing itself. It is the fire-breathing dragon we’ve created in our minds, guarding the gateway to success, growth, and freedom.
Fear is the greatest barrier to intimacy. How well can we know ourselves, when part of us is on the other side of the dragon we’re not willing to face? And if we’re afraid to look within ourselves, to know our principles, values, and desires, and to OWN it all, how can we possibly share ourselves fully with another person, or expect them to share fully with us?
Always do what you are afraid to do. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
It is hard to call fear’s bluff, to show it for the blown-up shadow puppet it is, because it feels so overwhelming and real. It is hard to accept that our fear is simply a construct of our minds; that it is a coping mechanism and is therefore learned – and can be unlearned. But this takes practice. To unlearn fear, we have to go through it. We have to face it, every time, and be willing to act.
Faith is the willingness to work against one’s fears; it is believing in yourself and your capabilities and remembering your power (which is what we surrendered in our youth for the sake of coping with life). Developing faith, like any other habit, takes time and feels un-natural. How do you start to believe in yourself, when your fear is telling you not to?
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
~Frank Herbert, “Dune.”
Meditation and visualization are powerful tools in this effort. See yourself challenging and overcoming your fears. Talk yourself through the process. Visualize your success, what it looks like, and how it feels. If you can imagine yourself on the far side of what scares you, you will get there. And you will begin to see yourself for who you are.