I was talking to someone recently and somewhere along the conversation, the topic of fear came up. He asked what fears I have/had, to which I answered, fear of failure and rejection. I told him I felt I was over them but later on in the conversation, I said something that indicated a fear of rejection. He called me out good-naturedly and said maybe I’m not completely over this fear. I laughed and agreed perhaps.
That conversation played in my mind again and I realized that the fear never ceases. Fear is a human phenomenon, universal across all cultures, all peoples, all time. It’s relentless because we inherently have the capacity for it. We’re wired like that and it saves our asses at times. It’s necessary. We’re human.
I realized what I should have said in the conversation was: the way I approach fear today derails fear itself. In the face of it, I no longer shy away, retreat to the known, maintain my ego, guard my heart. The pull of fear is so familiar sometimes I used to let it build, believing that it was true, that I had no say in it. Then, over time, through faith and real-life experiences, I realized I am more than that. We are created for fear, as well as, triumph, relentlessness, courage, perseverance.
And it’s not that I dismiss, suppress, ignore fear. It’s not that I battle it. I let it come, when I feel it creeping. I face it, I analyze it, I identify the source of it (and I noticed it usually originates from within, from past experiences, etc.). I strip it down from an unknown nebulous creature straining to ruin me to an understanding of the reason for the fear and my reaction. Then it no longer has power over me. Fear is not my enemy – it identifies my weaknesses, areas that require a little processing and reflection.
And what we discover about ourselves, our potential and abilities – the truth sets us free, no? I think this famous utterance shows JFK understood fear.
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
For many moons, I didn’t know what this meant. Then I realized, it’s not the actual “thing” that is to be feared. It’s the fear that cripples us that needs to be reckoned with.
So do I still have fear? Hell yes. Do I run from it? Nah. Who knows, maybe there’s something in the future that I will shamefully run, tail under my legs. But for now, there’s no time to let fear run the show.