In a way, fear is a lot like fire. Fire is essential for life, but it can also rage out of control and even kill you. The goal is not to eliminate fire. You can’t. But you can turn it into an ally. You can set the boundaries and the rules and make fire work for you.
Just as you can make your fears work for you. Fear is supposed to be an ally. Like every other emotion. Not an enemy.
Fear on this planet is out of control. It can only be dealt with one person at a time. And it starts with you.
Are you waiting for somebody else to take charge and end your fears for you? Fear is private. Personal. It attacks in the shadows – the quiet hidden areas of your life. Where nobody else goes. The areas only you know about.
Only you can deal with your fears. Nobody else can climb inside your heart and your mind and help you.
Fear sneaks in and gains a foothold. Then it grows. If you don’t deal with it when it’s small, it will only grow larger and more arrogant. Bolstered by your lack of attention to it. Generally, we’ll ignore, deny, and discount the fear when it’s small. So it grows. Because it can.
We knew it was there, but either we didn’t know how to handle it properly, or didn’t see the need to deal with it.
But like a mold or a parasite, it firmly attaches itself and starts to grow stronger. Until finally it reaches the point where it can no longer be ignored. That’s when you start obsessing on it. That’s when it really starts to get out of hand.
Eventually, fear spreads to infest every part of your being; every area of your life. Sometimes it manifests as anxiety or panic. Often it stays as raw painful fear. It can grow so large that it appears to loom over you.
At this stage you start to feel hopeless, helpless, and overwhelmed. You start to feel desperate. You’re forced to search for solutions. And there are so few good answers.
I’ve seen it over and over with others. And I’ve lived it myself for decades. Fear can be a bully – totally uncaring – relentless in it’s oppression. It will continue to grow until you take positive, concrete steps to end it. The old ways of denial and manipulating your fears won’t work anymore. Maybe you found that out.
The good news is, most of that fear is imaginary. The bad news is, most of that fear is imaginary. Which means it hurts more. It stays around longer. It causes more damage. And all the while, it seems more intractable.
Real fears come and go in a moment of exhilaration. Imaginary fears seem to linger forever. Slowly digesting you – like a spider sucking the insides of a fly. Until the only thing left is a hollow shell. That’s what imaginary fears can do. They’re much worse than real fears.
The first step is to understand the difference between real and imaginary fear. If you experience basically the same thoughts and feelings over and over again – day after day after day – then you can be sure it’s imaginary. No matter how real it seems.
See, what happens is we take a tiny bit of real fear and snowball it into this huge monster called ‘imaginary fear’. Why? Because we’re not cleanly feeling the real fear in the first place.
We end up spinning on a hamster wheel of ‘what ifs’.
Fears consume you if you turn your back on them. Or if you try to ‘explain’ your fears, you’ll get eaten alive. If you try to rationalize them… justify them… blame them on something outside yourself…
Or by trying to avoid them, or deny them, or fight them.
The answer lies with consuming your fears rather than letting them consume you. Take your fear story, hold it up to the light of day, and then slap it down on the kitchen table. Take what’s real and ‘eat’ it. Throw the rest away. That’s where it begins.
No matter how big your fears may seem, you created them. You are more than your fears.