May 6, 2011
My daughter, Charlotte, who is ten, has a tremendous fear of thunder, lightning and tornados. Having been caught in a sudden flash storm as a youngster is at the root of her phobia. As you can imagine, she was quite concerned about her move to Arkansas which she had discovered via her obsession-driven research had a proclivity for bad weather.
The significant thunder and wind of April, Annie and I feared, might drive Charlotte to her limit. But a funny thing happened on the way to the safe room. As Charlotte encountered opportunities to face what she feared and to learn from her experience, the level of her anxiety began to dissipate. While she’s not over it entirely, she’s dealing with things more constructively with every storm she faces.
When we face our fear, fear fades.
That’s the point for the week.
Whether you’re a ten year old dealing with astraphobia (that’s Latin apparently for fear of storms) or a grown adult facing any other form of anxiety, when we confront that which we are afraid of, we’re often left wondering what we were scared of in the first place.
We learn that we’re bigger than what scares us, or that what we were scared of wasn’t that big, or both. We discover that we have a built-in capacity to deal with more than we imagined. We find out that with help there is little we cannot overcome.
When held back by fear, we achieve a state of paralysis that prevents us from becoming all we can be. Fear gets in the way of positive interaction with others. Fear becomes a prison with walls so wide and high that our view of the real world fades from sight.
The path forward begins with confronting our fears – figuratively squaring our shoulders, setting our jaw, and stepping in the way of that which imposes limits on our true potential.
The idea isn’t to put ourselves in harm’s way. There are after all, plenty of things in life that can hurt us or worse. The notion is around refusing to let fear of these things keep us from achieving all we want or becoming all that we can be.
When we do, we’ll more often win. We’ll remove impediments to productive human relationships. Most importantly, we’ll soar to heights that the weight of fear would never allow us to reach.
Confront your fears.
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