“We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.” ~Winston Churchill
Far be it from me to discount this famous quote from a brilliant man, but I can’t help but question whether it’s complete, if not ultimate truth. I’m not discounting the sentiment, and I very much agree with a portion of it, but it leads me to wonder — what if even fear itself is not to be feared? When it comes down to it, there are really only two polar emotions – love and fear. And though, sure, if the world were to operate on love alone, I certainly can’t say I wouldn’t want to live there; who wouldn’t? But what if fear is also our friend and our mentor? What if the presence of fear, when we are aware of it and willing to work through it, can actually deepen the practice of love?
At the risk of semantics, I would venture to ponder that maybe it’s the fear of fear that we actually have to fear. If we see fear as something that will only cause us pain, then it will remain only a dark emotion that monopolizes our hearts and minds, and stalls, if not completely prevents us from living the lives we would have otherwise chosen to live. Fear is something to develop a relationship with, rather than run from or push away. Given that it can stop us from being who we want to be, or take actions we would otherwise want to take, it’s important to move through it, and often times past it. But because it is human to experience fear, and the yin will always be present with the yang, we can’t expect it to go away and simply to never return. And so, we can also learn to acknowledge it, to sit with it, to examine it, to see it, and ideally to converse with it.
Conversation may be the most important part. When we can communicate with our fears, and hear what they have to say, they are able to support us as a friend and teach us as a mentor. Our fears are sometimes there to keep us in alignment with ourselves, and to ensure that we remain safe. We’re lucky that way, that we live in a Universe that gives us reminders, nudges, and even shoves things in our face when we most need them. And, while safety is often more guaranteed on an innate level than our egos would like us to think, it’s still important to check back in from time to time to make sure that our decisions are the right ones for all levels of our well being. Yet regardless of the particular fear’s catalyst, it can act as support system as we move forward in life. Think of it like the friend who comes to support you as you stand on a stage in front of a few thousand people, or as you parachute out of a plane. Though fear often shows up as something that paralyzes us, if we see what it is, acknowledge it, and allow it to stand by our side, it doesn’t have to stop us any longer. Instead we can utilize it as fuel to our fire. We’re able to see other possibilities that weren’t present when standing within the fear, but become apparent once the fear is instead standing by our side. And because we’re so savvy as to have developed a method of communication with our fears, we then have the choice of saying “fuck off”, “thanks for the reminder, now give me some space”, or “wait right there” to our fears as we move ahead.
Fear allows us to let go of what’s standing between us and another person, action, goal, dream, adventure, relationship, or commitment. But if we allow it to, it can still accompany us through to the other side, being love by providing us with a barometer calibrated at love’s opposite. And for me, anything that allows me to get closer to being, living, giving and reveling in the experience of love is something I choose to embrace full on.
In love and abounding joy,
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