Facing it: the fear of fear

person drowns in fear coffee cup

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” Eleanor Roosevelt

(Utterly amazing lady, if you ever feel like being inspired just Google her quotes. Awesome.)

As a culture we have learned to fear fear, yet it is undoubtedly part of the natural ebb and flow of life since time began, as dark is necessary for light, fear is necessary for joy.

We think we want/should/deserve to be “happy”. So when we feel fear our reaction is to run away from it, to numb.

Each of us has our own numbing behaviour, it could be any compulsive version of the following: TV, the net, video games, shopping, work, gossiping, physical appearance, under/overeating, drugs/alcohol, sex, thinking…

But, as Bob Marley said “You can’t run away from yourself”.

Numbing is temporary. The feeling comes back sooner or later, possibly worse. You numb again. Endless cycles of numbing and self distraction occur. And you lose life, because as long as you are numbed to pain you are also numbed to genuine joy.

We forget that many times:

“The scary thing about a scary thing, is the scariness of it” Yogi Tea teabag

I know that my periods of grace and intense spiritual/emotional development have followed periods of utter darkness.

What if we knew that coming out the other side we would be stronger, wiser and more fully evolved? Would we fear fear less?

And what is this thing we think we cannot do? For a long time this meant tangible challenges to me: putting myself first, getting that dream job, leaving a relationship.

Now I think it’s much more ethereal than that: when faced with fear the thing we think we cannot do is live with fear and come out the other side.

(Hint: that’s what we must do!)

One last quote, promise:

“Let everything happen to you. Beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is finalRainer Maria Rilke

*Thanks so much to this Daily Groove post that consolidated some thoughts I had had mulling. I subscribe to this email and I really couldn’t recommend it more highly (not just for parents, either)

**Apologies for the prolific quoting, I just couldn’t help it 🙂

*** If you are interested in the subject of fear psychologically I also recommend this book by Dorothy Rowe

**** Last but not least, props to the cool little cartoon up top, found (as all my imagery) on photopin.com which I also really recommend for easy to find free photos for blogs 🙂

***** No affiliate links to any of the above! But I should!

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Facing it: the fear of fear