Halloween brings us a perfect excuse to look at fear, and how fear might be keeping us from living fully into our potential. We are talking about psychological fear, not instinctual, “get me out of here before that tiger has me for lunch” fear.
There are two instances when psychological fear shows up in most of us:
1. When things suddenly change: The end of a relationship, getting fired from a job, and moving are 3 biggies.
2. When we are faced with doing something different: Like, dating again after a 10 year hiatus, taking singing lessons, or retiring.
In times like this our ego can throw a hissy fit, claiming, “Hey, this sucks, and it wasn’t in the brochure!” If we let ego get away with this kind of catastrophizing, suffering follows. Fear is often the hood ornament on our suffering.
The irony is that “feeling the fear, and doing it anyway” consistently brings us what we really want and need in life. The most successful, happy, authentically fulfilled people deal with fear by getting the support they need. That support typically includes one or more of the following: individuals, community, and a faith system.
It’s remarkable how much fear dissipates the moment we look another person in the eye and describe what’s bothering us. Or the moment we hand it off to a higher power, “Here, how ’bout you take the fear. I’ll do the work. Deal?”
I don’t know that we can ever “overcome” fear. We can get better at not letting fear take us into paralysis. Every time we move through another experience of fear by doing it anyway, we see it wasn’t the boogeyman we created in our thoughts. Turns out, once again, it was just another kid in a costume knocking at my front door in search of candy.