Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What Are Your Afraid Of?

Confront your fears, list them, get to know them, and only then will you be able to put them aside and move ahead.
Jerry Gille

The Geek and I were able to go out to dinner alone the other night for our anniversary.  It was heavenly to just sit there and talk uninterrupted.  We talked about this, that and the other thing.  Seriously, we talked about everything from soup to nuts.  I can't remember what prompted him, but at some point he asked me, "Well, what are you afraid of?" I knew he was asking about a particular thing, but suddenly my mind was racing.  What am I afraid of? Well, where do I begin?

I started to mentally list my fears --- like spiders and lightening and flying and ... and... and...  Before I knew it I had enough items on my list I began to seriously wonder about myself.  I never realized how much of a scaredy cat I was.  The Geek broke my inner turmoil with another question, "What would it take to conquer that fear?" 

Huh, good question.

What would it take?

I never really thought about that.  Take, for example, my fear of spiders.  I mean I have feared spiders my entire life.  I just figured it was something I had to live with.  My fear is not so life limiting --- unless of course there's a big ol' spider between me and somewhere I'd like to be.  But even then, there's usually someone around who I can convince to be my knight in shining armor and slay the ugly beast. 

Unfortunately some of the other fears on my list aren't so innocuous --- like  my fear of going to the doctor.  I suffer from extreme "white coat hypertension" -- my blood pressure goes through the roof when I get it checked at the doctor's office.  I have had it pretty much my whole adult life --- especially since I have put on weight and have the added anxiety of  stepping on the scale and seeing those dreaded numbers come up. It's why I tend to avoid going to the doctor even when I need to.  No question, this has definite life limiting possibilities --- more like life threatening actually --- but what would it take to overcome it? I am not really sure.  I suppose being in better physical shape would curb my fear of the scale and might put me overall more at ease.  Now if I can just get over my fear of going to the gym:)

I have other less "life threatening" fears, that still limit the life I am able to live.  My fear of letting go of things that I feel attached to, particularly getting rid of my "sea of stuff" at home, definitely limits my ability to open my home up to others and share the gift of hospitality.  I have always dreamed of welcoming guests into my farmhouse, but the clutter and chaos always holds me back. 

What would it take to overcome the fear of letting people in?  That is something I am already trying to do --- simplifying my home.  Getting rid of the stuff that doesn't matter to make room for the stuff that does.  It's not something I can do overnight, but the good thing is I am starting to let go.

Then there's the fear that holds me back from writing something besides blog posts.  I have written a few things (I'm even published in two Chicken Soup for the Soul books --- one of them being Inspiration for Writers no less!) but I still let fear cloud my mind. The thought of doing something "more" --- something "bigger" like a novel ---paralyzes me. 

What would it take to overcome my fear that I 'm not a "real" writer?  I am still trying to figure that one out.  I would have thought publication would have been the answer, but I have two pieces published in nationally acclaimed books and I still am filled with fear and doubt.  I love this quote by Lawrence Block:
Once we are aware of our fears, we are almost always capable of being more courageous than we think. Someone once told me that fear and courage are like lightning and thunder; they both start out at the same time, but the fear travels faster and arrives sooner. If we just wait a moment, the requisite courage will be along shortly.
I am not going to let my fear keep me from writing.  I am going to keep plugging away and hope that with time the "requisite courage" will come along, but even if  it doesn't, I won't stop writing.  I write because I like to write.  Writing is a part of who I am and that fact is not dependent on whether I ever write a novel or not.

I am sure if I really looked deeper, I'd find a few more "life limiting" fears lurking around in the abyss that is my mind.  Fears I need to confront and get to know so that I can move ahead and live the life I am meant to.  But for now I'll let them be.  I have enough to tackle for the time being.

What about you?  What are you afraid of?

There are four ways you can handle fear. You can go over it, under it, or around it. But if you are ever to put fear behind you, you must walk straight through it. Once you put fear behind you. Leave it  there.
Donna Favors

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