Hey Fear, Piss Off!
Fear: It’s what’s for dinner.
And lunch…and sometimes even breakfast. Fear can consume you, while you continue to consume it.
I know, I know… I said the “F” word.
Again. (Not the first time and certainly will not be the last.)
Like it or not, Fear is a part of our lives. We can try to live fearlessly all we want, yet it lurks in the dark and will try to draw us in at any given moment. Alerting, coaxing, frightening, cajoling, even seducing us with all its forms. Fear is a major component of This Human Experience.
To deny that you have any fear is to deny you are Human. We all have fear(s), feel fear, experience fear, and act on, or out of, fear in a variety of ways. It can feel normal, out of hand, consuming, and debilitating. It can take over our life’s journey if we let it.
Fear, simply put, is a “driver”. But then again, so are we.
So, the question is, who (or what) is driving your life? Do you like the direction it is going? Have you let someone or something else take the wheel and are they/it charting the course for you? When was the last time you took the wheel? Better yet, when was the last time you took the wheel without Fear being your chief navigator?
These are great questions to ask when your life feels out of control and you find yourself feeling angry, scared, stuck and/or depressed. I know this because I have been all of these things and asked these questions in order to regain control in my own life and move forward again.
Learning to recognize Fear, and how/when it grips your wheel is invaluable.
This is not to say that Fear is a bad thing. It’s not. At least not in the purest sense. It is a necessary tool for us to use to keep us safe from harm. It provides us with valuable “red flags” to acknowledge when it’s time to duck, run, take cover, or walk away from environments, people, or situations that may be unsafe, unsuitable, or unpleasant.
Many times, though, we don’t listen to these red flags and wind up becoming the backseat driver. We think we’re in control, yet we’re not the ones actually driving the “car”.
I’ll expand on this some more…
We own Fear, Fear does not own us. However, the stories we create to surround and support Fear is what makes it get out of control. It is what makes us get out of control. We are not separate from it. It is a part of us that needs to be acknowledged, integrated, and understood.
Recognising the stories we create is how we dismantle and own Fear.
Here’s a personal example:
The “Fear of Failure” is a big one that is pretty common among most. I have recognized this one playing a major role in my life on various stages. From my personal life at home, to my professional life in business, it has crept up often. What’s really interesting is how, in fearing failure, I have repeatedly pulled myself back from success, thus causing the thing I feared.
Take this blog for example. I started it nine years ago. This is the eleventh post.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not beating myself up over taking this long to get going. Where is the point in that? It serves no one. It does shock me, however, when I think about all the times I wanted to write, and then didn’t.
Because I was afraid.
The first post went up in 2011 and it took me five years to put up the next few. Although I had a ton more ideas and scribbled down blog “topics” left and right, I took another two year hiatus before the next one went up. Luckily, the time it took to get the next one up was only a few months. The consistency (and time gaps), albeit sporadic, kept improving from there. It went from years in between to now being only a month or less. To be honest, I am really proud of myself for continuing to push through..
What is it that really had me afraid? I dove into this one head first several times.
What if no one reads it? What if no one likes it? What if no one understands, or agrees, or it comes out wrong, or… or…? What if I can’t keep up with it? What if I create expectations I can’t fulfill? What if…what if…what if…? So on, and so forth, BS, BS, BS…
It is amazing the stories we can create to support and give power to our own Fear(s).
As I began to see the pattern and started questioning this Fear, I saw how I had become the master of being mastered by it. I loved writing and sharing ideas. What was really stopping me? Why was I so afraid of “failing”? Why was I so worried about being “successful”? Why was I so afraid to be seen? Or heard? Or understood? Why did I not feel good enough?
There it was. That whole “unworthiness” thing again.
For some ridiculous reason, I thought what I had to say was not worth a hill of beans, yet I could not stop writing idea after idea, and topic after topic. Crazy right? I am not the only one who feels this way, goes through these things, and thinks these thoughts. Clearly I have something to say, and being that I‘ve been around the block (ok, lots of blocks) many times, it might even be of value. What I have to say has value.
I. Have. Value.
Many of us struggle with this. Whether it stems from difficult upbringing, school age drama/trauma, societal constructs and nuances, relationship struggles, what have you…feelings of unworthiness are often the underlying cause of many people’s Fear.
Recognizing the stories and uncovering the triggers are the first steps in dismantling the fortress Fear can build around you to keep you “safe”. While I liked feeling safe, I didn’t like having ideas and topics collecting dust, never being heard. For years, I taught about living a passionate life, yet here I was, keeping my passion tied up in note pads and doc files. Only unleashing it in moments when I felt safe, or good, or worthy.
Pffft! Efff that. Worthy, or not, here I am!
Mama’s in the front seat and has it set on cruise. My Fear is riding along in the back seat, still balking, yet enjoying the ride. You should have heard it pipe up when I decided to write this post. Eeeesh! What a flipping crazy story it had for me today.
I pulled over a couple times, made some pit stops, cleared my head (and my heart), got back behind the wheel, and lovingly told Fear to “piss off”:
“Thanks for caring. Relax. Buckle your seat belt. And, hey, I got this.”
No GPS needed. I know the way and I’ve got lots to say. Forward HO!
To anyone reading this post: Thanks for going along for the ride.
~ Jody Pogo
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