Which Fears to Overcome

Sure, we have to overcome our fears, but what does this mean, when some fears are actually good for us! Appropriate fear keeps us alive. But it’s actually important that we overcome our fears of things we CAN actually do…

I had finally cajoled my nephew to jump from what we call “Bomby Rock.And as we swam back to shore, we talked about fear.

“Some fears are good for us, protect us from harm. Like at the top of Bluff Knoll (a sheer cliff face 100’s of meters high), fear tells us wisely, “Leave a big margin for error when approachin the edge – the fall will kill you!” You can’t make that jump, no matter how much you overcome your fear. Overcoming fear is not a good thing at that point. Fear is your friend.

“But at Bomby Rock, fear stops you from doing something YOU CAN ACTUALLY DO: they’re the fears to overcome. You know you can run to the edge, you know you can jump out, you know the water won’t harm you. You are capable of it all. If it’s just that you’re afraid – if that’s all that’s stopping you – then break that fear!”

“In fact, we’ll have a lot of situations in life like that, and we MUST get used to breaking that kind of fear, which is NOT our friend. It’s a chain holding us back.”

I was talking to a couple intending to marry, who said that “She analyses risk situations too much, and often it becomes analysis paralysis.” Fear holds her back. Why? If it’s not the circumstances themselves, then maybe it’s something inside her, maybe a hidden memory, or learned pattern, or ingrained self-message, that’s telling her to “play safe.” So she never enjoys her potential “Bomby Rocks.” Sure she stays safe, but never really lives.

On the other hand, “He can be too gung-ho. Leaping before really looking.” He could be in danger of jumping off his “Bluff Knolls.” (financially, socially, family, spiritually, etc. And this includes lazy behaviors, like looking after myself without considering the impact on loved ones.)

Because I’ve practiced this fear assessment quite a lot over the years (including facing what’s going on in me, and changing it), now when I face a risky situation [like Bomby Rock, Baden Powell, buying a mortgage, doing purposeful work for low income, meeting new people, neighborhood action, public speaking], I make all the assessments I reasonably can, and if there’s a darn good reason not to do it, then I don’t.  But if it’s something I can do (and no good reason not to) with a reasonable margin for error, I DO IT. I do NOT let fear stop me. And I even feel less afraid these days.

As my daughter was contemplating her leap, she said, “I’m nearly sure.” Her cousin replied, “If you’re 90% sure, don’t wait for the last 10%: it only comes after you jump!” Wise words indeed. As someone else said, “Faith starts as an experiment, and ends as an experience.” That’s why my life is an adventure.

As a post-script: On Bomby Rock, if you start, then decide half way to pull out, you introduce a new risk of overbalancing and just falling straight down, which would mean cheese-grating your backside on the barnacles below. This could be a metaphor of how to attack your fears too. But I’ll leave that for you to ponder.

With Courage & Faith,