Why Fear Doesn’t have to Be a Bad Thing
December 3, 2007
Coming home to a kicked in door and muddy footprints all over my house wasn’t exactly the Monday I’d had in mind.
All week, I had a hard time going home after work. I made sure someone was there first or there to meet me and walk me inside. I didn’t leave after I got there, unless someone was with me. And that someone was usually my boyfriend. Even though he had other things he needed to be doing. He took care of me without complaining, boarding up doors, securing my home, just smiling and kissing my forehead and saying cheerily, “that’s my job!”
And it was great. I felt secure, because I could ignore the fear. Then, Saturday came and he was out of town on business. And maybe it was the dreariness of the day or maybe it was the fear. But I didn’t really leave my house for more than an hour. And I was miserable. Because I was doing basically nothing other than try to ignore the fear. Even though I was perfectly safe and had plenty of things I could do, even at home.
This is the bad kind of fear. The fear that cripples you into inaction when there are things to be done. The fear of the known and of the unknown, somehow combined to keep every awful scenario front of mind, keeping you focused on itself and not all the other wonderful possibilities. The fear that keeps you from doing what’s sensible, what you’re completely capable of doing, for no good reason but the fear.
But, there’s another kind of fear. Or maybe, there’s another response to fear. Because really, it’s usually the same fear you’re dealing with. It’s how you respond to it that makes the difference. This fear says, call the cops right now, and back out of the driveway immediately, because that’s sensible and productive. There’s the fear that tells you to board up the door and head to the hardware store to get new locks and new doors installed, because that will keep you safe. The kind that tells you to have a home security audit and ask the neighbor down the street who works from home to watch your house while you’re at work, because that will give you back your sense of security. The kind that thinks, well, I wanted an excuse for a new iPod Nano with the screen anyway, because that helps you focus on the positive.
This is the good kind of fear. The kind that realizes that yes, the worst can happen but does something to stop it rather than letting it stop you. The kind that pushes you into improvement rather than paralyzing you. The kind that tells you the status quo isn’t good enough and to believe in something better just around the corner.
This kind of fear is valuable, because it keeps you moving, pushing for the best, even though the worst is always possible too. That’s life, after all. But usually, even though this valuable fear is there, speaking into us, it somehow gets overshadowed by the other fear. And no matter how many positive steps we take, we keep focusing on the bad fear. That’s not a good thing.
We will always have fears. It’s how we respond to them that shapes who we are and what we become. No matter what your fear is, don’t let it overcome you. Don’t sit around, caged in, watching fear stare you down. Make it work for you, even if it’s hard to face that beast.
Let the good kind of fear propel you on to the success you’re dreaming of. Turns out, fear doesn’t have to be what you need to be afraid of. Unless it’s what’s holding you back.