What is FEAR? Some have coined the acronym for FEAR as False Evidence Appearing Real. While this statement makes sense in certain cases, it diminishes the emotion of fear itself as a real powerful force to motivate us into action.
FEAR is an emotion we experience with regards to a thought or reaction of real or imagined stimuli. It is the feeling, for instance, that my friend expressed when she found out an operation was necessary to remove cancer growing in her kidney. It is the feeling a parent experiences when a child runs out in front of a car. It is that feeling which keeps us paralyzed from moving towards our dreams when we perceive the risk is too high or the actions necessary are beyond our comfort zone. Fear has many faces…both real and imagined.
“Fear is a powerful form of thought. It paralyzes the nerve centers, thus affecting the circulation of the blood. This, in turn, paralyzes the muscular system, so that fear affects the entire being, body, brain and nerve, physical, mental, and muscular.” ~ The Master Key – Part Nineteen
Last January my husband, Rick, and I took an anniversary trip to Hawaii. We spent one day hiking the Pololu Valley on the Big Island. Our hike took us up and down three cliffs and valleys through the rain forest for more than half a day. Many times the trail passed narrowly around side cliffs that dropped 30-200 feet below. I was so paralyzed by the view and perceived danger that loomed 5 feet away from me that I could not move past the gentle sloping terrain of the trail right beneath my feet. It wasn’t until Rick stopped to give me a hand that I felt brave enough to walk past the drop off.
The fear I felt hiking along the cliffs was very REAL to me. If I slipped I could fall 20-40 feet with little to stop my slide. When I had something to focus on the fear subsided and I made head way. Staring at the cliffs was paralyzing while keeping my focus on the trail beneath my feet lent some freedom to move one step forward.
Whether your fear is a REAL threat or imagined is solely up to your perspective. The fear of falling and getting hurt or possibly dying created a block for me to move forward. For my husband the fear of dying or falling was not evident and he easily hiked those parts of the trail that were harrowing without skipping a beat. In fact, it seemed to be more exhilarating for him to be on the edge and fueled his passion for hiking even more.
In one section of our hike there were ropes to hold. The trail was steep but the security of having something solid and strong to hold onto eliminated my fear. I turned my focus and attention to moving methodically, hand over hand, down the steep slope holding the rope, step by step like a gentle rappel. The rope turned my fear into courage.
The metaphor in life is that when I am paralyzed by moving outside my comfort zone…I NOW ask myself, “Who or what lifeline can I throw myself to eliminate the desperation I feel at this turn?”
This question has made all the difference for me. I don’t have to be brave alone. It is OK to follow my dream, be on the cliff, and ask for wings to fly!