Making peace with fear

Lately, I have been thinking of emotions as messengers. I’ve welcomed many of them–even negative ones.  So far, fear is the only messenger that I’ve wanted to kill. It’s the emotion that I’ve had the most difficulty sitting with and listening to. And as luck would have it, it has been pulling up a chair at my kitchen table often, lately.

What?!” I say impatiently. “Why do you keep coming back?”

“I have a gift for you,” Fear replies.

“A gift? From you?”

“Yes. I will sit here until you respond to me.”

“Well, I’m talking to you. Isn’t that enough?”

“No, you must act.”

I am not in the mood to engage in a dialog with Fear. But I want him out of my kitchen in the worst way, so I decide to humor him and think about all the ways I could act.

“OK,” I say. “I guess I could run away from what I fear.”

“True,” Fear says. “You could literally abandon it, or you could withdraw from it emotionally.”

“I could get drunk.”

“You wouldn’t feel the fear so much then. You could also engage in activities that distract you from what you fear.”

“I could deny that what I fear exists,” I say.

“True. But are those your only choices?”

“No,” I say. “I could attack what I fear.”

“How would you do that?”

“I’d come up with ideas for overcoming what I fear and decide which idea is best.”

“And then?”

“Then I’d implement my idea.”

“How does that make you feel?”

“A little more empowered. I feel less like a victim of fate. By taking matters in hand, I feel more like I’m the master of my own destiny.”

“Are those the ony feelings that come up for you?”

“No. I like brainstorming, coming up with new ideas, and solving problems. It makes me feel creative.”

“That,” says Fear, “Is my gift to you.” He pushes back his chair and gets up to leave.

“Wait,” I say. “Would you like some coffee?”

Afraid Creative

The illustrations, by Kris Wiltse, are from the “Afraid,” “Empowered,” and “Creative” cards, which are part of the Mixed Emotions card deck.