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.”
“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?”
The illustrations, by Kris Wiltse, are from the “Afraid,” “Empowered,” and “Creative” cards, which are part of the Mixed Emotions card deck.
2 Replies to “Making peace with fear”
Turning fear into a positive outcome is the best thing to do. Think of something positive when fear enters, walking on the beach or hearing your favorite song. So, he didn’t stay for coffee? Because you found the positive it made fear weak.
Thank you for writing this Petra and for sharing it with me. It clearly takes courage to be honest and genuine with ourselves to get things moving along. I really enjoyed identifying with all the different parts of this piece. The ultimate in courage is inviting him in for another game. Your creative perspective is empowering. You provide an example of a very useful tool.