Fear only has power if you run from it.
It’s a cold, dark night. You crawl into bed and relish the feeling as your feet slice between the crisp sheets. Your body settles as you pull the soft blue and white cotton up to your chin and exhale, releasing your breath like a prayer for a long night of peaceful rest.
You turn out your lamp and nestle your head into the pillow. The pillowcase gives way, allowing the weight of your head to push into its dense centre, creating the perfect groove.
As you lay warm and comfortable, your mind starts to release, and you close your eyes, drifting off from the shore of a busy day. Just before you feel the sweet release, you hear a sound.
It’s soft and subtle, but misplaced. Your body stiffens, and your ears perk to the noise. It sounds like the lock on the door, jolting back and forth. Then a loud bang bursts through the air, causing every hair on your body to stand straight up.
Your eyes widen, your heart races as you violently pull the covers back and toss them like garbage at the county fair.
Quietly you stand and make your way to the door. One soft step in front of the other allowing only one part of your foot to touch the floor at a time. More noise drifts up the stairs, and you hear footsteps and whispering.
You freeze, your heart pounds, blood pulses and you can hear the echo filling your throat and ears. Rapid breaths drown out the sound, and you tell yourself to calm down.
You start to analyze and make a plan. Get your phone from the nightstand, then get to the kid’s room and from there, dial 911. You grab your phone, and as you make your way silently across the cold hardwood floor, you hear, “Kitty, kitty, kitty…”
Your chest expands, and you inhale a long deep breath and release it out your mouth. You know that voice. You’re married to that voice.
Back from his business trip early, you make your way downstairs to greet him and allow the adrenaline pulsing through your body to subside.
Our minds have this incredible ability to take us on trips around the world, through space and even back in time.
In an effort to preserve life, we are exceptional at predicting the future. Except of course when we get it wrong.
“I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life. Some of which actually happened.” Mark Twain
Things are more frightening when we don’t know what they are. The stranger that breaks into your house makes you scared, anxious and ready to attack until you realize it’s not a stranger.
The ghost under the bed, causing your blood pressure to skyrocket is a window left slightly ajar and a branch scrapping the pane.
The fire that will burn down your house, the job you want but aren’t good enough for, and the nine cats you’re going to own when you’re an old spinster with no husband, no friends and no money — all factious.
But they feel real, alive and right in front of you in your mind.
To beat the circuit of everlasting hell, you have to beat it at its own game. Much like Rumplestilskin, you need to name the monster.
When your mind starts pumping out scenarios, you need to pull back the reins and force it to answer your questions:
Is this true? Is this real?
I’ll never get a boyfriend!
Can you be 100% certain this is true?
There are eight billion people on the planet now. If you’ve personally met them all and they’ve rejected you, then yes, it is true. I’m sorry. There’s no getting around that one.
But if not, then it simply isn’t true.
This is your mind creating a story for you to believe.
Here’s the thing. You don’t have to believe it. You don’t have to buy a ticket for the bullshit.
What makes you feel better — to think that you will always be a weak, useless, unaccomplished loser?
That anything can happen, and you could realize happiness at any moment.
Which is truer?
Neither. Both are equally false realities.
I know, just stay with me.
Why would you want to believe the statement that is going to make you want to crawl under the bed and give up showering?
Why not go for the rose-coloured glasses, life is a box of chocolate, it’s all going to work out in the end so I better shower and be ready statement?
It’s a choice.
If you make the choice often enough and for long enough, it will turn into a habit. But it remains a choice that you can choose differently at any time.
My son broke his femur when he was seven years old, jumping off the playground equipment at his school. Snapped it right in half.
Blech, it still sends shivers up my spine to think about the x-ray they casually thrust in front of my face when I asked, “So, is it broken?”
He could have avoided playgrounds in fear he could get hurt. That would have prevented the whole sorted mess.
The initial pain and shock. The surgeries to put rods and pins in his leg. And of course, the swelling and inability to move for days afterward.
He could have avoided the nightmares, the fear of never walking again, the disappointment that hockey and skiing season were over before they began.
But if you ask him if he regrets breaking his leg, if it would have been better not to have ever played on the playground, he would give you a wholehearted “No way!”.
Missing out on all the fun, laughter and friendship would not be worth avoiding the pain and discomfort of a broken leg. Even a femur split in two.
He lost a lot that winter. But he gained confidence in the reality that bones break, then they heal.
Bad things happen, but we get back up.
The best lesson he learned was that family, friends, nurses, doctors, teachers and strangers rally around us to lift us up when life throws a curveball.
There is beauty and compassion in every horrific tragedy if you can open your heart and let it in.
We don’t apply for jobs, avoid making friends, don’t ask out the hot guy in accounting because of the fear that we will be rejected and that rejection will somehow destroy us.
It‘s no different than a stranger in your house. It’s a made-up story.
It’s time to name the monster.
It’s time to stop letting fear and discomfort change the course of our lives because of what if’s and imaginary stories.
Own your truth:
Fear and discomfort do not stop me.
It may not always feel like it, but you’re in charge up there. You decide what to focus on and what thoughts get your attention.
You can accept and agree with the thoughts that are there to keep you safe and out of harm. And ignore the ones that have no basis in reality.
Like a toddler having a tantrum, simply step over them and keep going.