“I learned that courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he would conquers that fear.” -Nelson Mandela
It’s been a scary week, not only in our world but here at Chautauqua Institution where The Nature of Fear has been the theme this past week. The speakers have been excellent, including psychologist Dan Ariely, former director of UK’s spy organization M15 Stella Rimington (the model for James Bond’s M as played by Judi Dench), horror film specialist Adam Lowenstein, and creator of Netflix’s House of Cards Beau Willimon, among others.
I was reminded that there is so much to be afraid of today: nuclear war, (let’s cease the saber rattling), losing your job, illness (especially if you lack health care), death, troubled relationships, and so much more. But my takeaways from this week have been several.
- To be afraid is nothing to be ashamed of. We all feel fear, but the challenge is whether we let fear control us or we control it.
- Facing our fears instead of running from them or pretending they don’t exist is the best way to conquer them. Admitting that we are afraid and shining a light on those fears is the healthiest way to move beyond them.
- It’s not helpful to be paralyzed by events we have no control over, such as nuclear war — even most of our elected officials seem to have no control. We need to focus on fears we can do something about — and then do something about them.
- Share your fears with others, not as a way to raise their anxieties, but so they can give you support and help you in your efforts to conquer them.
Franklin D. Roosevelt once said that, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Perhaps it’s not the only thing, but fear is probably the greatest impediment to finding our way toward happiness. I’m inspired to let go of some of my own little by little in the days ahead. How about you?