No shame in being afraid

June 4, 2008 at 7:28 pm | Posted in Fear | 3 Comments
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“It is no accident that all of the world’s wisdom traditions address the fact of fear, for all of them originated in the human struggle to overcome this ancient enemy. And all these traditions, despite their great diversity, unite in one exhortation to those who walk in their ways: ‘Be not afraid.’

. . . [this phrase] ‘Be not afraid’ does not mean we cannot have fear. Everyone has fear . . . the words say we do not need to be the fear we have . . . ” (Let Your Life Speak, Parker Palmer, pp. 93-94)

Palmer’s right, we all have fear . . . and often it shows up around unfamiliar experiences or change of any kind — taking a new job, exploring a new relationship or giving up an old one, learning an unpleasant truth about ourselves, negotiating an unexpected turn in a conversation, making a major decision. The anger, confusion, and anxiety we can feel about any of these processes is real and can really scramble our perceptions.

It’s very important for us to give ourselves permission to be afraid while understanding that we don’t have to be the fear.

There’s no shame in being afraid. It doesn’t have to control and limit our thoughts and actions. We have a choice — we can elect to hold on to fear, often in silence, and let it gain growing power over us. Or we can opt to process the fear internally or face it with someone we trust and, hopefully, let it go.

If you’re challenged by a specific fear just now, I hope you’re giving yourself space to learn from it . . . and that you have an emotionally safe place to explore and release it.

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