“Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.”― C. JoyBell C.
A conversation with a student of mine this week got me thinking. She had serendipitously come across a number of references to St. Joan of Arc in the past week. Each one spoke to her. I asked her why. Because, she said, Joan was strong, but also a woman.
Of course I liked that too. In fact, the martyr’s example inspired me to think more on it; to muse over how she had achieved that balance between fearless and feminine. After reading a bit more about more about her, I decided to dig through my own emotional archives…
You know, it took a few decades, but I finally figured out that whenever I was feeling despondent, disordered, or ornery, what I was really feeling, beneath it all, at the bottom of the muck, was SCARED. Something was frightening me.
Just like the child-me (who raced from a shadowy pursuer every time I came up the basement stairs), the grown-up-me periodically, if not frequently, lets my fears take on a life of their own: a full-blown imaginary life. I say imaginary, because rarely, and I mean hardly ever, did any sinister-outcome actually come out!
That’s right. My fears, for all the mental energy and emotional exertion I put into them, generally don’t materialize.
In other words, fear does not equal reality. Not by a long shot.
It’s not even a reliable omen or predictor.
It is, however, a very dependable wake-up call.
When I find fear in my system, I know, sure as anything, that there is something, inside or out―a challenge, usually relational in nature―that needs to be addressed. Head-on.
And there’s the conundrum.
I’m afraid to.
Face it, I mean.
So what’s a shrinking violet, a cowering cactus, a sniveling sagebrush of a girl supposed to do?
I know what my author/coach friend, Emma J. Bell, would say:
MAKE A CHOICE.
She recently published this profound bit of wisdom on her blog:
“There are only two directions in life: towards love or towards fear. That’s worth remembering when we have to make decisions that will have a significant impact on our life. In order to consciously focus on what is truly important; it can be helpful to keep in mind the two directions of fear and love and to test every decision against that spectrum.
A seesaw will remain steady when weights of an equal measure are placed on either side, and the fulcrum is set right at the center. Move the fulcrum, and a heavier weight will need to be placed at the shorter end of the plank to keep the seesaw balanced. If we were to view one end of the seesaw as what we love, and the other as what we fear, then placing all our focus (the weight) on what we fear means that we have to locate our energy (the fulcrum) on holding up those fears. The same principle applies to focusing our energy on what we love—what is truly important to us. We make hundreds of decisions every day—some large, many small.
Developing the habit of asking yourself, in respect of both large and small decisions, “Will saying yes to this take me in the direction of what I love, or is it simply a reaction to what I fear?” will keep your focus on what is truly important to you. A life well lived is made up of a series of decisions like this. If we weigh up a decision focusing on the love/fear spectrum, then we are more likely to consciously move in the direction of a life we love.”
Fear is not going away for me completely. It’s a part of life, integral to my humanity. But so is love. And the way Emma simplifies their opposition to each other, makes it a much easier choice.
I’ll choose love, every time.
My fears, I know now, are, in reality, opportunities to stretch my heart. When I choose to replace fear with love, the capacity to value myself and others unconditionally increases, which means that…
The most loving people in the world are the most courageous people in the world.
And if that doesn’t describe the relationship between fearless and feminine, I don’t know what does.
For more on the interplay between fear and love, especially as it relates to your relationship with the man in your life, you’ll want my video lessons (free) on Understanding Men, including his male fears, HERE. And read Wife for Life: The Power to Succeed in Marriage, Chapter 7: “What Are We Afraid of?” and Chapter 8: “What Are Husbands Afraid of?” In addition, Emma J. Bell’s book, The True You, is a Wife for Life must-read.