In Others’ Words: Are You Scared?

Fear defeats more people. Emerson. 2014

Fear likes to tell us no.

No, you can’t (fill in the blank). 

No, you can’t learn to dance — you’re not coordinated enough.

No, you can’t sing well enough to try out for school chorus.

No, you can’t try out for that sports team. What makes you think you’re good enough to compete with those other kids?

No, you can’t apply for that mission trip because what if something awful happens and you get sick or even die over there in that foreign country?

No, you can’t pursue your dream job … who are you kidding? You’re not the most qualified person for the position.

No and no and no and no and no and no.

If fear has its way — and it does, let’s just admit it — we’ll live such limited lives, hemmed in all around by Nos.

I remember the first time I was invited to join a fiction writing group — me and my no-one-else-has-read-a-word-of-this work in progress (WIP). I showed up with my requested first five pages and sat on the couch while an award-winning, best-selling, multi-published author read my first attempt at fiction out loud. Truth be told, I sat near the arm of the couch, hoping no one could see me shake.

I was s-c-a-r-e-d.

The fact that I’m writing this blog post today proves I survived that experience. Fear was saying, “No, you can’t go to that group! What are you thinking? You’ll waste their time.” But there wasn’t a “no” waiting for me, even though I had a lot to learn about novel writing. I was welcomed into the group — imperfect, scared me.

In Your Words: When has fear tried to tell you “No” and hold you back? How have you pushed back and defeated fear?

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  1. September 17, 2014, 12:29 am   /  Reply

    I guess I became inured to ‘routine’ fear when I realized that there really are monsters out there, roaming the night. Coming face to face with them – and dealing with them prejudicially – didn’t reduce my fear of them one bit, for to have fallen under their ‘mercy’ would be in the ‘worst nightmare’ category. Witness recent events.

    But I found that I no longer worried about things that had kept me tongue-tied with anxiety. Like public speaking – now I love it, but on the earlier side of that rather lethal game of tag…it gave me the shakes.

    Today there’s no fear that holds me back, but there is a downside…that every task that might have once meant overcoming fear has become something to accomplish en route to something else. That frisson of dread and its accompanying inebriation of delight at success are gone from my life, and I think I’m the poorer.

    • September 17, 2014, 2:55 pm   /  Reply

      “That frisson of dread and its accompanying inebriation of delight at success are gone from my life, and I think I’m the poorer.”

      Hmmm …interesting perspective, Andrew.

      • September 17, 2014, 5:15 pm   /  Reply

        It’s an interesting place to be. There are risks that carry attendant potential costs, which may be quite severe…but I don’t really ‘feel’ anything about them.

        They’re just there, and as far as possible I lay out fallback options to avoid the worst. When that’s impossible, the high potential downside is just part of the game.

        Same with success. It’s nice, but it generally comes as a predictable positive outcome to a series of actions and/or events. I may joke about doing a Snoopy Dance, but I never do one.

        Barbara says it’s REALLY like living with Spock, and that there are aspects which are decidedly uncool.

        Logic dictates agreement with that perspective.

  2. September 17, 2014, 8:37 am   /  Reply

    I’ve said this before…I don’t think there’s anything I’m not afraid to tackle if I want to do it. There are some things I just don’t want to do–like jump out of an airplane or bungee jump. I’m not sure why fear isn’t part of my makeup. I do have a healthy respect (or fear) of snakes and tornadoes, and when I get up to speak in front of others I just want to get that first gaffe out of the way because I know it’s coming. but not much else scares me.

    • September 17, 2014, 2:56 pm   /  Reply

      It’s also interesting how the view of something changes if we substitute the word “respect” for the word “fear.”

  3. September 17, 2014, 9:24 am   /  Reply

    I’m so glad you beautifully moved past that initial fear to very positive and influential success. Keep it up w/ much more to come.
    When I’m afraid I remember that the swaying cobra’s tactic is to hypnotize/terrorize its victims until it gets close enough to strike, so I refuse to be hypnotized and w/ God’s help work past whatever the terror is, or tries to tell me it is.
    Thanks, Beth.

    • September 17, 2014, 2:56 pm   /  Reply

      Great visual, Dee!
      Well … you know what I mean!

  4. September 17, 2014, 10:19 am   /  Reply

    Oh my yes, fear has told me no. It told me I couldn’t sing, much less do a solo. Yet, the desire to try eventually overcame. I’m no Whitney Houston, but I have a decent voice, and it’s fun to sing with others.

    Fear told me I could never write a book—I’m just not that creative. Yet, MANY years later, here I am, completing my third. I’m learning the best way to work through fear is to not listen to it. At least not for very long. I don’t always recognize it for what it is in the beginning. But, I see that I need to just do that which has been scary to me. And as Andrew mentioned, that thrill of excitement after attempting and succeeding? It’s enough to make me do it again. And again.

    • September 17, 2014, 2:57 pm   /  Reply

      Yes, yes … I loved how Andrew said that too, Jeanne!

  5. Susan
    September 17, 2014, 12:50 pm   /  Reply

    Fear tells me all the time that I’m not a writer. Not a good mom. Not a great friend. I’ve had to learn to listen to that voice that tells me not to try at these things because I’ll embarrass myself, fail, fall short of expectations. But all I would have missed had I listened to that voice rather than God’s!

  6. October 14, 2014, 6:06 am   /  Reply

    […] As my third story marinates for a bit, I’ve discovered a hesitancy to take it through the process to completion. I suspect I’m nurturing a fear of rejection. […]

  7. January 12, 2015, 10:05 pm   /  Reply

    […] He cares enough about something measuring less than a quarter-inch long to craft it uniquely. Imagine how much more He cares about us, whom He created in His own image? When we face trials, He walks through them with us. He strengthens us to live well. […]

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