Over the course of the last few months, my younger son has developed a fear of everything. And I mean everything. The problem is that I have no idea how to help him because it’s all in his head.
It’s been difficult, but we’ve done our best to keep our kids shielded from many of the overly intense or scary movies, cartoons, or video games that pass for kids’ entertainment these days. So when he says he’s afraid of something, it seems so made up that it just gets frustrating.
A scary noise in his room. A weird drawing that he saw at school. Thinking that his head will fall off because he has a patch of dry skin. The stated reasons for his fear are as endless as they are pathetic. But we are in a cycle now. He refuses to fall asleep at night, just laying there with his eyes open conjuring up images of skeletons and other things he read about in Diary of a Wimpy Kid. He comes into our room multiple times each night with some sob story.
My wife and I have not gotten a sound sleep in weeks. In fact, I’m writing this blog post at 3:30am on my couch, acting as a protective shield between my kids’ room and our room so that my wife can get some much needed sleep. Maybe I’ll catch a nap later since I work from home, but my poor wife needs to be on her game to deal with pre-schoolers and their parents bright and early this morning.
My biggest problem with his fears is that he refuses to be consoled. It would be one thing if he was scared and then came to us to be comforted and then felt better. But instead he simply rehashes the same thing over and over again. We try to alleviate his fear and comfort him, but before we even put our heads back on our pillows he’s in our room again.
Which brings me to the main point of this post. I HATE FEAR. More accurately, I hate what fear does to people. It makes us irrational. (almost as irrational as lack of sleep). Fear is a cycle that allows us to stay stuck in our wrong frame of mind. It’s an emotional state that cripples us from making right choices. When we are afraid, that is the only thing we can think about it. And we can’t imagine that we will ever be able to overcome our fears.
So many people know what they want out of life but fear keeps them from pursuing it. Fear of other people’s opinions, fear of failure, fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of missing out, fear of being let down. The list of phobias that people exhibit is staggering and I’m sure there are new items being added to it daily. I wonder what you would call “The Fear of Your Head Falling Off Due to the Patch of Dry Skin on Your Neck.” If it has a name, let me know.
As humans, we often live in a perpetual state of fear. Unfortunately, we allow this fear to cripple us rather than motivate us. Like my son, we’d rather live in fear and share our fears with others than fight our way out of fear. In my opinion, people should use fear as a catalyst rather than a crutch.
What are you afraid of?
What are you refusing to do because fear is keeping you from doing it?
Fear in and of itself is not a bad thing. Many times fear tells us that what we want to do is worth it. It should motivate us to take action. It is how we respond to fear that ultimately defines us.
Oftentimes our inaction is the epitome of selfishness, because when we allow our fear to cripple us, we are admitting to the world that our feelings are more important than the impact we could have if we would only push beyond our fragile emotional state. If we all knew our true capacity to make a difference in the lives of those around us, then we would not be afraid of any outside force impeding us. We would merely ACT.
Imagine if everyone in this world who truly wanted to make a difference stopped being afraid. What would change?
Instead we use fear to stay in our protective bubbles, detached from any greater purpose, isolating ourselves from the world because in our minds there is too much at stake if really put ourselves out there.
But what if instead of being afraid of pursuing our dreams, we redefined our fear. That is what I’ve chosen to do. The fear that motivates me is the fear of getting to the end of my life having not accomplished what I was put on this earth to do. That scary thought certainly keeps me from being stagnant and sedentary on my journey. It motivates me to try hard things. To exhaust every avenue and use every tool at my disposal in order to accomplish my goal.
I’m still afraid because I don’t know the end of the story, but I am more fearful that I will allow fear itself to paralyze me. I have to remind myself daily that my momentary fear is no match for the enormous amount of regret I will experience if I refuse to try. The greater the risk, the greater the reward.
The most essential thing you need to do today is overcome the very thing that is keeping you from doing what you were born to do.