1.an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
“drivers are threatening to quit their jobs in fear after a cabby’s murder”
synonyms: terror, fright, fearfulness, horror, alarm, panic, agitation, trepidation,
There you have it. Fear.
When I think of fear, I can’t help but to think of The Replacements and the classic locker room scene where the coach asks them to admit their fears. Watch it here.
I have come to believe the reality of life is that we are held back in every aspect of lives by fear. Fear takes on many faces and comes in many forms, but the ultimate reality is that fear controls us all at some time or another. Fear traps us and keeps us from being able to move forward in life. Fear inhibits, prohibits and limits us from moving. It paralyzes. It overcomes and overwhelms. It conquers and leaves devastation in its wake.
Why? Why do we let fear immobilize us the way we do? Is fear really that powerful? Does fear really have that much control? Has fear been unlimited power, rendering us powerless to battle against it?
I think what gives fear its power is the unknown or the intangible nature of what it does to us. There are times when our fears are rooted in reality or in previous experience. But many times, fear is not rooted in anything other than our own fear of fear or a fear of the unknown or fear of an outcome based on insufficient or incomplete information. Let me explain. On Friday I took the youth from Grace Landing’s group home to a high ropes course. A couple of the obstacles we tackled you had to climb a ladder for about 15 feet, then climb a telephone pole for another 15 feet arriving at the obstacle approximately 30 feet in the air. One of the youth was barely able to make it off the ladder. He was afraid of falling. His fear in that moment was fear of an unknown, or more specifically fear based on insufficient or incomplete information. He was wearing a climbing harness which was secured around his waist. He was securely attached to a safety rope by locking carabiner. The safety rope was proper rigged and secured to an anchor point. There was a trained professional belaying this youth. There was literally no way for this youth to be injured while at the ropes course, yet his fears kept him from experiencing the ropes course to its fullest. His fear based on insufficient and incomplete information – if he fell, he would get hurt or die. His fears were never going to be realized at the ropes course.
This happens to us across the expanse of our lives. We face situations and determine our course of action based on what we think could possibly occur and if it is an outcome we don’t like, we are afraid. We begin to fear the outcome and then fear has crippled us from completing the task at hand. Fear based on a possibility. A possibility that is just as likely to not happen as it is to happen. Fear is at its essence being crippled by the possible. Even when experience supports our fear, there is no guarantee the fears will be realized this time around. For the person who gets married and their spouse breaks their heart and leaves them, just because this was their experience it does mean they should withhold from engaging in authentic relationships with other for fear of being hurt again. They may be hurt again, but they may also find a rewarding relationship in which they are surrounded by the love they deserve.
Fear, in reality, only has as much power as we give it. Fear is only as strong as we allow it to be. Fear can only overcome and cripple us because we allow it to do so.
My hope today is identify fear as a force working against us, only having the power we give it. Tomorrow, I want to identify how to limit the power we give to fear.
How has fear limited or crippled you?