What If You Weren’t Afraid?

Fear dictates a lot of what we do, say, and don’t. Over the years, my husband and I have peeled back the face of harsh words, avoidance, and everything in between to lay bare this tyrant in the heart. The things I want from him will often lead back to my fear of finding myself out in the cold with hat in hand. In those moments I’m the little girl her parents let down, even while I now understand that they had done their best. Holistic Husband will hesitate to share with me what he really thinks, afraid of rejection. I am short with my boy for shedding clothes outside because I am afraid he will get sick. Not a 100 pounds, I could not relate to anyone with eating disorders. Until a few years ago when I showed myself I could overeat. I knew better. I was the health and nutrition consultant among moms, with over a decade of study under her belt. The worst thing you can do with your food is do too much of it. I realized something wild. Though my husband spared no expensive to meet our needs, the compulsive eating started from fear of going hungry.

There are many things we hold back from trying, scared to fail. We worry about what others will think and end up spouting dumb words or holding back when we should speak up. The wind of peer pressure blows on our kids everyday, right through the morning window when they decide what to wear before pushing them toward and away from other kids.

How would these things look different in your life, if you were not afraid?

Your relationship with your sweetheart
How you parent
The people you tend to befriend
The relational boundaries you draw
How passive or aggressive you are in conflict
How often you say no
How and why you study
What you would say in a job interview
Where you work
How you work, the hours you put in
Your relationship with your self, in exercise or ways you nurture your body and spirit
Your eating
Your career
Your blogging
Your art
Your dance
How and what you write
What you buy
The goals you set
Add your own.

Feel free to think before getting back to me.

182 thoughts on “What If You Weren’t Afraid?

  1. ” . . . scared to fail. We worry about what others will think . . . ”
    This really hits home. I am 79. Being scared of failing and what others may think of me, these things often haunted me through out my life. To overcome fear in this regard can be a good thing. When I was much younger this kind of fear was probably more pronounced in me. Maybe old age taught me a thing or two that really quite often there is no reason to be fearful, none at all.
    Sometimes I think old age has quite a few advantages for me! πŸ™‚

  2. I totally get you; after leaving the military where I was detached to an isolated station; little interaction with outside I had to depend on the little frack store on the corner to get a few snacks, beef jerky and whisky and harveys. Dude I swore before heaven and earth that if I could afford it I would stuff myself until I was full and never starve again. Another thing was the eggs; eggs every single day: fried, boiled, scrambled; Jesus, I had all the eggs I could take at that point and swore again.

    Happily I have been delivered from drinking and my aversion to eggs. W
    πŸ™‚

  3. “my fear of finding myself out in the cold with hat in hand” – being deserted. Then comes rejection and the fear of.

    I read somewhere that being deserted is inevitable (as our parents cannot respond every second to every need we have as bablies – at some point we need and no one comes). Then we learn “no” and “later” and that a lot of the time later never comes. Your whole list and any other item can be affected.

    Something I have finally learned after a number of (okay and not okay) decades: Real Love is without expectation, nor demand. Real love does not expect to be “affirmed” not patted on the head. Nor does it demand that affirming or patting others on the head is necessary. Yet real love holds (whoever) as really important, to be nurtured, to be treated really gently. And real love holds that true of me as well. The consequence when i finally “get it” being freedom of fear in every area of life, living and relationship. And (perversely!) finding that affiirmation, pats on the head, and acceptance not rejection – it all comes tumbling in and out. To me and others. Which I find totally weird! (you touched something deep down inside with your question)

  4. Fear has driven too many years of my life and it poisoned so many things around me. I made a choice to face that fear and while there are still nights I tremble in my soul I would not go back to the safety of nothingness – not in this life or the next. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. Jen

  5. I am the kind of person who tries to look beyond the faΓ§ades that people can build up (due to fear yes!), and I try to honestly tear down mine as well. When the going gets hard, I question myself and if not successful at removing the fear, I acknowledge myself honestly the reason why I built a wall in the first place. There are many people I see who do not acknowledge their fears, and instead believe the half-truths that they have build up in their minds. The list that you have given at the bottom of the post, it was very interesting because I did note that amongst other things, fear is an interesting reason perhaps that prevents my blog and my art projects to be as honest as it should get! Thanks for the post, it’s always good to be able to think about it, and be aware at least of the fear that can touch so many points in our lives! πŸ™‚

    • “acknowledge myself honestly the reason why I built a wall in the first place. ”

      Good for you. I love your self-awareness. And am so glad to hear you’re now thinking about your (lovely) art and blogging.

      Xxx
      Diana

  6. “I’m the little girl her parents let down.” That hit home for me because when I am overwhelmed by fear, I auto pilot back to that little girl as if doing so is going to answer the million dollar question. That is when I have to be intentional and handle my fears like an adult without the childlike mentality.

    • YUP! I recognize it and doing that is half the battle, if not more. Otherwise we’re flailing in the dark, unable to name the enemy, which is ourself – not our spouse or whoever. And I am DEFinitely about not coddling the “inner child” (gee!) but about growing up, not just getting older.

  7. I am showing fear something this afternoon and taking the leap of faith to do something better for me for a change:) Great Post -thanks so much for sharing! Wishing Everyone Out There the BEST to Go For It and Do What You WANT:) Happy Day!

    • The kind of fear that motivates us to our better self did cross my mind, Heather. But even that is worth looking at. Why does it have to be fear that does that? Short of wise fear of crossing highways and speeding cars.

      • Fear is a big thing in my life, something that I experienced at a very young age. I guess I have used those experiences, in part, to better myself in the present. I know through personal experience what it feels like to be scared, rejected, not good enough and the fear of repeating these things helps to keep my mind focused on the job at hand. At times, that feeling of feat gets out of control and ends up making me feel helpless and hopeless and that is when I think a natural fear or anxiety about something becomes unhealthy.

      • Wow, thanks for sharing that, Heather. “what it feels like to be scared, rejected, not good enough and the fear of repeating these things helps to keep my mind focused on the job at hand.” The question is to imagine the opposite motivating you to walk the line, even to swing and dance on it. What is the opposite of fear in this case?

  8. Nice to see you back on your own blog! Perfect topic for me. I was alluding to fear in my poem, moving into more acceptance and trust that things will work out with work and life. As much as I don’t like fear and how much I have held back from life due to fear, I am suspect that it serves to show us where we can bring more love and acceptance. I’m referring to mental fear as opposed to life threatening fear which naturally propels us to act!

    • “held back from life due to fear” Very well put, Brad. And yes, that is the kind of fear I was speaking of. Well, for one thing, it inspired your lovely poem. And as difficult as it is, this season has prompted you to draw deeply of the reservoire of hope and acceptance to help you assess what it is you can and cannot control.

      I have kept up my schedule of weekly posts here. =) It’s been mostly old posts I pulled outa the drawer for OM’s blog. I appreciate the support you’ve shown there.

  9. Another case of the universe delivering EXACTLY what I needed. These two things are HUGE for me, right now. If I lost my fear, truly rejected it, I would love myself more!

    The people you tend to befriend
    The relational boundaries you draw

  10. Hmm…I fear so many things..fear of losing my loved ones, seeing them in pain, losing my job, not being fit enough someday…but the idea is to strike a balance between those fears and the realisation that I cannot stop living because of those fears…So, even though I am afraid, I keep striking out and pushing the boundaries..but yes, had those fears not been there, I would have taken many more risks, which I am cautious about today!

  11. I am in the safety of not feeling. Therapy is taking away that safety and causing fear. Without fear I would feel feelings and be able to process and deal with them . But I am as of yet too afraid. This article and the comments that have followed are quite impactful to me at the moment. Thank you

    • What a perspective. From the other side. Wow, yes it is easier to feel nothing at all. Rooting for you in the journey. Would love you to keep me posted, whatever you would share down the line.
      Thanks so much for sharing.

  12. Hello Diana

    I do love that challenge, what would you do if you weren’t afraid? Keep forgetting it, but I love it. Which reminds me that small daily acts of bravery can lead to bigger changes.
    Thanks for the great post. πŸ™‚

  13. Marriage is a contract between two individuals who are quite different in personality, preferences and view of life. The idea of an ideal marriage where husband and wife think the same like two clones of the ideal person is a myth. There will be differences and those differences will sometimes hurt, but if each partner is wise enough to swallow the occasional barbs and look for the things in their partner they can learn from, then marriage can be a fulfilling experience. Human beings are imperfect creatures. I must realize I’m not perfect and so not expect perfection in my partner. Yes women are often too outspoken about what troubles them and yes men too often too deep and silent to reveal their inner thoughts. Why not see each partner as an interesting person because of that and not imagine slights from communications given or withheld? It took me a long time to realize just how fortunate one is to be in a marriage relationship and I’m still working on making changes myself to make the relationship more meaningful.

  14. I have been thinking that greed was the root of most, if not all, evil. But you have raised the possibility that fear is the root of greed. That is certainly worth exploring. Thanks again for the mental stimulation you always supply.

  15. Thanks for the great post. I particularly liked your thought-provoking questions.

    Of course it’s difficult to rank the things that damage ourselves and others — but if we could, I think fear might win. It drives so much counter-productive behavior. What makes me most “afraid” is I don’t always realize I’m operating out of fear. I sometimes walk away from a situation and realize I just said or did that out of “fear”. Maybe that’s the beginning of self-knowledge and progress.

    • Yes, as I said in reply to a number of the comments. The awareness and acknowledgmt is much of the battle….won. =) So many remain in the dark, and want to stay there. That spells no hope to me.

      Thank you for the kind input. You’ve been wonderful.

  16. Refreshing to read someone else in the world digs in like this, and you are doing it openly, prodding us to do the same. I love this bravery.

    You inspired a quick post for me today, pingback!

    • Not seeing the post. Waiting for the PiNG. Thanks. Appreciate the encouragement and so glad when readers are inspired to go light their own fire. That’s what it’s about for me. =)

      If you don’t hear from me tmrw, shoot me the link.

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  18. I have reached a point in my life where the question what’s the worst that can happen is used often. I love the examples you’ve cited for review of fearless application. Such smart questions, and really great ideas for honest reflection. Loved this post.

  19. Great post.

    Another thought that I often turn over in my head these days: How do you recognize fear? I’m not talking about the fear that ties your stomach in knots, but the fear that very quietly nudges you in a certain direction. The brain is very adept at fooling us into certain actions (or inactions) by trickery; It’s a basic function of our instinctual selves. If you could really hold your fear under a microscope, would you find that it defines you as a personality? At what point can we really say that it’s preference, without fear, that causes us to lead the lives we do?

    • I’ve been pondering your ques, Lisa. Hard one you pose. Might shed some light to ask how the possible “preference” would look, feel like if it were love (for the art, the person,etc) that motivated you.

  20. I’ve never liked doing things I don’t do well, D, which is definitely a fear of failure. Have I lost out because of it? Of course. The other side of the coin is that there are so many things that I love to do. And never enough time to do them. I am always curious about what makes me tick, however, and why I make the decisions I do. I am reading an interesting book now by Jennifer Ouellette titled “Me, Myself,and Why.” It explores both the genetic and environmental factors that go into determining who we are. You might enjoy it. Jennifer is a top science writer with a great sense of humor. –Curt

  21. Look at all your responses…how awesome, I’m jealous and afraid (just kidding πŸ™‚

    I get what you meant in your response to my post “Choices, A Bit About Me and Thank you” when you said we are on the same wavelength. My writing, which for now is my work, is still, frustratingly, driven by a need to please, but the one thing I can feel changing and which I addressed in that post is the aspect of fear related to my writing. A year ago, I never would have entered contests and found it so easy to face rejection. Now, I see rejection as good feedback and the direction I needed to know where to go next with my book. Actually, I prayed for this very thing to happen…not the rejection, obviously, but for some direction, and I got it, just not in the way I was expecting, which is the best way really. And now, after that rejection/direction, I am content to be back at work on it, feeling good about my progress and hopeful for the book’s future.

    I guess if I could apply this approach to all areas of my life, especially parenting, I would be a much more relaxed person, and a better parent. I worry my children won’t fee comfortable coming to me because there’s this wall between us, which I erected out of fear of them really knowing me, faults and all. I need to destroy that wall, but don’t know how. I guess I’ll pray about it, and trust it will come down, probably the way I least expect it!

    I hope this response didn’t come across as too religious.

    Thanks for this post. It is thought-provoking, as always.

    Best regards,
    Elizabeth

    • Ha ha. Good to hear a joke out of you, Elizabeth. A reader who was inspired to write a (great) post from this one confessed today her envy of the comments here, bless her heart. My readers have done me the honors.

      I love following your journey and am cheerleading every bit of progress. That is wonderful that you can take the critique and rejection to use them for stepping stones. Your writing is lovely and clear. I’ve no doubt that after the refining your book will turn out great.

      Too religious? How about I will be praying for that wall to come down? And I realized you probably didn’t catch this:

      https://holisticwayfarer.com/2013/11/18/a-biblical-perspective-of-achievement/

  22. I think this is so important- that we can hold ourselves from what we want the most out of fear and not even realize it- fear of being loved, fear of getting what we want, fear of intimacy, fear of our own power, fear of being seen- when really, all of this is what we desire. Great way to activate your readers.

  23. Great post Diana, Thanks a lot for sharing! I deal with fear constantly by facing it and I guess I’m lucky ’cause I survive each time, even when sometimes it didn`t work out. I think my biggest victory is each time I discover after facing my fears that they weren’t even a big deal as I thought they would be. It’s difficult to recognize whether fear is clearly present or not, but that’s why we should dare to face it, overcome and the chance to gain something positive out of it increases: We become stronger. I think the biggest fears I ever overcame were moving from a small island in the Caribbean to Europe and my divorce. But the biggest ever is lurking in the corner: My son turning 18! So.. I have no idea if my answer would be the same over a year. Have a wonderful Sunday!

    • What a journey! Yah, I would be fearful with such a move and divorce — and my boy turning 18 WWAAAAhhh.

      “sometimes it didn`t work out. I think my biggest victory is each time I discover after facing my fears that they weren’t even a big deal as I thought they would be.”

      Really like this. You remind me we are most afraid of being afraid. I would’ve put that in the post.

      Bravo to a beautiful, courageous soul.
      Thanks for enlightening us.

      Diana

  24. When I’m afraid, I try to use the fear to make good choices based on the premise that it is best to control what we can and let go of the rest; doing my best to stay healthy, buying insurance I can afford, learning new skills to stay employed, etc. I still worry about my health, loss and jobs, but it helps me work through any remorse when things don’t work out; at least I can say I did everything I could.

  25. I wish I had followed my passion in life.
    I wish I’d taken more risks.
    I wish I hadn’t worried so much.
    Just three things that the elderly say they regret the most in their old age (http://thechive.com/2013/10/30/the-things-people-say-they-regret-the-most-in-their-old-age-20-photos/). They all have to do with fear. The fear of pursuing one’s dream. The fear of failing. The fear of ….
    I believe we can learn a lot from the elderly. They make up the majority of the wise ones here on Earth.
    =)

  26. A fear of the end. The end of anything, big or small, things real or ideas or symbols, relationships, or source of pleasure, bank accounts; I think the end is a big fear, or at least it is one of mine. But I think most fears are not realistic and we forget that. Faulkners characters always bring those fears into my conscious mind. No matter how big or petty, fears feel real even if they may not seem it to other people, but that’s just it. Fear is a symbol which is unique to human nature beside immediate life threatening situations in which many animals go fight-or-flight in response. We create fear in our sub-conscious, when we awaken from a nightmare or drink too much coffee and flip over some small thing but we can also be afraid of losing our homes and do something about it. Fear, like most other things in our lives (as I see it), are balanced between the polarity of becoming utterly paranoid and supremely jaded.

    • Fascinating, Z. The part about fear being a human symbol apart from the physiological wisdom of survival. We do create much of it.

      You’re the first here to bring up mortality. Of ourselves of all the things we treasure. Ecclesiastes says God has put eternity in our hearts. One of the most beautiful truths I’ve read. We were meant for and to long for the song that doesn’t end.

      You just reminded me of this:

      https://holisticwayfarer.com/2013/11/11/a-new-song/

      You fit in perfectly among us. Thank you so much for enriching this discussion and for following. Welcome to AHJ.

      Diana

  27. I have often felt fear, the fear of falling, drowning, dying, being hurt, killed, lost or alone. I have learned to accept fear as a force in my life that is never completely absent but one that can also be successfully managed and controlled. In short It’s OK to be afraid, we just have to learn to manage the emotion.

  28. Thanks for such a wonderful post. I think we are drawn to people who face fear, feel the fear and make it part of their lives. They seem to be happy and in a ‘zone’ that we can only imagine. Maybe we need to see fear as a challenge and accept it on a daily basis. We can create and promote something new and different — “Imagine and Embrace Fear!”

    • “see fear as a challenge and accept…” and DAILY. Hmm. You hit upon the importance of accepting what we must. You’re almost speaking of something like riding the tide instead of fighting it. Interesting, MK. Food for thought. Thanks so much.

      =)

      HW

  29. My worst fear was getting what I wanted. I looked forward to the grass was greener on the other side of the fence. I looked forward to retirement. When I got it I found that it was boring. I did puzzles, watched television and spent a lot of time talking to my wife about unimportant stuff. I needed a filler. I went back to work part time, I wrote and blogged and I volunteered. Empty time is just that empty. I love my wife but twenty five seven is to long to talk about politics or the machinery in the house that needs fixing and shopping. Fear is what you make of it. I fear the eternity of ennui.

    • This is amazing, your opening and closing lines compelling. You wrote me a beautiful, thought-provoking post people will relate to. Why don’t you put it up as a post on your page? =) I’ve encouraged others to do that when they’ve left such rich comments.

      You remind me of this, if you didn’t catch my guest post. Your thoughts are implied here. About those who’re hungry for the next step on the ladder.

      http://aopinionatedman.com/2014/02/24/well-what-if-youre-not-good-enough/

      Thank you so much for your contribution and time on my blog. You’ve been a valued reader.

      Diana

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  33. Great article HW. Very insightful, intuitive, and ironically true. The most important part I felt was when you mentioned how fear makes us worry what others shall think and also prevents us from speaking up, sometimes when it’s most necessary. This leads to many wrong things being accepted and many right things being obstructed. Fear could also inhibit our daily decisions even in the most routine scenarios, such as our diet, our goals, or even our minor choices, though I feel this type of fear is not common among everybody. Anyways, brilliant article HW.

    • I really appreciate the thoughtful feedback, Russel.

      “Fear could also inhibit our daily decisions even in the most routine scenarios, such as our diet, our goals, or even our minor choices, though I feel this type of fear is not common among everybody.”

      Actually, I brought these things to light bc our mundane choices are affected more than we realize. So happy to know the parts that spoke to you. Thanks for the support. I’m glad you’re getting things out of your visit.

  34. Thanks for this insightful article. As a survivor of child endangerment and extreme neglect, I’ve had more than a room full of fears to overcome. I’m grateful for “perfect love” which “casts out fear”–all kinds of fear in all of its variations. The fear that I’m working on now is fear of not accomplishing all that God has placed in my heart to accomplish.

    • Thank you for the glimpse of the ordeals you’ve had to hurdle, Pamela. As to the present fear, He ENABLES that which He commissions. He didn’t choose Moses as spokesman and leader for his eloquence. No, He deigned to show forth His power through one who stuttered.

      • “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Cor.

        P, the gospel IS that we fall short. THAT is the good news we are told to sink into, not resist or fear any longer. THAT is why HE is so great. Christ has been sufficient for us.

  35. This is a beautiful post and very insightful. I started my blogging journey just a week and a half ago but this is the first post (albeit I am slightly hormonal at the moment) that has made me cry…the way I parent is definitely governed by fear..I see it every day…my eldest was in hospital over three years ago (when she was six weeks old) – she was fine, she just had a virus, but they thought for a period that she had meningitis – a few months ago I realised that I had never gotten over that episode and that I live in (luckily not quite constant) fear of losing my children. I hope that now that I have at least recognised it, I stand a chance of trying to do something about it.

    • Hi Lydia, oh thanks for sharing this with me. As a nazi of a parent, I understand. I have come to helicopter less over my son but I see the fears that run under the decisions I make, the things I have him do (eat right, bundle up, etc). And it was 95 degrees in CA yesterday! LOL.

      My husband discovered something profound in his interaction with me and about me. Rather than get exasperated at the things I ask him of him (make sure Little Man is so and so, warm enough, etc) when they two go out, hubby realized I will relax when he can ASSURE me he will do his best and our son will be okay. It was huge for him to recognize the fear in me and lovingly speak to it. At the same time, I need to grow on my end, not hold me or my family prisoner to the fear. I don’t want to end up suffocating my son. A few friends have made some cracks that my son will end up taking his shirt off, kissing his home goodbye, and go bungee jumping or something when he’s old enough LOL. Nah…I’m confident I haven’t screwed him up. Ha ha ha.

      YES, there’s hope. Fear will ruin lives, ours and our loved ones’. Don’t let the past dictate this day.

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