As humans, there are certain emotions and feelings that are universal to our life experiences. For most, the feelings of joy, love, sadness, and fear prove to be the most prominent within our daily lives, and are what shapes our perspectives and interpretations of the world. But while joy and love are usually experienced positively, sadness and fear tend to be experienced negatively. Whether it’s from a fear of failure or a fear of the unknown, we all collectively relate these experiences with worry and trepidation. But what if there was another way we could approach the feeling of fear? What if it didn’t always have to correlate with negativity?
Truthfully, if you’d asked me these questions two years ago, it’s likely I wouldn’t have a good answer. I’d probably say, “Fear? You mean that thing that makes my throat close up and my eyes go blurry and my heart beat a million miles a minute? That fear?” My perception of this emotion was only based on my experiences with allowing it to hinder me. And now, two years later, there’s still no shortage of fear making me nervous or making my heart beat uncontrollably fast. But there is also what I’ve learned through not allowing fear to hinder me, but to guide me instead. I learned that fear can be positive, and that at its core, fear is nine times out of ten just trying to teach us something. So here’s what I’ve learned about fear and how I positively changed my mindset toward it; I hope it helps you do the same.
Fear Is Your Greatest Protector
From a biological standpoint, when we come across something or someone that sparks fear within us, our flight or fight response is set off in the brain. Like when you enter a haunted house during the Halloween season, although the fear we feel is manufactured, the experience of a scare actor jumping at you never fails to set off that flight or fight response. It’s preparing you to either flee the scene or fight it, and this biological process is an important way fear works to protect us. Instead of focusing entirely on the way fear makes you feel, try focusing more on the fact that it’s just actively trying to keep you safe.
Fear Is Always Honest With You
There’s truly never been a more brutally honest presence in my life than fear. Many times, I’ve found that situations I’m most fearful of are the situations I need to be in the most. I remember the exact moment I put my name on the list to run for the class secretary position in high school. Knowing I’d have to do a speech in front of the entire eleventh grade, I was deathly scared of all that could go wrong and all the outcomes I couldn’t prepare for. But I knew I just had to do it, no matter how much fear I felt. And feeling that fear meant I cared and actually wanted the position I was going for. So in life situations where you feel fear, lean into it and listen to it. Let the honesty of fear be your compass.
Fear Can Be Your Friend
Within life and even in literature I’ve read working in the library, fear shows up everywhere. It plays a prominent role in books like Wonder by R.J. Palacio, The Giver by Lois Lowry, and Divergent by Veronica Roth. It intensifies movies like the Life of Pi (2012) and The Wizard of Oz (1939). In life, fear can be uncomfortable. It can be scary and daunting and challenging. But it can also provide you with growth and learning and power. It can also be your friend, if you let it.
For further information on how you can check out the books and movies mentioned in this article, visit myhlc.org to access your account or our library catalog. Give a follow to the Highlands County Board of County Commissioners Facebook page for more info as well.