When to listen to fear (and when not to)
If fear tells you not to step onto a pond that has just frozen over, it is a good idea to listen to fear.
But if fear tells you not to set foot outside your door in the winter because there may be frozen ponds out there, it’s best to overcome the voice of fear, put on your coat, and brave the brisk air.
Sometimes fear is just trying to help us. Sometimes it goes a little too far. If fear tells you to be careful picking up the shards of a beautiful glass that has just shattered on the floor, it’s a good idea to listen to Fear.
But if fear tells you to stop drinking from beautiful glasses because they might shatter and you might get cut, it’s best to raise the glass and make a toast to Life instead.
If fear tells you not to reach out and pat a dog that is baring its teeth and growling, it is a good idea to listen to fear.
But if fear tells you that every dog might bite your hand if you show it affection, it is best to relinquish your fear and reach out to express your love and receive adoration in return.
If fear tells you not to step out in front of a car in traffic, it’s a good thing to listen to fear.
But if fear tells you not to cross to the sunny side of the street because you never know if a car might be coming, it’s best to look both ways and stride into the sunlight with joy and purpose.
If fear tells you to stop running at the edge of a cliff, it’s a good thing to listen to fear.
But if fear tells you not to step to the edge in order to get a look at a broad new vista, perhaps you should put fear aside so you can take in the breathtaking view.
If fear tells you not to stick your hand heedlessly into a hive of stinging bees, it’s a good thing to listen to fear.
But if fear tells you that it is inherently unsafe to try to extract honey from a hive, it is best to learn the skills you need to taste the golden sweetness that life has to offer.
If fear tells you that you might stumble in the dark, perhaps you should listen and shine a light into the darkness in order to observe the obstacles that may be obscured from view.
But if fear tells you that no light is bright enough to vanquish darkness, perhaps you should shine the brightest light you have to prove it wrong.
If fear tells you that you are unique, that your life is valuable, and that it is best to proceed with awareness, thank fear for troubling itself on your account.
But if fear tells you that by listening to its incessant ramblings, you can save yourself from ever having to experience pain, loss, or suffering; let fear know that it must leave you be – and that it is creating more pain in your life than any sling or arrow ever could.
And if fear should ever say to you that courage is a fool’s game remind fear of this:
Fear and Courage are not enemies. They are partners. For no act of courage – large or small – has ever been accomplished without the presence of fear.