Developing A Relationship with Fear
By Dr. Claudia Rose

 

 

Is fear your friend? What is your relationship with fear? Mortal enemies? Complete strangers? If youíre anything like me, fear is your companion. Fear stood by my side on the Embassy stage when I flexed my muscles as the First California Bodybuilding Champion. Fear fluttered through my veins when I answered questions for the live radio audience in Dallas, Texas. Fear sat with me as I led a therapy group for perpetrators of incest.

Fear is behind every door to the unknown. It pounds and moans and scares you half to death. Yet if you grab the handle and open the door, you stand face-to-face with something that is not so scary after all.

And no ó fear never does disappear. Like change, it is the one constant you can count on. It will be your companion all the way. It can be an enemy freezing you in your tracks, a nagging whisper in your ear, or just the sign that youíve entered the unknown.

I remember the afternoon two Los Angeles policemen brought a girl to our foster care agency. She was nine years old and awakened to find her father and a friend murdered in the living room. She didnít speak when I asked her name. She foamed at the mouth. Her eyes darted around the office without resting on one object for long.

Though I remember the little girl, I donít remember hundreds of other children who passed through my arms. All were traumatized or abused. I was tempted to pity them or fear them.

Pity helps no one. I learned that early in my social work career. Pity reinforces helplessness; and it elevates you to a position of power and control. So you learn to replace pity with action that focuses on the childís strength, will and determination to survive. And you learn not to be afraid of fear.

But there are days when Iím as scared as that nine-year-old who moaned like an animal trapped in a canyon. I have a long history with fear. It was the staple in my family. Grandmother Doris cried when you left the house. She feared runaway trucks and lurking kidnappers. Like most people, Doris feared the unknown and didnít like change.

Most people like to see things static, fixed and solid. But itís not the reality of love or life, for this reality shimmers with change. There is no constant except change. After half a century of living, Iíve learned that fear seems to be programmed into our DNA to keep us safe. Maybe itís a remnant of the days when humans were knuckle-walkers and sweet meat for tigers and bears.

You need to pay attention to fear; it warns you of danger ahead. Yet you donít need to give fear the power to keep you from moving forward.

Itís just fear. And it passes.

Hereís a secret that works: develop a relationship with your fear. Youíll never win a battle with it, so why not make friends? Maybe it is not welcome, yet fear is familiar. The sooner you learn to walk with fear, the sooner you express your potential in the world.

Hereís a recent letter, which I wrote to my fear:

Fear, dear friend, letís work together to create a life worth celebrating. Letís put our energies together and focus on one goal. Letís move out together. You can come along. Weíll work it out. You can piggyback for a while until its time for you to go. Youíre just trying to keep me safe. Thank you for your efforts. I send you my love and gratitude.

Why donít you write a letter to your fear? The next time it shows its face, take a moment to write a letter. Watch what happens. The instant you turn to face your fear with a friendly expression, fear begins to be transformed. In this way, fear opens the door to courage and compassion, which are important to the success of any relationship!

© 2002

Dr. Claudia Rose Dr. Claudia Rose is a teacher, healer, and author of three books, including ďDaughter of Spirit, Daughter of Peace: A Prayer for Humanity.Ē She is the founder of the Fairy Godmother Guild, dedicated to transforming lives with love. You can contact Dr. Rose at (714) 738-7751 or DrRose@daughterofpeace.com . Visit www.daughterofpeace.com .  


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