What Do You Do With Fear?

In August my friend, Kathy Drue, published a post about fear in her thought-provoking blog, “Simply Here.”

Earlier this month my friend, Daisy Hickman, published a post about fear in her warm and welcoming blog Sunny Room Studio.

If you don’t already know these two wise women, please go introduce yourself—they’ll make you feel right at home.

Fear can be debilitating—it can cause us to freeze in our tracks (emotionally or otherwise), cutting us off at the knees.

Fear can be a leverage point—(emotionally or otherwise), helping us get from Point A to Point B.

One of my clients recently said, “Laurie, how can you possibly relate to what I’m going through? You have the perfect life—you don’t have anything to be afraid of.”

I’ll be the first one to say that her perception of me is not accurate. But as I shared with Kathy, I’ve always found it a good practice to set my fears down so that I can stand on them, and step up into joy.

What do you do with fear?

© lauriebuchanan.com

49 thoughts on “What Do You Do With Fear?

  1. OMG Here is that word again? Is it a word, is it an experience, is it something I am born with or something I picked up on the way through life.
    I have admitted I had fears, and have them, as an underlying motivation, either to move forward or backward, to advance or the withdraw.
    There are parts of my life where I have face fear head on and have gotten through it. Yet there are place in my life that fear still wish to reside, keeping me stuck or at least shy.
    Fear seems to be an ongoing process of letting go, moving beyond, understanding of what works and what does not.

    You are correct Kathy Drue and Daisy Hickman are powerful insightful ladies, their blogs always filled with amazing wisdom to make one think and move into action.

  2. Good morning, Laurie and Jeff, and whoever passes through Laurie’s insightful blog today. Thanks, Laurie, for pointing back to that Fear blog I wrote back in August. (Had to go re-read it to see what it said.) Interesting perspective even a couple of months ago.

    In the past two months months I have learned to move forward into my fear, seeing it even more closely, staying with it even more. Being able to be fully in the little pulses of feelings as they arise. And–am happy to report–this core fear from childhood has strangely and wonderufully almost disappeared. Or, rather, when it arises, there isn’t alwyas a reactive energy that follows.

    Thanks again for this blog and mentioning Simply Here.

    • Kathy,

      Surprised to see you here so early after your late night in town… LOL!
      I think I may have to go back to read your blog once again myself, if I even read it before? Hmm?

    • Kathy – I really enjoyed the action words you used in your response. Rather than staying frozen in fear like a deer in the headlamps, you: Move forward, see (letting us know that you look), stay with it (yes, that’s active, not passive), and fully be.

  3. Sometimes, I allow fear to hold me back, to leave me stuck, sometimes. More and more however, I recognize fear as a directive to move forward. With fear comes a lot of energy, a quickly beating heart, a surge of adrenaline. I most often choose to use this extra energy as a propellant into whatever imagined fear I may be facing and to move through and past it.

  4. I think that it’s a 2-part question. Either the fear is in or out of your control. The first type of fear are things like a speech, flying in a plane, heights, and those that drive and won’t turn left. Those are everyday fears that you can learn to face and overcome. Secondly, there is the fear that you have in a situation that is out of your control and someone else is in control and you cannot overcome it. For example there is the fear of death in a horrible situtation and you don’t know what the outcome will be. I’m talking about being kidnapped, held at gunpoint or tortured. Those are example of fears that are out of your control. I’m fearful of escalutors. I think my mom imbedded in my head as a kid that my shoelaces would get caught and I’d lose a foot. It takes several stairs to go by before I jump on. But if I focus I can get through it on my own! That’s more of a challenge. Being raped and not knowing if your going to die or not is a fear and your under his control.

    • Dawn – I very much appreciate your observation about different types of fear: Fear that’s within our control, and fear that is out of our control. And how we can either react (knee-jerk), or respond (thought-filled) to whichever type presents itself. Thank you for bringing that distinction here.

  5. I have had a long history with fear–and have used it in a myraid of ways.
    I’ve used fear to…
    -pervent me from growing
    -propel me forward to growth
    -capture support from others
    -hide from others
    -conceal myself in imagination
    -harness imagination so that I can get more out of life
    Fear is my firend, my foe and sometimes isn’t even there.

  6. Laurie, what a thought-provoking question. After some time to process, I realized that I am fearful or uncomfortable when my Brain Color personality is not thriving in an encouraging or trustworthy environment.
    My Yellow Brain does like to feel that someone else is in charge of my decisions.
    My Blue Brain is fearful about something tragic happening to my loved ones.
    My Green Brain is uncomfortable if I do not have all the information to make a healthy decision.
    My Orange Brain requires the freedom of self-expression!

  7. Laurie as you might guess I take my fear for a long walk and that usually takes the stuffy out of it and brings it down to size!

    There has been the odd time where fear has been the appropriate and justified response such when my phone and hydro were disconnected and my home was being broken into while I was inside with a small baby and a toddler.

    Yes, I have had some of the most interesting life experiences 🙂

    Even still a person’s best response is as you have shown by your photograph – set your fear down so you can stand on it.

    Staying calm while acknowledging the fear seems to be the right combination for enabling accurate in-the-moment critical thinking. For example, the intruder who disconnected my hydro and telephone before trying to come through the window was known to me. I knew by instinct that he would trust my ability to follow through on a threat. The window was far enough off the ground that he had to come in head first. In a split second, I reached into the oven and grabbed a good sized cast iron frying pan and leaped back to the window as if up to bat. Then I said, in the deepest, most serious, Clint-Eastwood-voice I could muster. “If you stick your head through that window I am going to knock it off your *%#@+ shoulders!” One glance at this very upset mom with nothing between him and her babies and a cast iron frying pan loaded with anger and fear and the intruder made the right decision. He slowly slide down from where he had broken the window and left. Later the next day, when it was safe to leave, I reported the incident to the police. He was charged and convicted of a federal offence for tampering with hydro and telephone connections which oddly had stiffer penalties than threatening me or breaking into my home.

    Much later my brothers loved to tell the story and began with something like “watch out for my sister she has a loaded frying pan.”

    • Terrill – That’s a FANTASTIC story, thank you for sharing it here. I LOVE what your brothers said, “Watch out for my sister, she has a loaded frying pan.” Holy Toledo, I’m so glad they caught the culprit. Hula burgers – I got goosebumps just reading it!

    • holy potholder, Terrill – good for you! I think a lot of times right beneath fear is a whole bunch of anger just looking to land somewhere; that guy got off lucky. You probably would have taken his head right off.

  8. I appreciate your demonstration to stand on fears… or my take is to take a stand on this very real emotion that I suspect was originally there within all of us to be able to handle threats on survival.

    One should be able to sort out their own fears from ‘dead men’s fears or another’s goa’l in the family or from a friend.

    It’s a very peculiar thing that you may be seeking a life continuation and life realization from people no longer amongst us in that precise identity.

    Out of nobility and grief, so does one take on the burdens of those who have laid down their burdens. You’ve helped us to look along with the comments shared here a much clearer perception of fear. Hugs to you, Kathy and Daisy for sharing blogs.

  9. well, Laurie, I have been afraid since day one of consciousness. I was probably afraid before that, but I know I have always had fear — mostly of not knowing what to do, where to go, and what was supposed to happen. I always have moved through my fear, still afraid, but only a few times in my life have I turned around. I live with this constant anxiety about the unknown and the fact that I am in control of very little except my responses to life. In the end, I choose to focus on what makes me feel good, makes me happy, gives me a feeling of belonging, and is always there for me . . . my eternal presence.

    • Barbara – I appreciate what you’ve shared here, especially, “I always have moved through my fear, still afraid…” That’s big! As far as the unknown, I used to feel the same way you do. Then one day I had a shift in perspective and realized that the unknown is where endless possibility resides. That shift made all the difference for me.

    • Ann – I recently saw a poster that showed letting go is at the seat of letting God. It was the word “God” with a strikethrough the “d.” You still clearly saw the word “God” — but now the “go” was really brought to the forefront.

  10. Question: What do you do with fear? Me: Hmmph, I’ve succumbed to it without even knowing. There’s a funny thing that happens when you call fear something else. If you don’t know fear is running you, your coping mechanisms start getting stranger and stranger. So the thing to do is to even FIND your fear and not deny it, then stare it down and see who wins. Fear might win sometimes, but not all times!

    • Jessica – It’s wonderful to see you here. I’m so glad you shared your perspective about finding and naming your fear (not denying it), and then staring it down — regardless of the winner. Great word picture, thank you!

  11. Amazing visual Laurie! What I find is best is to look “fear” in the eye. You have to get to a point in your life where you can stand up for yourself and say…”I am not afraid of you…you can do nothing positive for me so I will conquer you!” Then, I simply visualize myself in armor. The armor is my protection. Next step? Baby steps…. 🙂

  12. I always use October to work on my “fear” and bring up new awareness and insight….I have a special ( well one of my kids old spiral notebooks they did not use up) journal I use each new October. Similar to the early people who lit big bonfires and tried to clean their fields of fearful intruders, I try to shed light on what worries me or concerns me….and then study how to relieve those fears. I believe then I will be ready to advance myself to finding my better self in the dark of winter when I am not distracted by the whims of outdoors and can turn on the light to my gifts and talents.

    I am currently tackling whether or not I will be able to sing again, by joining the Olympia Peace Choir with my 5 notes of sound post surgery. I am also working building my immune system so I can go to San Francisco for a visit and not get another virus that swells my joints and brings so much pain….I am truly afraid to experience this again.
    And I am diving deeply into what is stopping me from losing weight – what am I hanging on to?

    I think this is more what Halloween is about than costumes and candy, which now the adults in my area have made bigger than the children’s celebrations….I think it is now a big cover up of what they need to address in themselves. One in 5 adults are on an anti-depressant these days – we need to learn how to use our fear to help us grow…not mask and hide it

    Great post Thank you for sharing.

    • Patricia – I love your October journaling tradition: “Similar to the early people who lit big bonfires and tried to clean their fields of fearful intruders, I try to shed light on what worries me or concerns me….and then study how to relieve those fears.” That’s waaaaaaay cool!

  13. For the most part Laurie I give fear the boot, when I notice it that is. However it’s a sneaky lil guy isn’t it!! Thanks for the post and for the tickler to the other two posts, I found all these to contain words of wisdom. Most appreciated.

  14. What an appropriate month to talk about this subject head-on, and the fantastic responses above one after the other illustrate you have really hit a chord here. Yes, fear is something we all face everyday, and few can compare to our effervescent proprietor when it comes to knocking it down to size (love your firm steps in the picture above!) Fear for failing health, fear over the well-being of our loved ones, fear when we get a bad medical report on people we know and love, fear of finincial difficulties, fear of getting bad new in the middle of the night, well there is no doubt it’s the most suffocating and intimidating emotion that we have, and sometimes it’s best just to tune it out with confidence and a brighter world view. Denial of course isn’t the way to go. Again, Laurie, you have expanded the literature with a supremely helpful and revealing post on one of humanity’s most unspeakable maladies.

    • Sam – I wish I could say it isn’t so, but yes, “fear is something we all face everyday.” And as you so wisely pointed out, “denial isn’t the way to go.” Action steps — tangible, measurable, action steps — are required to vanquish fear. Sweeping it under the carpet, or pretending it isn’t there, or that it’s something else only feeds the monster.

      Thank you for your visit. I hope that you and yours have a FANTASTIC weekend in the great northeast!

  15. Hi Laurie! I popped on over from Patricia’s! The title of your post grabbed me. Not that I love fear, mind you. I consider it one of the “f” words! I try not to say it or think it. Avoidance only partially works, 🙂 but I try. Journaling – I’m a journal junkie – does wonders for spitting it out, if necessary, and as you said so beautifully, “stepping on it”.

    Loved your post and the comments! I’ll be back!

    • Susan – Welcome to Speaking from the Heart. I’m so glad you stopped in by way of Patricia’s place. “Journaling Junkie” — oh, that’s a great type of addiction 🙂 and a terrific way to vent, or as you said, “spit it out.”

  16. Pingback: Dame Emma Kirkby at Madison Ave. Presbyterian Church, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Musical Countdown and Jaime Grijalba’s Halloween Party on Monday Morning Diary (October 24) « Wonders in the Dark

  17. Fears? Put a name to them – better than a vague shapeless unknown.
    Then assess – what’s the worst that can happen. OK – that’s the base from which to build.
    The move on from there.

  18. So many fears!

    I have had a fear of heights that started young, fuelled by my mother’s fears.
    Once on a scout camp (about age 13) I was climbing a blue-gum tree, and slipped, afraid I would fall to the ground I gripped the tree in a bear hug, and nothing anyone said made me release that grip. The scout master ended up rigging a block and tackle and pulling me off the tree.
    Since then I have learned to go into my fears. In respect of that particular fear, I have learned to abseil, to climb mountains, to fly, to parachute; and then to be able to make the fear disappear by altering the context.
    It took a lot to be able to point the nose of an airplane directly at the ground from only 300 ft high, then pull a 4 gee pullout and land in less than 100ft of rollout. Quite freaky the first time one does it alone (if you’re flying a tow plane it allows you to have very quick turnaround, and get a lot of gliders airborne in a very short time).

    Fear seems to have a physiological basis in survival, to cause us to freeze (and thus escape being noticed), or to run (and thus escape the predator), both of which are workable strategies in some situations – hence either immobility, or heart pounding adrenaline rush.

    I have experienced the fear of someone pulling a knife on me, and making a serious attempt to bury it in my chest, and the fear of someone firing bullets at me, and not missing by very much at all.

    For a long time I was afraid of public speaking, and stuttered when I tried, yet now I can stand in front of any sized group, and talk about a subject I am conversant in. Lots of practice to get from one state to the other, many years of being intentionally uncomfortable.

    Now I actively seek to become aware of all the threats to survival that exist, and to create mitigating strategies where possible.

    And it is not possible to remove risk entirely, one can only manage it, to within limits acceptable to the individual.

    Some people “freak out” thinking about global pandemics, comet strike, super-volcano explosion, warfare, economic collapse, aging. I like to investigate the mechanisms behind them and find ways to avoid or mitigate them.
    Some are big, like supervolcanoes. To survive them we need mechanisms to be able to move millions of people quickly, across long distances, and we also need to be able to grow food off planet for decades, before the atmosphere clears enough to grow crops again.

    So fear is a very old survival mechanism, one from our distant evolutionary past, and we can control it with awareness if we can see it coming soon enough to change the context before it fully takes over. And as always, nothing is certain in life.

    • Ted – I really appreciate the insight(s) you’ve shared here, thank you. Bottom line on top — fear is, indeed, a survival mechanism — one we can use to our advantage.

  19. So odd as I sit here reading blogs and watching Jane Eyre again, and wishing I had the courage to go to see a concert I want to go to that NO ONE would go to with me. But I cannot bring myself to go alone because I am afraid. I hike alone, go to the movies alone, go out to eat alone, essentially live alone, eat alone, climb ladders alone but I cannot go to see an amazing musician alone. Thank you for posting this. I guess I need to overcome my fear. But how. How.

  20. Pingback: Paranormal Activity 3, Puss n Boots, House on Haunted Hill, Halloween and October Snow on Monday Morning Diary (October 31) « Wonders in the Dark

  21. Pingback: What are you Afraid of? – patriciaswisdom.com

  22. Pingback: Like Crazy, The Last Rites of Joe May, Tower Heist and Tennesse Williams on Monday Morning Diary (November 7) « Wonders in the Dark

  23. Pingback: Fear | Ted Howard NZ's Blog

  24. Pingback: Melancholia, J. Edgar, West Side Story, Broadway Bob’s wedding and Musical Countdown at Monday Morning Diary (November 14) « Wonders in the Dark

  25. I think I am working on fear right now Laurie and trying to set women’s health free from the fear mongers and let the truth set folks free…
    Thanks for the link

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.