• Austen Hayes

Dose #9: Must We Be So Afraid?

A Holiday Note. In this year of 2018 we watched as the world trembled with sorrow and destruction. At the same time, we've been witness to suffering buffered by human kindness and commitment to purpose for good.


Let it be the compassion and benevolence given that fosters hope and joy through this season of good will.


Desmond Tutu was asked "How can we feel joy in a world so troubled?" "The world needs your joy! Now, more than ever.", he replied.


Happy Holidays to all!


ah

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"It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live."

~ Marcus Aurelius

Dover's Hill Chipping Campden UK

How did we learn to be so afraid? With the exception of a few life-saving fears we carry at birth, the rest are learned.


We don't come into the world too afraid to ask for a raise, or tell our mate we're less than satisfied, or stand up to the office bully.


We're not born too afraid to tell someone how much we care, or how much we don't. On the day of our birth we had no idea how to be afraid of the interview we think will reveal our inadequacies. We didn't grow up aspiring to fear what others think about us - how we look, how we dress, how we talk, what part of town we were born in, what the inside of our house looked like, what school we attended. Those fears were not yet known when we were two. Lesson by lesson, we learned.


In the first grade we learned what it means to feel humiliation. So we stopped raising our hand.


At thirteen, we learned what it's like to be ostracized. So we began hiding who we feared we might be.


We learned to be intimidated by those we see as more powerful. So we stopped reaching.


We learned what it is to feel embarrassed when we say the 'wrong' thing. So we keep our ideas to ourselves.


We learned the meaning of a broken heart when the one we loved walked away. So we made the decision to never love again.


Eventually - if we're lucky - if we work at it, we worry a little less, but only for a while. Only until we find new things to fear.


Falling. Being alone. Being a burden. Being useless. Being invisible. Not having enough. Being forgotten.


As we become acquainted with the new fears, there's little space for the ones that held us back from childhood to old age. When we grow frail, when we're alone, life takes us back to the beginning when fears were driven by instinct. Finally, we see more clearly the folly and waste of those things we thought mattered so much.

Please don't live in fear. A child's fear of snakes, could save his life. An elderly person's fear of falling may save her from harm. But all those years in between, fears of judgment, inadequacy, ignorance - they never save, but only limit. They were learned at 5, or 9, or 11, when you didn't know any better, when you believed that if it was in your mind, it had to be true. You know you were mistaken. Still, you hold on to your story - shaped by your fears.


A growing understanding that life is not long at all, should spur you on. The realization that the people you fear have fears of their own. The wisdom to know life is too precious to miss...that giving a compliment, saying "no", saying "yes", wearing the outrageous thing you want to wear, going back to school no matter what they say, canceling your Facebook membership because it's no longer you, doing your part for climate change, or abandoning a career as a New York executive to raise cows on a farm in the middle of nowhere - is to live without the fear you learned along the way.


Choose what is you. Or, don't. Let it be your curiosity, your zest for life - not fear - that guides your decisions. Love again.


ah

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