In our culture, we have a complicated series of stories about fear.
In one set of stories, we learn that we should avoid fear. In this story, we want someone else to make things safe for us. At its core, this story is about feeling so vulnerable that we cannot afford fear, and so if we feel it, we understand it to mean stop.
In another story, designed to counter the stagnating effects of the first, we hear that we should ignore fear. We are told to do things that scare us, to face our fears, not to be held back by them. For some people, this seems to really work. For the rest of us, it can be paralyzing, because it doesn’t help us know what to do when just ignoring it doesn’t work.
In both of these stories, fear is an adversary: something to be avoided or overcome. Here’s a third story, though: fear doesn’t have to be a roadblock or something that you need to blow through. Instead, it can be a signpost, a source of information, an ally.
Here are a few ideas I have about what fear might be saying if it’s not saying stop or ignore me:
- slow down
- pay more attention to this part
- could this other thing that happened in the past help here?
- I need something