I chatted with a friend the other night, and he told me that he’s not afraid of anything. That nothing scares him. And that made me wonder, as a life-long worrier and scaredy-cat, how can that be? And if he’s not afraid, can I break the fear habit ingrained in my very core? A habit that started during my childhood, during periods of little-to-no food and walking on (non-literal) eggshells so as not to anger my bi-polar father? A habit that manifested itself in many ways throughout my life?
Because of fear, for example, I:
- Placed last in competition the year I finally got to attend horse camp. (I would have been around 12 years old. I felt too afraid to enjoy riding the horse, even though I’d wanted to since forever.)
- Didn’t buy my dream car – a 1966 fire-engine-red Mustang convertible with white top. In immaculate condition. For practically nothing.
- Stayed married to the wrong man for far too long.
- Haven’t finished the novel I started in 1996, a novel with a character I love, and whose story I must finish telling.
- Stayed in a job with a culture of unethical behavior and horrible treatment of its staff. (Thankfully, I didn’t stay very long.)
After pondering it, I’ve come to believe that fear is a habit. And, since it’s a habit, I CAN break it. I can tell fear: “thank you fear, I appreciate your concern, but I don’t need you anymore. I can do anything. I won’t let you hold me back anymore.”
Will this be hard work? Heck yeah. But, I have proof that I can overcome it. I kept teaching a college course despite the fear of student reprisals after I did something they didn’t like. I divorced my first husband and made a new life, and am now married to a wonderful man. When I got laid off from my corporate job, I started pursuing my true self and a new career: art and words. I got a book contract and finished a book (not MY book, but still. A book. Written by me).
Can I break this habit of fear? Absolutely. As many times as I have to break it, I will.