Always do what you are afraid to do.~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fear is perhaps the strongest emotion humans experience. It drives so many of our decisions from getting out of bed each day to choosing clothes to eating dinner and watching TV. You may not realize how much fear affects you until you pause and think about the decisions you make.

Recently, two people were supposed to come for a vacation at my home. I’ll give you that one of them is very ill with multiple disabilities. That person’s fears are very real. I know because I experience many of them myself. The second person is afraid of life. And that is why the trip got cancelled.

Fear of living. Fear of the unknown. Wow. That’s potent stuff. I know many people with disabling anxiety. For some, it is so severe that they isolate from everyone. I get that too as I was once there. Anxiety can be crippling and very hard to overcome.

But a fear of living. A fear of taking chances. A fear of leaving the comforts of home. Wow. I feel sad for this person. All the beautiful experiences they are missing out on. Yes, life is messy. And scary. And painful. But it is also filled with wonder, awe, joy and happiness. When you get yourself caught in the rut of being unable to change, you lose. I think of all the missed opportunities and experiences that happen when you are afraid to embrace life. Wow.

Just in case anyone reading this starts to think I don’t believe in fear/phobia, I do. I believe that fear is as real as any physical disorder out there. I’ve experienced it. Every person I know experiences fear. Some just handle it better than others. I think maturity plays a large role. If you consider a child who is afraid of the dark, it’s most likely a lack of feeling secure in that environment. I know my kids had special routines and stuffed animals that protected them from the night. I can honestly say that nighttime no longer holds significant fear factor for any of my kids. They learned about the night, developed ways to cope and moved on.

I have a fear of being hit by a semi truck on the freeway. It stems from a rather violent crash in 1987 where my little Mitsubishi was crushed by a semi on the I-10 in Phoenix. Thirty-seven years later and I still have a healthy respect for large vehicles traveling at high speeds. Most people would agree that experience would result in fear.

I imagine when your life isn’t where you thought it would be, it can cause fear. I say imagine because my personal philosophy is to bloom wherever I land. It may be the only chance I have to experience something. I embrace my fear and seek for ways to change that fear into knowledge and from knowledge to understanding. I know not everyone does this, but if I chose to remain fearful, I’d never leave my comfort zone either.

Baby steps. That’s how we overcome fears. Leaving our comfort zones and checking out what’s happening in our world help us to understand things so we can process and learn to cope with the changes. It’s a slow process for many, but not impossible. If you never try, then you are denying yourself the opportunity to live.

So, to the one friend with very real concerns about health issues, I’m glad you have found a way to make life work for you. To the other, perhaps you will continue to mature enough to realize that boxes eventually fall apart and when they do, you will have to face those fears. I only wish that you could understand what you are missing right now.

To the other people following my blog…don’t let fear be the only guiding emotion in your life. Don’t miss out on those special-once-in-a-lifetime moments. Know that others are just as fearful as you are. Take those baby steps and see what your world can offer.

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin’ might mean takin’ chances but they’re worth takin’,
Lovin’ might be a mistake but it’s worth makin’,
Don’t let some hell-bent heart leave you bitter,
When you come close to sellin’ out reconsider,
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

Dance. ~ LeeAnn Womack


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