Remember that scene from the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy, the Scarecrow and the Tin-Man tip toed down the yellow-brick road talking about the absolute worst-case scenarios? Shortly after coming up with all those horrible things that could jump out of the woods and eat them, they started chanting about them as if they were conjuring up their fears… “lions and tigers and bears… oh my!”. Then all of a sudden…ROAR, here comes the Lion. I often wonder what would have happened if they were just intentionally silent and focused while they carefully made their way through the woods. We know the Lion was there, but would he have jumped out at them? Was it the Lion that even scared them? Or did they create a barrage of frightening thoughts that led them straight to the angry Lion?
The truth is, we are living in a season that is emotionally and mentally draining. Every day, we are met with a barrage of bad news. Major media outlets, family, friends and our social media feeds are slamming us with threats of COVID-19, company shut-downs, threats of recession, global warming (yes, it’s real), destruction, famine, lack…the list goes on and on. Doom and gloom is the current trend of the day and the fact is, it is VERY scary. I remember watching the movie “After Earth” with Will and Jaden Smith. It’s a post-apocalyptic film about what becomes of earth once people are no longer top of the food chain, and what happens when people have to rely on each other and self-will to survive. There is a moment in the film when Will Smiths character is explaining to his son how he was able to overcome fear and defeat the Ursa… an alienlike monster. I found the quote because I don’t want to paraphrase too much. But to further summarize this scene… he is explaining to his son how the alien practically kills him… he is calm, he is drowning, and he is dying. He looks up and see’s his blood pooling around him and changing the water above. He thinks to himself “wow, that’s pretty”. But he also realizes that the thing that was hunting him, couldn’t find him. It was then that he realized the Ursa couldn’t see him. He was invisible to the Ursa because he wasn’t scared in that moment and the Ursa was able to sense his fear. He tells his son,
"Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity Kitai. Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice”.
While the Wizard of Oz and After Earth don’t have much in common, their themes are similar. Stories of overcoming fear, defeating our fears and survival are strong and prevalent narratives. Here is the very pointed and sobering point of this weeks post. FEAR is a choice. Fear is crippling, destabilizing, irrational and muddled. I don’t think we go into a situation with the intent to be consumed by fear. Or more specifically, I don’t think we ever choose to be fractured, confused, jumbled, broken, incomplete, dazed, paralyzed, stuck, erratic or any of those things. But because those fear laden emotions show up all at once, it becomes easy for us to be overtaken by them. But we don’t have to. There is nothing that says we can’t dismantle the fear and respond to it based on the facts that surround it. This is why it’s so important to be informed about what it is that scares us. Or to understand the real danger that exists. Let’s unpack this even further so you don’t just think this is some “Rah-Rah” feel good stuff I’m spewing.
If you aren’t new to my platform, you know that I’ve lost jobs and left jobs. I’ve been unemployed and had to start all over from scratch. I’ve done this while having a family, a mortgage, cars and expenses. I won’t lie, it’s a scary situation to not know what the next move is but you have to keep moving forward, nonetheless. You don’t keep moving forward because you are oblivious to the dangers that exist, you keep moving because doing nothing is death.
So now we are here. Here is yet another moment in our lives where fear shows up like a mob. Fear looks bigger than us and comes with more voices than ours. Today’s fear is the potential for sickness and death. It’s the potential for company closures and job losses. It’s the potential to not be able to provide for your families and loss of our retirement funds. Or… maybe it’s not any of those things at all. The most egregious of assumptions during dangerous times, is that the danger is always impenetrable will certainly find and consume us. While the facts of fear are real, the facts of the contrary are just as true. Just as the potential for calamity exists … the potential for peace also exists. Companies could potentially close, but your family could potentially come out unscathed. Or greater still, your family’s resourcefulness could tap into its creativity and potentially create a new stream of income. This moment with all this potential, could potentially be exactly what you’ve sought or prayed for. What if the crippling emotion that comes with fear is potentially the catalyst to force you to move? Fear is full of potential… it’s all in what you choose to focus on.
Remember Dorothy and her comrade’s chants? Her fear became real. But the moment she realized the truth about the thing that she was afraid of, she slapped it down and rebuked it. “Shame on you … coward”. Her words to the Lion when he bit Toto.
It’s important for us to be able to see our fear for what it is and simply deal with it. It’s a compilation of our doubts about success and failure. No one can make us “unafraid”. Think about it…no matter how many times a parent tells a child that there is no boogeyman under the bed or in the closet, a child will always believe it’s there, until you show them it’s not. Beyond showing them, they have to believe it when the adult is gone and they are alone in their room, with nothing but the darkness and the thought of what awaits. The child has to trust the adult AND the facts about what’s in the dark. It’s not just turning the lights on…but it’s checking the closet with the lights off. It’s looking at the facts and dealing with the individual pieces of fear instead of trying to fight off the mob. Eventually, I knew there was nothing under my bed or in my closet. I no longer needed a flashlight or my mom to sit in my room. When fear creeped in again, I would say out loud, “I know there’s nothing there, so shut up!”.
I wanted to talk about fear this week because everyone is talking about how afraid they are. I know crisis exists. I know there is a great deal to stress to worry about. But I also know that sometimes these moments are not intended to cripple us. They are intended to make us vigilant and empowered. They force us to be resourceful and enterprising. The moments where all seems dark and hopeless, force us to be our own light and create our own hope. I believe in moments like this, there is something inside of us that wants to stand up and be courageous. I believe in these moments because I’ve been afraid, and I’ve been victorious. I became my own change and I created a path forward.
I encourage you to reconsider your response to fear. If you are worried about how you’ll support yourself or your family, maybe this is the perfect opportunity for you to focus on those dreams you’ve put on the backburner. Maybe you have a talent or skill that can benefit the world right now. If unemployment is good for anything, it’s time. You may have a little more of it… so use it wisely. Fill it up with purpose, creativity and hard work. Listen, there is no time like now to change your future. How you respond today can and will shape tomorrow.
I believe in you… so try something different and believe in yourself.
These are absolutely my thoughts…ratedpg.