What are you afraid of?

Most of us are afraid of something.  For some it is heights or for others it is crawling bugs, snakes or other types of animals.    One of my personal fears is being confined in small spaces (claustrophobia)    and I can remember well the day many years ago when I spent 45 minutes in a closed MRI.  I sang every song and prayed every prayer I knew to get through that episode.

Some of our fears are concrete like the ones I just described, but many are unfounded and based on perception.  Some of the most common perceptions that frighten people is that they don’t speak well, that others do not like them or that they are not smart or “pretty/handsome”.  These perceived fears are much more challenging to deal with and their roots can sometimes be very deep and problematic.  Children are told by their parents that they are “dumb” or “ugly”     and those seeds take root and are cultivated in a variety of ways as people grow older and into their adulthood.

I am currently reading a book that deals with the topic of fear in a very unique and meaningful way.  The book, “Life of Pi” is not about mathematics.  Pi Patel is a young man from India who grows up in a traditional family with a younger brother and two parents.  His family runs a zoo in India and his father decides that they would have better fortunes in Canada, so they pack up the animals on a freighter and head to Canada over the ocean.  The freighter sinks and Pi is the lone survivor on a lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena and a Bengal tiger.  I won’t go much further into the story, but one of the quotes from the book that precipitated this post is the following:

Only Fear can defeat Life.  It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It shows no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy.  It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unerring ease.  It begins in your mind, always.  One moment you are feeling calm, self-possessed, happy. Then fear, disguised in the garb of mild-mannered doubt, slips into your mind like a spy.  Doubt meets disbelief and disbelief tries to push it out.  But disbelief is a poorly armed foot soldier. Doubt does away with it with little trouble.

This phrase comes at  a critical point in the story, but it holds so true to many things in my life, and in the lives of so many others.  Fear is the anchor that prevents us from sailing into waters we should navigate in our personal and professional lives.  Fear is the cancer that eats away at our self esteem and our positive outlook on so many things we do, say and hear from others.  Fear is an opponent that can rarely be defeated one-on-one.  Try as we might, we battle fear every day, week and month, but without the  help and support     of others I suspect that Fear rules the day in many of our lives.  I know it does in mine.

What is your fear?

What is the greatest fear of your spouse, your children or your loved ones?

What are you doing to help them overcome this fear?

Who are you  confiding in to alleviate your fears?

Fear is a cruel opponent.  Don’t face it along, for if you so, you may surely lose the battle, if not the war.

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