When is the last time you evaluated your relationship with fear?

Fear is a fascinating attribute of the human condition. It is this thing that everyone feels, yet most of us expend a lot of energy trying to conceal the fact that we feel it.

I’m currently 35-years-old. Conservation of energy is more important to me now than it has ever been. Over the years I have felt the fatiguing effects of living in fear. I had to change my relationship with fear in order to reclaim my health and vitality. I am going to share some of the things I learned in that journey.

There are three main fears which dominate the human experience for most people:

1. The fear of not being good enough, or of not being accepted

2. The fear of not being safe or secure

3. The fear of being abandoned, separated, or alone

When I assessed how these three fears manifested in my life experiences, I noticed something astounding: all of my energy was being exerted to conceal these three fears – all of it.

Early in life, I abandoned my dream to travel, teach, and write and instead pursued a career in the corporate world. I did not believe I could make “enough” money by traveling, teaching, and writing. I was concerned with making “enough” money (by society’s standards) so other people would deem me “good enough.” I spent my corporate money on meaningless things to symbolize my being “good enough.”

Gradually, I devolved from an exuberant wonder and adventure enthusiast into a robotic creature of habit, addicted to politics and consumption.

I wanted to exit my corporate life, but the fear of not being financially secure kept me chained to my job title.

I fantasized about joining the Peace Corps, but the fear of being alone prevented me from ending a long term romantic relationship. He wanted to move to the west coast, get married, and settle down. I wanted to travel the world and write about how humans are more alike than we are different. But the fear of being alone was a powerful force, and I was willing to sacrifice every dream I had to avoid facing that fear.

There I was, waking up to work a job I did not love, to make money that I wasted on things to fill my emptiness, while lying in bed at night next to someone whose idea of happiness was in a different stratosphere than my own. All of my energy was being used up by my fears.

My relationship with fear was one-sided. I let fear tell me what I could and could not do. Fear ruled me. Then, something strange happened.

My long-term romantic relationship ended. After a relatively brief period of heartache I felt a sense of expansion and freedom. I realized that I had survived the pain of being alone, which had been one of my greatest fears. I realized that I might be able to overcome my other fears as well.

I applied to the Peace Corps and was accepted. I quit my job. I spent my savings to travel. I started publishing my writing.

Fear still shows up in my journey, but my relationship with it has changed. Whenever I notice one of the former three fears rising within me, I remember that many gifts are waiting to be claimed on the other side of fear.

Gradually, I have learned how to tame my mind, honor my emotions, and listen to the intuition of my body to overcome fear. I feel more alive and enthralled at age 35 than I did at age 25.

In the next Ripple I will get more specific about how we can change our relationship with fear. I share this as a gift to anyone out there who is ready to face their fears, but is not quite sure what the next steps look like.

I am with you.