Wednesday, June 12, 2024

What We're Really Afraid Of

If, sitting alone in a comfortable space, I am not afraid of anything, but if, in the moment, I seem to be afraid of everything...what am I really running up against? 

Am I secretly a person just full of fear? Am I really someone so terrified that I cannot function as a human being anywhere but in the private of my own sacred space? I keep saying that I am not lying when I say that I am not afraid of things - and I believe I'm not - I really lying after all?

Am I lying to myself?

I'm not - and that's exactly the point. The thing that really drives my fear, most of the time, is the very real truth that I know about myself. It's the track record I have of certain tendencies and behaviors that have firmly demonstrated themselves throughout my life, without much conscious thought (most of the time). 

Back to the skydiving example I was using on Monday. There's nothing inherently scary about skydiving, provided all of the mechanics work. In my head, I can convince myself of the safety and security and relative non-weirdness of jumping out of a plane. Thousands of persons, at least, do this every day, and our headlines are not filled with catastrophic failures on a routine basis. It is a safe activity. (Relatively.) 

What makes it scary at the moment that I have to decide whether to jump out of the plane is not the nitty-gritty of skydiving itself; it's all of the things that I know about me that make it scary. 

It's knowing my propensity toward motion sickness, whether I like it or not. It's knowing that sense of vertigo that honestly, is already taking over by now. It's knowing how sometimes, I can get lost in a moment and forget to do the things that I've even been thinking obsessively about doing - like pulling a ripcord. It's remembering when I tore the ligament in my ankle and wondering if it's strong enough to withstand the landing.

The basis of fear is never really whether or not a thing can be done; the basis of fear is always whether or not I can do this thing. Me. With everything that I know about myself from a lifetime of living with me. 

The basis of our fear is always the things we think we know about ourselves. 

And generally, the conclusion that we come to is that whatever we're facing is indeed quite possibly, but not for me

The thing we are most afraid of, then, is...ourselves. It's our own failures. It's our own shortcomings. It's the questions we carry around in the depths of our souls, the things we can't un-see when we look in the mirror. It's the stuff we think everyone else must be just as sure of about us as we are about ourselves, even if literally no one else on the planet would ever had known it. Or had any way of actually knowing it. 

At the moment at which we must decide whether or not to do something, whether or not to go for it, whether or not it's do-able, the only thing we really have to decide is whether we can. The only thing we're really up against is ourselves. The only thing that really scares us. 

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