Fast and furious. That’s how they come- these fears in my mind. One thing I’ve noticed: they never rest. These fears may be the dregs of my thought life, but these dregs never settle. They constantly float around, imposing themselves on everything else seeking peace and clarity in my mind.
It can be overwhelming to keep track of these fears. They seem big. They seem powerful. And they seem to multiply and compound. Nevertheless, as a longstanding friend to fear, I had come to accept that there would always be something over which I had to worry. And so, I made no real attempt to confront my fear. I worked around it. I tried not to rouse it. And I carried on.
I have seen the power of gratitude and of recording the very many things for which I am grateful. However, I wondered what would happen if I were to write down my fears and give voice to these silent thieves- robbing me of my peace, of my presence and of my potential.
And so, today, I intentionally caught hold of each of the varied worries swirling around in my head and, in no particular order, I recorded them. Yes, I made a list of my fears. And you know what? The results were astounding. This is what I learned:
1. They give the illusion of grandeur.
Our fears seem bigger and more overwhelming when they are left unchecked. By listing my fears, I was able to give each one a name. By giving them a name, I was able to see that some of these fears weren’t as important as they initially made themselves out to be.
By writing them down, and by articulating them clearly, I realized that the narrative of each individual fear wasn’t as imposing as I had thought. It was as if the perceived enormity of each fear got lost in its literal translation. And, suddenly, they didn’t seem so big after all.
2. They lost their power.
Because these fears seemed too many to count- or because the same fear sometimes showed up in a different way in my head- I felt helpless. But witnessing these fears on paper, listed in black and white, allowed me to lump a number of them into a handful of categories. Seeing them stated plainly showed me just how actionable they could be. That I could easily take steps to address them or at least adjust my perception of them.
The power that they held over me was quickly dismantled as, one by one, I began to see the things that I could do – the things over which I actually had power and control – in order to release myself from these fears and regain my sense of balance and authority.
3. My list was much shorter than I anticipated.
This was, perhaps, the most surprising of my findings in this exercise. I used to believe that I had countless fears; but the truth is: there are not nearly as many as I thought. Numbering them quickly settled them into place. I was able to put them in order. Now they were listed. Ascribed a number. Categorized and itemized. No longer did they fly around in my head, too many to tally. Now they were there, relegated to paper. Plain as day. And I could easily count them on my fingers.
4. Fear holds us back.
There are things that I want to do, that I want to be, and that I envision for myself and for my future. I know that I want them badly and I dream of pursuing them… but for fear. This vision that I have for my life seems so clear, and yet so different from what I have now. It would necessarily involve making changes in my habits, in my routine, and in my priorities in order to see it to fruition.
And so, naturally, I feared it. I feared what would happen if I lent myself fully to this vision. If I gave in to its call. It’s urging. It is prompting for change. As I pored over my list, I felt that fear in a very real way. What would I have to do to accomplish these things? What would I have to let go of? What would happen if I failed? But then, in an instant, it became all too clear to me that there was an even bigger fear that far outweighed these concerns: and that was the fear of not doing it at all. Yes, I fear change. But I fear no change even more.
Making this list of fears was a freeing exercise, one which I intend to repeat on a regular basis. The act of naming, shaming and reframing my fears was empowering. I now feel bigger than my fears. I see that they are within my control. I realize that they don’t outnumber my blessings. And, most importantly, I am confident that I will no longer allow them to hold me back from pursuing the life that I know that I want.
About the Author: Hailing from a small island in the Caribbean, Angelina Lee is a wife, mother of three, and Attorney-at-Law. After her Plan A life left her wanting more, she is exploring her Plan Be in which she tries to live more intentionally.