I just thought of something today. I am most definitely sure it is not the first time this has been thought of by someone, in the every same way I thought of it. I am also sure it has been expressed many more eloquent ways than I am capable of. But it struck me all the same, and I want to share it. I realized something.
Fear is like a pet monster.
We all have different levels of fear, about different things in life. Some fear rejection, others fear acceptance. Some fear public speaking, others fear solitude. Some fear “the other”, others fear self. Some fear the exposure of things in the light, others fear the darkness.
Some of our fears are valid, and experience based, others are irrational uncertainties we have allowed to spiral out of control.
But no matter what the fear is, as long as we entertain it, we are giving it a place of residence. That fear becomes our very own pet fear monster. And like any pet, the fear monster thrives, or dies based on our maintenance of it. And this maintenance of that pet fear monster, its means of survival or extinction, comes out of how we engage with the object of our fear.
Surely denial of fear, along with avoidance of the object of the fear, only gives nourishment to the fear monster. It eats it up, grows, becomes more powerful, acts more rabidly, and becomes less and less easy to contain. Our fear monster becomes like a raging Rottweiler, foaming at the mouth, barking behind the fence, scaring those who pass by. After a while, even us as the pet owners lose control, and that fear monster literally eats us up alive!
But maybe that fear monster should not be seen as a pet at all. Maybe more of a pest; like a disgusting rat that managed to burrow its way into the walls of our house, only taking from us, spreading disease, and giving nothing positive in return. But depending on the size of the fear monster, mere once off poison will most likely not do the trick to rid our lives of this vermin. We have to work more long term.
We have to stop feeding it, and cease giving it the nutrition it needs to survive. We have to starve it.
Without doubt, this is a process of challenging it, engaging the object of fear, putting our self in a place to confront it and even be beaten by it at times, to stand back up to it again and again, over and over again, and then a bit more.
The fear monster will starve, be malnourished, a bony being with no meat, weak, feeble, delicate and tired. The fear monster will have no strength to stand and absolutely be powerless over us.
But we have to determine whether our fear monster is a pet, or an unwanted visitor. And depending on the answer to that, we need to treat it accordingly.