Fear is a word we all are all accustomed to in some degree or another. For me, it is something I know far too well. The Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair, New Jersey’s recent service “Courage to Grow” dealt with fear. The whole month the congregation focused on courage as part of the Soul Matters program.
The skit based on the Buddhist tale – “The Way out of Fear,” had a student warrior battle with fear. The Rev. Scott Sammler-Michael, senior co-minister, played the role of “fear.” He wore a black, cloak and a mask covering his face. Nevertheless, the student warrior fought and defeated “fear” by acknowledging its presence, but not listening to its demands.
This is something I have been working on for quite some time. Since childhood, I was terrified to sleep at night because of what I thought were nightmares. About 15 years ago, I found out that I was actually astral traveling. Unfortunately, the undeveloped healer in me went to auto accidents, fires, and other such toddler-unsettling events. Oddly, I do so now as a journalist. However, this led to decades of insomnia, which I conquered for the most part. That was but one of my “fears.”
I have fallen back some in my progress, I know my elder the Rev. Foxxy (Sher) Pullen agrees. My mother has been in the hospital for six weeks and there were times when fear has gotten the best of me. I now jump when our landline rings, something I need to work on. I seem to have “hamster wheeled” in the madness of “what if,” “what’s next” and “will she…” fears. Hamster wheeling, a term coined by Foxxy, is when you focus on the same issues repeatedly. It serves no healthy purpose and only causes more stress.
There are ways to combat fear though. Grounding and centering are very helpful to keep you focused and get a better handle on the situation. Then there is shielding so you don’t pick up other people’s fears. Even though you think you have a handle on things, it’s easy to get trapped in others’ feelings. If you are an empath like me, noticing those vibes is seldom beneficial. Sometimes it is helpful, but not always and you can fall into panic mode. Fear can play tricks on you. Whether you buy into it or not determines if fear has control or you do.
My elders instilled in me to stay positive no matter what the situation is that I am facing. For the most part, I do this now as best I can. It takes a lot of practice to not fall back into old habits. This is another lesson my mom’s medical issues have taught me. Just keeping a positive outlook can change the outcome. By giving into fear, you are putting negative vibes out there. Telling yourself something positive “won’t happen” is self-sabotaging.
Additionally, this relates to another bad habit that I broke — “I can’t.” This goes hand in hand with fear. By saying you can’t you make it definite and let fear win automatically. These two lessons were the first things both Foxxy and Herm taught me. Sometimes I still fall into these habits, but not often anymore.
In order for magic to work, for a spell to be successful, we must believe fully that it will. Any doubt or fear we have will work against us. Herm always taught us to look at the outcome before you do any mundane task or magic. I have seen the successful results of tasks, which at first, I was unsure I would or could accomplish.
Breaking these bad habits is not easy; it takes time, patience and practice. Each time you catch yourself saying “I can’t” or “it won’t happen,” add the word “yet.” Any negative thought you have, flip it and make it positive. Eventually it will become second nature and you will be helping others with this struggle.
I do things now that I never dreamed I would do, such as leading groups and running AV tech. I was always afraid that I’d do it wrong or mess it up. Now I’m up in the tech booth fixing cameras without flinching, a tad uncertain, but not scared. I am building my confidence day by day and task by task. I still have a long way to go, but I will get there.
The Rev. Anya Sammler-Michael, senior co-minister, asked the reflection question, “What are three ways in which you wish to grow?” Wow, which had me thinking that there are so many answers. But pertaining to fear, it’s working on being consistently courageous. Yes, I still have issues in that department. It’s being the full me without flinching when entering new territory. It’s not hiding behind my fear, or worrying about what others think of me.
Most people know the Cowardly Lion in the “Wizard of Oz.” He overcame his fear and became courageous. While the moral is there, I do say don’t be like him. Yes, in one aspect do what he did and face your fears. However, don’t wait until someone tells you that you are brave to believe you are. See your courage for yourself. Believe in yourself.
Remember, confidence will out beat fear any day.