Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The only thing we have to fear ...

... is fear itself.

So said US President Franklin D. Roosevelt all those years ago .. but it remains more true than ever today.

It seems to me that I know a lot of people who are afraid of themselves.

Afraid they can't do something that is their passion so they quit instead of facing their fears and doing their best - persevering at any and all odds to experience living a full life because they are afraid of the unknown - they don't know exactly how things will happen, how their efforts will turn out.

Others are afraid of being alone so they get - and stay - in unhealthy relationships believing it's better than not being with *someone.* Again, fear of not being able to find someone to treat them well, afraid of the unknown.

Others are afraid they'll lose their security if they don't do everything in their power to stay in an unhealthy job or an unhealthy relationship from which they believe they derive security. Yep, afraid of getting out there because they are afraid of the unknown, not giving their lives the opportunity to explore other avenues and find true happiness.

Others are afraid that the success they enjoy is undeserved, and they are afraid of facing their fears about that so they run ram shod over others - keeping them at a distance so they won't discover this sad "secret."

More, others start to face themselves, but draw the line at a certain point early on. I know actors who get so involved in activities that are nothing more than diversions from what they really want to do - where they really want to go - or at least say they really want to become professional actors.

As a coach, all I can do is point this out and let people make their own decisions. The toughest part of being a coach is to watch as people wade through the outcome of their less than healthy decisions.

But I see the fear in their eyes - they have to distract themselves because they're too afraid to stay on track. I know each person has a different reason for doing this, and when people don't face themselves early on in their careers - to really know who they are before they start messing with their futures and their characters' lives? It can be scary.

Still others are so afraid of doing anything to change themselves, believing that facing the unknown in anything is just to scary so they literally kill themselves staying with what they know -- whether it's unhealthy, destructive to themselves and others, or simply a means to survive since they're terrified of seeking other ways - or other people with whom to survive.

Many women - and men - in abusive relationships refuse to get the help they need to find healthy ways to relate for fear that they will somehow lose one another. Tragically, they can go on for *years* and *years* playing their miserable cat and mouse games because they are too frightened to face the truth, face the music, and honestly determine who they are, what will make them genuinely happy and how to enjoy truly happy, fulfilling relationships.

A partner who refuses to grow, as we have seen far too many times in our culture, can become homicidal - kill his partner and/or himself rather than allow anything to change - even when children are involved.

In part because healthy intimate relationships are not something they have witnessed personally; in part because each individual in this sort of cat and mouse relationship frequently is in it for himself or herself so they continue to live in their paranoid fear - not in it for each other and the partnership.

As we reach young adulthood, these things are always based on choice. Deciding whether we want to have a healthy relationship and then to learn about them; how to achieve them as well as seek counseling or help from friends who are in healthy relationships.

Great fodder for drama and comedy.

Tragedy, however, and many, many wasted years in real life because it's as if people who live in such stark fear spend their lives in those little gerbil cage wheels. The cute little furry guy looks so adorable as he believes he's going somewhere because he's making the wheel turn.

The faster he makes it go? The farther he believes he is moving.

But we, looking from the outside, know what's really going on.

And those of us who see the truth in the people around us whose motivation is ultimately and almost always based on fear have the obligation to live courageously. To constantly work to face the truth in our own lives so we can live with personal integrity and avoid the misery caused by being afraid to face who we really are - and what isn't working in our lives.

As difficult and frightening as it is to begin the path of exploring the unknown and facing our fears? It becomes more simple and fulfilling as we continue to live that way.

Once you start living this way, however, you really can't go back to unnecessarily cowering again, because you not only know what fear is, intimately, but understand how to react to it when it surges through us.

"Good" fear arises when we must protect ourselves; "other" fear is unnecessary and only paralyzes us from living as fully, capably and enjoyably as we can.

It's important that we learn how to make ourselves feel safe enough to make it through every subsequent step we must take to get where we want to go.

Those who are deeply spiritual - as am I - believe that we are intended to live courageously. I guess it's because I basically feel safe; I don't feel alone and have a deep, abiding belief that I can handle anything thrown at me by life because I don't feel alone.

But like everyone, I have fears; I just choose to move through them to see what's on the other side. My greatest fear is that I will one day fail to live courageously by not recognizing a fear within me.

When it comes to fear, what do you believe?

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