What are you afraid of?
Friday night my wife, Donna Lee, and I went to see the much acclaimed movie “Gravity.” I didn’t know what to expect. It is basically a 3- man show. The previews made it look a little slow. I wasn’t sure it would be all that entertaining. Instead of being unentertaining, it is one of the most gripping, engaging 3D movies I've ever seen. Donna Lee said she held her breath for 90 minutes. We were aghast as we watched the astronauts, played by Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, float away from their space station into outer space completely detached from their tethers. It's hard to imagine anything more terrifying.
The movie enforces how I've endeavored to describe the role fear plays in our lives - our fear of change, our fear of doing new things we are unsure of. When I've asked groups over the years why we are afraid of trying new things, why we are afraid to step outside of our comfort zone, the answer I usually get is, “We are afraid of failure.” I've never believed this. After all, anything we tried to do for the first time that could be rewarding, we didn’t do that well; our first attempts to walk resulted in falling down; our first attempt to ride a bicycle resulted in failure; our first attempt to swim, doing almost anything new and unusual that was challenging resulted in failure. I say we are not afraid of failure. What are we afraid of then? Understanding the answer to this question could change your life forever. We are afraid of the reaction of others if and when we fail. We are afraid of being laughed at, afraid of ridicule, afraid of criticism and belittlement. Our ultimate fear is the fear of rejection, but not rejection as we normally think of it. No, we are afraid of everyone turning their backs on us and walking away, leaving us alone - the fear of banishment, the fear of being rejected from the flock as in
Jonathan Livingston Seagull - the fear of being all alone as if we're drifting in outer space without a tether. The kind of stark terror we may have experienced when, as a child, we were lost at the county fair, the theme park or department store. As you read these ideas, they may sound absurd; there's no logic to anything I've said here. Fears, our fears, are not based on logic.
When you come to the place of setting aside your fears, of being truly fearless, you live a life of poise and confidence. When you come to the place of knowing you are loved, valued, appreciated and needed, you can relax, let down your guard, let go of your defensiveness. When you are, at last, secure in the knowledge that you are loved and accepted with nothing to prove, you will be the most empowering person on earth.
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