Kicking fear out of the driver’s seat

December 5, 2021 Sandra Dawes

Fear used to be a massive part of my life. Fear of the worst-case scenario would stop me from doing a lot of things I wanted to do. In other cases, it was fear that someone else had that I assumed as my own that would stop me from doing things. It took a long time for me to figure out that not doing things because I was afraid of something terrible happening wouldn’t prevent bad things from happening. The truth is that the more I tried to avoid bad things from happening, the more life tried to teach me that negative experiences were a part of life and there was no escaping them.

Thankfully fear doesn’t have the control it used to have in my life. I can’t remember what Elizabeth Gilbert book I read where she talks about kicking fear out of the driver’s seat in her life, but I remember thinking I liked the sound of that. I don’t think I can rid myself of my fears completely, though I’m sure there’s someone trained in hypnosis that would tell me otherwise. I acknowledge that there’s a place for fear in my life. It keeps me from making crazy choices that could put me in danger. For that reason, I’m not kicking fear out of the car; I’m just asking it to sit in the back and keep the backseat driving to a minimum.

Amazing things have occurred in my life since I stopped allowing fear to take the lead in my life. Playing it safe for fear of what could go wrong if I took a risk left me living an unfulfilled, unrealized life. I knew I could do more and experience a richer life if I didn’t allow my fear of things to stop me. Once I accepted that there was no way I was ever going to be able to prevent bad things from happening since I can’t control everything that happens in my life, things got easier.

I started to realize that even if things didn’t go according to plan, it wouldn’t be the end of the world, and things might actually turn out better than I expected. It reminds me of a story I tell about our dog Lulu that passed a few years ago. She was afraid of water until she was six years old. I had to send her to a groomer for baths because she was so fearful; I felt she thought I would drown her every time I tried to bathe her. That didn’t stop us from going to the water and taking her with us, and we always tried to encourage her to go in the water, but she wouldn’t.

When she was six years old, we took her to a park by Lake Ontario, and she saw a swan in the water. Her curiosity about the swan got her to overcome her fear of water. Before she knew it, her tummy was getting wet, and since we were cheering her on and encouraging her, she started to enjoy it. After that experience, she always wanted to go in the water. The fear of the unknown stopped her from going in the water, and her curiosity about a swan got her to overcome that fear.

If there’s something you want to do, and fear is holding you back from doing it, think about why you want to do the thing that fear is preventing you from doing, and think about how you’ll feel once you do it. Overcoming my fears still isn’t something that I jump at doing, but I do know that when I’ve faced my fears, the other side looks a lot better than I ever envisioned. ♥

january, 2022

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