I recently saw a picture on Facebook with red words on a white sign: “Please Do Not Feed the Fears” (like one you would see at a zoo).
I used to feed my fears very well. My fears were fat, well-fed, let me tell you. I used to shop at Whole Foods for them, making sure they got only the best.
I thought my fears deserved a whole lot of my attention; my fears were spoiled brats! They got to run the household.
The thing is, I thought they were real and then I treated them like they were real and then sometimes made them real.
A friend suggested a fantastic visualization. Fears will always knock at your door, at your windows, try to climb down your chimney, hang out on your fire escape. Mine were often in the form of the concerned neighbor. I don’t have to always let in the concerned neighbor. After a while of not letting him or her in, he or she gets the hint and stops coming by.
But, even if I let her in, I can just let her in for afternoon tea and after 30 minutes, can ask her to leave, as I have errands to run before dinner. Sometimes, I realize that my concerned neighbor has become a house guest with no confirmed departure date. Yes, it is more uncomfortable to part with such a guest, but it’s still possible to send him packing, even if you have to pack his bags for him and drag him out of bed. No need to stand on ceremony with a guest of that type.
At points, I’ve realized that I have fears that are so insidious that they’ve morphed into termites and are trying to eat my house down to the ground. My friend reminded me that if that was happening to my actual home, I would be all over that “like a machine gun,” calling professionals and doing everything within my power to eradicate the termites and protect my house. She suggested I take the same effort and single-mindedness to eradicate the fears that had invaded my foundation and were eating it away.
Because the thing is, fears bite.
The featured image is “The Last Judgment” by Hieronymus Bosh, painted after 1482. All works of Hieronymus Bosch (1450’s -1516) are in the public domain.