Experiencing fear is just as normal and healthy as joy and love and happiness and sadness and frustration. Fear is just another emotion. It’s how we respond to fear that is important. Fear can protect us in a healthy way but it can also limit the quality of our lives.
My sweet daughter has a very real and intense fear of dogs. When she was younger she would ask kids at school if they had a pet dog, and if they did she felt that she could not be their friend because she knew she would never be able to go to their house to play because of her fear of dogs. As she got older, it seemed to only become more debilitating to her. It was limiting the quality of her life and robbing her of living even if it was by some small degree. One thing we started doing was to ask her, “How much can you do?” For example, we asked her “How much can you interact with a dog?” And then she’d decide. At first it was looking at pictures of dogs, and then watching shows with dogs in it, and reading about dogs, and watching educational videos about dogs. Every day she was choosing to interact with dogs on higher level. She learned how to lean into her fears at a level that was outside of her comfort zone but where she could still manage her emotions. She learned how to be okay with fear. Leaning into fear is not comfortable, but it is freeing.
Today she approached a dog, she pet a dog, and she had a great experience with a dog. Now, she doesn’t love all dogs, and she still has some fears she is working on. But she has reached a new place in her life. She has leaned into her fears consistently for the past month on a daily basis, and because of this she has now stepped into a greater ability to live life more fully. Not because in order to live life at its fullness you have to love dogs and let them be a part of you life, but because to live life fully you have to learn how to lean into your fears and not let them limit you from living.
Do not let fear rob you from becoming the person you have the potential to become. Learn to lean into you fear and to let that process grow you.