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I can talk about fear quite easily because it's been such a dominant part of my life -- actually a driving force behind many of my actions (and inaction) for all of the years the I've been on this planet.  Fear has been with me since early childhood and the fear of getting in trouble or the fear of a spanking, through my adolescent years with the fear of doing something wrong and the fear of rejection, and through my adult years, and the fear of being alone and the fear of things falling apart out of my control, though I'm happy to say that the fear has diminished a great deal over the last few years.

I've come to learn that fear's kind of silly in most situations.  It does little except make me nervous and aggravated, but it doesn't change the situation at all.  Now, if fear actually helped I'd be all for it, but it usually doesn't do much good at all.  It's the result of unrealistic expectations, and there are those who believe that we aren't actually afraid of situations or people themselves, but of what we consider those situations or people to be.  In other words, we create our own fears through the way that we look at the world and the way that we see things.  If we see something as a threat, we feel fear; if we see that same thing as a challenge, the fear becomes thoughts of how to overcome that challenge.

We see this principle in action in athletics all the time.  How often have we seen someone conquer his or her fear and perform wonderfully in sports?

We give our children pep talks and tell them that even though they may be afraid to get out there and play, they'll never know how well they could do if they don't at least try.  And if they trust us, they'll take us at our word and go and try, usually finding out that it isn't nearly as bad as they thought it was.

We have an awesome power as parents and adult role models to help kids get over their fears if we want to help them in that way, and in that power is a great responsibility.

We adults also have plenty of people in our lives who try to help us by encouraging us to face our fears, but since we're their peers, we usually don't allow them to have the same power of authority over us.  My co-worker or wife can encourage me all they want, but I'm an adult now, and they don't know any better than I what's good for me.  So except in certain situations, I'll listen to their input, but I'll act on what I know to be true.   In this way, fear keeps its hold on us.

Fear also can be self-sustaining.  If I'm afraid to make friends, my fear will cause me to do very poorly when I finally do try to do so.  Because I do poorly, the situation is extremely awkward and difficult, and chances are very good that I'll fail in my attempt.  Because of the failure, my fear grows, and my chances of success the next time are even slimmer.

In many ways, fear is a form of a lack of faith, and those who feel a great deal of fear aren't trusting life or their God to be with them.  Of course, I'm not talking about the kind of fear that we feel when a car comes careening around a corner right at us at sixty miles an hour--that's an instinctive, reflexive fear over which we have no control at all.  But the fear that keeps us from helping other people, from improving ourselves and starting school again, from giving of ourselves for fear of rejection, from sharing our feelings for fear of ridicule--these fears show that we're not willing to trust that even if there is rejection or ridicule or failure, God will be there with us and for us, giving us the support that we need to deal with those fears.

Many of our fears-- the fear that a relationship will end, the fear that we'll lose our jobs, the fear that the world will end tomorrow-- are fears that have been with us since our very young years, caused by some sort of lacking in our childhood.  It could have been the lack of a trustworthy adult role model, or the lack of intimacy, or the lack of a stable place to live, but whatever the cause, it has stayed with us and makes our lives difficult today.  Adult children of alcoholics or of gamblers, for example, have very strong issues with fear, and it's a lot of work--spiritually, emotionally, and mentally--to overcome the fears that have been built over years.

The most important thing that we can do about our fears is to acknowledge them, and then take steps to understand them and their sources.  Once we take this step, we can work to overcome them.  Fears are our way of keeping ourselves "safe," but the safety brought about by fears is the false safety that we could get by locking ourselves alone in a small room for the rest of our lives.  We wouldn't ever catch the flu again or get hit by a car or face rejection, but we also never would grow into the people we were meant to be.

All of us must face rejection, failure, pain, humiliation, the anger of others, and many other unpleasant aspects of life.  Dealing with these adversities, though, is what helps us to develop our characters and define who we are.  If we listen to and obey our fears, we'll never find out just how strong and admirable our character may grow to be.


When you are frightened, you typically pull energy in to your center,
seeing less, hearing less--shrinking consciousness precisely
when you need to expand it.

Nathaniel Branden
Self-Esteem Every Day


It is not that you must be free from fear.  The moment you try
to free yourself from fear, you create a resistance against fear.
Resistance, in any form, does not end fear.  What is needed,
rather than running away or controlling or suppressing or any
other resistance, is understanding fear; that means, watch it,
learn about it, come directly into contact with it.  We are to
learn about fear, not how to escape from it, not how to
resist it through courage and so on.

J. Krishnamurti


Everything on earth gives cause for fear,
and the only freedom from fear is to be found
in the renunciation of all desire.



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Fear can infect us early in life until eventually it cuts a deep groove
of apprehension in all our thinking.  To counteract it, let faith,
hope and courage enter your thinking.
Fear is strong, but faith is stronger yet.

Norman Vincent Peale

It is our very fear of the future that distorts the now that could
lead to a different future if we dared to be whole in the present.

Marion Woodman


You gain strength, experience, and confidence by every experience
where you really stop to look fear in the face. . . .
You must do the thing you think you cannot do.

Eleanor Roosevelt


Nothing in life is to be feared.
It is only to be understood.

Marie Curie

Fears are educated into us and can,
if we wish, be educated out.

Karl A. Menninger


There is a time to take counsel of your fears,
and there is a time to never listen to any fear.

George S. Patton



If you let your fear of consequence prevent you from following
your deepest instinct, your life will be safe, expedient, and thin.

Katharine Butler Hathaway

Fear is like fire.  If controlled it will help you; if uncontrolled, it will
rise up and destroy you.  People's actions depend to a great extent
upon fear.  We do things either because we enjoy doing them or
because we are afraid not to do them.

John F. Milburn


Fear is like a little garden spider that makes us jump back or the poor lost bee on the
steering wheel that we blame for our automobile wreck.  The problem in fear
is our response -- the way we treat animals or insects that frighten us. . . . Fear is also
the universal scapegoat we blame when we take flight from intimacy or shrink up
inside ourselves in a thousand little ways.

Dan Millman



No passion so effectively robs the mind of all its powers
of acting and reasoning as fear.

Edmund Burke


To be ambitious for wealth, and yet always expecting to be poor, to be
always doubting your ability to get what you long for, is like trying to
reach east by traveling west. . . . No matter how hard you work for success,
if your thought is saturated with the fear of failure, it will kill your efforts,
neutralize your endeavors, and make success impossible.

Charles Baudouin


The fearful are caught as often as the bold.

Helen Keller

Your fears stand between you and what you want.
They're worth facing!

Stephen C. Paul

The earth becomes heaven when you release your fear.

The main thing in life is not to be afraid of being human.

Pau Casals


It is very often asserted that fear is destructive.  Yet this is not
entirely true; when fear is felt about things that truly threaten
security, it is protective.  It is very fortunate that humans have
an almost unlimited capacity for learning fears; otherwise
we would have been eliminated long ago.

Smiley Blanton


Fear of trouble, present and future, often blinds us to the numerous
small blessings we enjoy, silencing our prayers of praise and thanksgiving.


The single most empowering thing we can do for ourselves is to transform fear.
While fear contains tremendous power, it doesn't propel us forward and upward,
but, rather, drags us down and chains us to the past.  Freeing ourselves from fear is
a loving intention because, as fear subsides, we are better able to access the soft,
sweet power of our hearts, which naturally leads to loving
ourselves and others more freely and completely.

Sue Patton Thoele


Fear and lack of faith go hand in hand. The one is born of the other.
Tell me how much one is given to fear, and I will tell you how much
that person lacks in faith. Fear is a most expensive guest to entertain,
the same as worry is: so expensive are they that no one can afford to
entertain them. We invite what we fear, the same as, by a different
attitude of mind, we invite and attract the influences
and conditions we desire.

Ralph Waldo Trine
"Thought I Met on the Highway"


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We are all afraid of something.  But that shouldn't stop us from going on
every day.  We should not always walk in fear of the shadow while we are
in the light.  It is certain we will not know when or how the difficult and bad
times will come, but if we accept that they will come, then they are easier
to face when they do.
   And always remember that anything that causes the shadow
is smaller than the source of light.

Joseph M. Marshall III


Fear keeps us rooted in the past.  Fear of the unknown, fear of
abandonment, fear of rejection, fear of not having enough, fear
of not being enough, fear of the future--all these fears and more
keep us trapped, repeating the same old patterns and making the
same choices over and over again.  Fear prevents us from moving
outside the comfort--or even the familiar discomfort--of what we
know.  It's nearly impossible to achieve our highest vision for
our lives as long as we are being guided by our fears.

Debbie Ford


One of the recurring statements of most philosophers and religions is that
life is not scary.  You'll find yourself wanting to stop because of fear.
You may want to ask for a date, or a raise, or for a loan, but fear will often
stop you.  The big secret is that there is nothing to fear.  This will be hard
to accept because of your mind, which will terrify you with scenarios to
make you afraid.  Be not afraid.  Do the thing you wish,
and walk through the fire.  On the other side is freedom.

Joe Vitale
Life's Missing Instruction Manual

Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Fear is a question.  What are you afraid of and why?  Our fears
are a treasure house of self-knowledge if we explore them.

Marilyn Ferguson


Anger is a response that can lead to harm if we don't evaluate
what we are upset about.  Ask yourself what you are afraid of,
as anger is almost always fear in disguise.  If we think something
or someone threatens us, we feel fear--fear that we are inadequate,
that our lives are out of control, that things won't go our way.
Then we fight.  Find out what you're upset about.  We rarely are
upset for the reason we think.

Jennifer James


Fear tastes like a rusty knife and do not let her into your house.

John Cheever

Who is more foolish, the child afraid of the dark
or the man afraid of the Light?

Maurice Freehill



I know a lot of people who are healthier at age fifty than they've
ever been before, because a lot of their fear is gone.

Robert Bly

All manifestation of fear is a reflection of the fact that humanity has
forgotten its spiritual identity.  In beginning to remember it, we put
fear on notice that its days are numbered.

Marianne Williamson

How is your life limited by your fear?  What are you not doing that you'd
really like to do?  When we use fear to our advantage by tackling those
things that evoke a sense of excitement and trepidation, fear becomes and
ally.  Each experience provides a challenge and an opportunity to expand
your comfort zone.  The way to create an extraordinary life is to make
the challenge of fear work for you by building your courage muscles.

Cheryl Richardson
Stand up for Your Life


What would it be like to open our hearts to our fear, to befriend it with
wonder, as one would a deer in the forest?  What if you could bring
it right into the hearth of your awareness instead of ignoring it and thus
allowing it to become an undifferentiated mass of demons that gang up
on your in the murk?  Stuffed behind walls, fear becomes a horde--the
Demons of Doubt who will trample you under stories of what others
think, of your endless failures, impending humiliation, and lost control.
Together and ignored, they will drive you out of your own life.  But when
you invite them into the layered light of your awareness, they can't
join together and rule you from the shadows.

Dawna Markova


Denying fear only feeds it and encourages its greedy appetite.  Sometimes
we're reluctant to face a fear and give it a name or shape.  It's as if an
admission of being frightened will set the fear and all that comes with it
into motion.  When we don't face our fears, we risk creating a big lie by
telling ourselves we're not afraid.  If you've ever done this, you know
how much energy it takes to beat the fear into submission
and bury it without destroying it.

Leslie Levine
Ice Cream for Breakfast

All of us experience fear, but when we confront and acknowledge it,
we are able to turn it into courage.  Being courageous does not mean
never being scared; it means acting as you know you must
even though you are undeniably afraid.

Desmond Tutu


Fear is so fundamental to the human condition that all the great
spiritual traditions originate in an effort to overcome its effects on
our lives.  With different words, they all proclaim the same core
message:  "Be not afraid."  Though the traditions vary widely in
the ways they propose to take us beyond fear, all hold out the
same hope:  we can escape fear's paralysis and enter a state of
grace where encounters with otherness will not threaten us
but will enrich our work and our lives.

Parker J. Palmer
The Courage to Teach

Almost all fear is fear of the unknown. Therefore, what's the remedy?
To become acquainted with the things you fear.

Peace Pilgrim

If you overcome your fear to ask someone for a date, a raise,
or help with a project, that is an act of self-assertiveness.  You
are moving out into life rather than contracting and withdrawing.

Nathaniel Branden
Self-Esteem Every Day


Fear is also F.E.A.R. (False Evidence Appearing Real)--a famous
acronym that sheds the light of understanding on those phantoms of
fear.  There are at least two false premises regarding fear.  First is
the belief that things are as they appear to be.  Increasingly, scientists
are discovering evidence to the contrary.  For example, what seems
to be solid matter is, in fact, composed of patterns of subatomic units
of energy.  Second, the fearful individual assumes that he or she lacks
the resources to handle a tragic situation.  The truth is, courage belongs
not only to the heroes and heroines but can also be developed
within you as you meet life's challenges. . . . When you look fear in the
face, you may see right through it, for, after all, it is often only a phantom!

John Marks Templeton
Worldwide Laws of Life


Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.

Dorothy Thompson

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Part of our mind is bent on love, and part of it is bent on fear.  That
is how consciousness operates.  The loving mind is called the spirit
of God, the Holy Spirit, the Shechina, and many other names.  It is
the holy Self that lies potential within all of us, the mystical drive
to return home.  We always have the choice to align ourselves with
its presence and act accordingly in the world, or give in to fear and,
on some level, die.
   The problem is that the voice of the spirit is not the dominant voice
of the world.  Fear is louder than love here.  It takes conscious effort,
therefore, to go against the voices of the world and to actualize our
spiritual nature.  The fearful mind, or the negative ego, is alive and
well within us and around us, but darkness disappears in the
presence of light.  Fear has no ultimate power in a
situation dedicated through prayer to God.

Marianne Williamson

If you begin to face your fears, something bittersweet is going to happen to you:
You'll grow up.  You'll lose your dependency on the grown-ups of the world,
because you'll realize that there is no time, no age, at which fear suddenly fades
and you become one of these impervious beings.  You'll begin to recognize fear
when you see it, not only in the shivering of a frightened little kid but in the
apparent coldness of a shy person, the viciousness of a bully, the self-importance
of your narcissistic boss.  You'll realize that the difference between success
and failure isn't the absence of fear but the determination to pursue your heart's
desires no matter how scared you are.  Finally you'll realize that fear is the raw
material from which courage is manufactured.  Without it,
we wouldn't even know what it means to be brave.

Martha Beck
Finding Your Own North Star


Fear grows out of the things we think; it lives in our minds.
Compassion grows out of the things we are, and lives in our hearts.

Barbara Garrison

The original Eeyore had at least a certain grim sense of humor, a sort
of funnyness-with-its-lights-turned-out.  Latter-day Eeyores seem to
be missing that.  One thing they do have, however, is fear.  Eeyores
are afraid--afraid to risk positive emotional expression, positive action,
positive involvement in anything beyond Ego.  Those things are stupid,
they say, and they don't want to look stupid.  (They don't seem to mind
looking Paralyzed with Fear--they just don't want to look stupid.)

Benjamin Hoff
The Te of Piglet

I believe it is fear we should be fighting, not the "other."  We all belong to
the same human tribe; that kinship supersedes our differences.

Terry Ahwal
"Finding the Strength to Fight Our Fears"



If my mind didnít cling, I would be totally fearless.  Nothing would frighten
me, because there would be nothing I would be afraid to lose and nothing
I would need to be happy.  But my mind still does cling, so I am sometimes
frightened that I wonít have what I think I need or that Iíll lose what I think
I want.  Itís not such a big problem anymore because fear doesnít frighten
me as much as it used to.  I know itís from clinging, and I know it will pass.
I can tell myself, ďIím frightened now because even though I know whatís
true, I have forgotten it right now.  I know the possibility of remembering
exists.Ē  That possibility, that conviction, gives me a lot of hope
in the middle of the biggest fright.

Sylvia Boorstein
It's Easier Than You Think

If I had to identify one core variable that drives and magnifies our
compulsion to sort ourselves into factions while at the same time
cutting ourselves off from real connection with other people, my
answer would be fear.  Fear of vulnerability.  Fear of getting hurt.
Fear of the pain of disconnection.  Fear of criticism and failure.
Fear of conflict.  Fear of not measuring up.  Fear.

Brenť Brown
Braving the Wilderness

Iíve learned that fear limits you and your vision.  It serves as blinders
to what may be just a few steps down the road for you.  The journey
is valuable, but believing in your talents, your abilities, and your
self-worth can empower you to walk down an even brighter path.
Transforming fear into freedom Ė how great is that?

Soledad OíBrien


It is no accident that all of the world's wisdom traditions address
the fact of fear, for all of them originated in the human struggle
to overcome this ancient enemy.  And all of these traditions,
despite their great diversity, unite in one exhortation
to those who walk in their ways:  "Be not afraid."

Parker J. Palmer
Let Your Life Speak



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