“Be afraid! Be very afraid!”
These are the words my young student sometimes said as she walked towards the carpet in the morning. The finale? The huge grin on her face as she looked at me for my reaction. These were probably words her older siblings said to her while they were playing games such as “monster” or “tag”.
And I think this should be our treatment of fear – acknowledge it, and then grin at it. Being afraid often paralyses us and prevents us from acting, from moving forward. We allow the fear to grip us, to bind our actions and movements so that we become passive onlookers. Our fear takes on the dimensions of the unknown in horror movies. We scream internally, afraid to step forward, or to step back.
And yet if we acknowledge and respond as we do in the game we play with children, our fear would take on less importance. It would still be there as we are experiencing the moment; but it would not paralyse us and prevent us from moving forward in our lives.
Often now, when I think of fear, and of being afraid, I think of a grinning six year old girl with long pigtails approaching me with the stance of Frankenstein. I cannot help but smile, and feel the fear lessen its tight hold just a little.
What do you think of when you are afraid?
© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013