The Opposite of Fear
By Kim McDonald
“My friend Maud once said, ‘There are times when we must speak,
not because you are going to change the other person,
but because if you don’t speak, they have changed you.’
Silence doesn’t change the world. It changes us. It shrinks us. It takes our stories and feelings away from us and buries them alive. Unearth what is buried within you. Free yourself in this way.”
-Cleo Wade, author, community builder, poet
Fear, whether real or perceived, wants to silence us. To silence something is to take away its potential, purpose and light. To keep silent about our story, our struggles and pain is to hold a burden we weren’t meant to bear alone.
There is no kindness, hope or love in fear. It is void of all things that make us, humans, stronger and more capable of growth. But what exactly is fear? Better yet, how can we recognize, fight and conquer it?
What is fear?
• Fear is a virus. The NCBI (National Center for Biotechnogy Information) defines a virus as “A small parasite that cannot reproduce by itself. Once it infects a susceptible cell, however, a virus can direct the cell machinery to produce more viruses.” Fear operates in the same way. It may start out small yet before we know it, it has infected other areas in our life until we are filled with fear and left immobilized.
• Fear is contagious. It spreads from person to person whether intentionally or unintentionally. Fear can be taught from one generation to the next. Fear does not discriminate, as it will infect another living host in order to spread its poison and damage.
• Fear is out to destroy. It is not looking out for your best interest nor is it rooting for your success. Fear, like a virus, operates in a similar way to what the National Human Genome Research Institute defines as a virus – “Viruses must infect cells and use components of the host cell to make copies of themselves. Often, they kill the host cell in the process, and cause damage to the host organism”.
How do we fight fear?
First, fear cannot be conquered by more fear. Author Rick Warren stated, “We don’t fight fire with more fire.” We fight fire with water. We don’t fight fear with more fear. We fight with the opposite of fear, love.
Second we must believe that fear, like fire, can be quenched. Just as a fire roars from the provisions of heat, oxygen and fuel, fear can be quenched with elements such as love, compassion, kindness, justice, acceptance of self and others and grace, to name just a few. These elements won’t allow the burning process to continue.
How do we conquer fear?
It begins with you. As Cleo Wade beautifully wrote, “…because if you don’t speak, they have changed you.” Do not let your motivation be the other person. Instead, may your motivation be the opportunity for your story and your feelings to be said in order to bring light into the world.
Here is a simple hope-focused, practical way to begin:
1. Identify the fear. What am I truly afraid of? Is this fear real or perceived? (Ex/ I am fearful that _____. I am fearful of____ .) When we identify the root of the fear, we find power in the realization, calling a spade a spade.
2. Claim your hope. What do you want to experience instead? What would you rather savor in your life? (Ex/ I want to experience more ____ in my life. I want to savor more ______.)
3. Act on your hope. Act on what you long to savor in your life. Do you want more kindness or goodness? Do you want more understanding and compassion? Provide that for yourself and others. Be a person to whom another person can experience kindness and compassion. Be that person to whom someone can savor the feeling of being loved.
Once we are able to recognize, fight and conquer fear then the stories of our life are free to fulfill their purpose of bringing inspiration to our world.