Every problem is just fear. I heard this sentence this morning and it sort of lit up the room. I started doing that mental test you do when you hear something that rings true but rattles you at the same time. “It can’t be that simple,” you think. You start running scenarios through your head to prove it’s not the real deal.
But guess what? I might be making a case of t-shirts. Get ready.
Why can’t I finish this book? Because I’m afraid I’m not a good enough writer. Because I’m a perfectionist. (As Elizabeth Gilbert says: “Perfectionism is just fear in really good shoes.”) Because I’m afraid of putting myself out there for all the world to see (and judge.)
Why can’t I lose weight? Because I’m afraid of how hard it will be. Because I’m afraid I’ll miss cookies and cheese. (Duh.) Because I’m afraid of attention, which I hate. Because if I’m afraid that, if I’m not this size, which I’ve been my whole life, then what am I?
What do I want to be when I grow up? I don’t know, and I’m afraid that I don’t know. Not knowing at 24 was scary. Not knowing at 44 is terrifying. I’m afraid the thing I want to do isn’t big enough. I’m afraid I’m running out of time. I’m afraid of leaving this earth having not made a dent.
You get the picture. See if this isn’t true. Think about a problem you have in your life. And then think about what that problem looks like if the fear surrounding it were removed. I’m gonna guess…
So how to conquer the fear? Gilbert suggests we don’t tell it to go away, because it will never go away. Instead, mother it. Crazy? I don’t think so. We mother everything and everyone else. So we acknowledge its presence. We acknowledge it for the wicked little tyrant it is. I envision fear as a cranky toddler. Then we tell it: shhhhh. It’s okay. I hear you. You’ve been so busy today; it’s time to rest.
Here you go: here’s your milk; here’s your teddy. Let me tuck you in. Close your eyes. I’ve already checked under the bed for monsters; it’s all clear. Quiet now. Sleep as long as you like. Mama has things to do.