“‘Because,’ she said, ‘when you’re scared but you still do it anyway, that’s brave.’”
~ Neil Gaman, Coraline
Have you ever experienced an irrational fear?
A fear that violates the logic running through your brain, but still has the ability to terrorize your heart?
A fear that paralyzes your ability to pursue something of importance?
I suspect we all have. I know I have.
And I think it has to do with the powerful fictions fear creates in our minds. The fear we feel presents us with a vision of a future that we do not want to occupy. Fear tells us the story of our failures yet to come–failures to achieve, failures to fulfill, failures to escape, failures to protect, failures to survive.
These are powerful fantasies, because they are narrated by the force of our emotions. They are told by the sadness, regret, humiliation, horror, and despair that we would feel if those fictions were to become our realities. They bias us to expect certain outcomes.
Our fears, in other words, often masquerade as non-fictions. Drawing on our insecurities for inspiration, they play out like Hollywood films that are loosely “based on true stories.” They highlight our negative experiences and exclude the positive ones.
Fascinated by these compelling adaptations of our realities, we become convinced of their truth.
This is unfortunate, because when we let our fears author the decisions of our lives we limit our imaginations to one vision of the future. We fail to see alternative possibilities. We miss out on the stories written by other emotions–like courage.
I don’t think it is a coincidence that horror stories often double as “courage” stories.
When confronted with something scary, we can choose to run, hide, and avoid it, or we can stare it down as we steadily pursue the course we have set for ourselves.
At the time, it might not feel like the most sensible thing to do. However, it is not until we violate the logic of fear that we are free from its constraints.
Sometimes, what feels like the most nonsensical thing is actually the most sensible thing.
At least, that is what I tell myself when my mind is tempted to read the latest fiction concocted by my fears.
Because, deep down, I know that my imagination can write better than that!
Happy writing everyone!