One day your heart will stop beating and none of your fears will matter. What will matter is how you lived. –Henri Junttila
This Phrase Will Help You Overcome all Your Fears
What is your weakness in life? If I am honest, I know one of my primary growing edges in life is my propensity to be a worry wart. I can still remember a supervisor I had 15 years ago, giving me the sage advice to combat my fears with the mantra, “Go Scared.” He invited me to walk bravely towards places that were out of my comfort zone. The words, “Go Scared” continue to serve as a reminder to me to embrace and face my fears.
I know my tendency to live life from a place of fear is something that I inherited honestly. I grew up with a father who worked as an insurance manager, and because of the insurance claims he processed related to injuries from trampolines, he forbid us from jumping on trampolines. As a child, I jealously watched other kids jump on a trampoline in our neighborhood, with freedom, delight, and reckless abandon.
As luck would have it, when I went away to college, the president of my school invited students to jump on the trampoline at his house. It was pretty liberating when I was finally able to jump with all my might on a trampoline. But until this point, I towed the family safety line and did not jump on trampolines. I’m so glad I chose to jump on this trampoline, as a college freshman, in order to begin the life-long work of overcoming my tendency to live life cautiously.
As I think about my dad’s efforts to keep us safe, I recognize that his cautious approach to life was connected to his own story. When he was just 14 years old, his dad died of lung cancer. He was extremely close to his dad, and so he learned at too early of an age that life can let you down. I believe this painful time in my dad’s life as a teen, led him to understandably develop his own fear narrative, which caused him approach life with more restraint. And in turn, my dad unknowingly passed down to me and my two brothers, an invitation to live life fearfully.
My mom’s life story also forgivably contributed to her own tendency to live life from a place of caution. When she was three years old her dad left, and she only saw him a few more times in her life. To my knowledge, after my mom’s dad left, my grandmother never seriously dated another man again.
How have the stories of your own grandparents and parents informed the way you live?
It is obvious that these experiences could cause both my mom and grandmother to live life from a place of fear, and so it is important to consider how our own family stories contribute to our narratives of fear, anger, shame, and depression.
Many years ago, I was working well over 40 hours a week, serving on several boards in the community and completing a doctoral program. During this time period, I was experiencing significant anxiety and chest pains, to the point that a doctor advised me to wear a heart monitor for three days. It turned out my heart was fine and my GP suspected that stress was the culprit.
At this time, I remember realizing I needed to make a change in my life, but I feared the financial implications of not working full-time. As a woman who prides myself on being strong and independent, it was also scary to let my husband take the reins financially. I have a tendency to over-function in life and in relationships, and it was scary to make a decision that would change the dynamic in my relationship with my husband.
But despite these fears, I made the step forward and decreased my hours and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. As I took a step back in life, my husband took a step up and it completely transformed the pattern in our relationship. For the first time in our marriage, I was no longer over-functioning and I found a place of greater balance and freedom in life. And as you might have guessed, my chest pains vanished!
Our desire to protect ourselves can be both our strength and growing edge, at the same time. My fear is my strength when it acts as an inner safety manager and allows me to protect myself from people and situations that might hurt me. My fear becomes my growing edge when I permit it to keep me from making career and personal choices that are life-giving. Our fear can serve us well in life, as long as we don’t let it control all our decisions.
For just a couple of minutes, I invite you to meditatively consider some important questions. As you ponder your answers to these questions, I invite you to do so with your hand on your heart. Before you ask yourself the first question, allow yourself to feel the beating of your heart. Be mindful that you will experience more abundant life if you move to the other side of fear. Tune into the truth that we only have one beating heart and one life on this earth, and as Henri Juntilla reminds us, it is not your fears and instead, “how you lived” that will ultimately measure your life. Perhaps you might take some deep intentional breaths between each question.
- How have the stories of your own grandparents and parents informed the way you live?
- What scares you most in life?
- How are your fears keeping you from living?
- What would it look like for you to “Go Scared,” and step out of your fear and take a risk in life?
In order to not let fear dominate you, you sometimes have to make a change in your life and “Go scared!”
You can re-write your story and instead of being stuck in a narrative of fear, you can move boldly forward and find your edge in life.
📌Are you willing to move out of the safety of your cocoon and soar into the places that scare you, so you may truly live?