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What Are You AFRAID Of?


Fear is defined as “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat”.  Doesn’t sound like something you would want to share, does it?  Yet, share it we do, almost daily; without even realizing it or consciously admitting it, we teach our children to be afraid, to be fearful. 

No one is born afraid; fears are learned, taught from a young age, by loving and well meaning fearful adults.   Examined more closely, we project our own fears onto our children, while we tell ourselves, that we do it out of love, to keep them safe, to guide them away from danger, to keep them well, to save them.  When in fact, what we are most often doing, is instilling doubt, fear, worry, anxiety, and caution, becoming their not so ‘little voice’.  

We teach them not to go to the edge, not to talk to strangers, not to watch that movie, and that it’s too dark outside to see; too cold to go out, too dangerous to play, too hard to do, too far to travel, too difficult to understand, too strange to be wonderful.   

Why is it that instead of celebrating their sense of adventure, of wonder, their fearlessness, we move them down another path; safer, less obstacles, cleaner, clearer, with more light, and more tracks, one that’s more often traveled.  We tell them to wait; they are too young, too small, too new, too inexperienced, not big enough, not smart enough, and not old enough.  Do we know more or do we fear more?

What if instead, we shone a light on that which is dark, slept under the stars and watched the morning bring the light back. What if darkness was just the opposite of lightness, if sunset was as beautiful as sunrise, if not seeing didn’t mean not believing. And what if we changed our go to answer to yes instead of no, what if we cleared the way more than we cautioned.

What if instead of coming from a fearful place, a place of scarcity, we came from a place of abundance, of understanding, of education, of courage.  What if we walked the road with them instead of trying to change their direction?  What if we provided security, taught them how to do it safely, how to wear the equipment, to take the lessons, and to understand it, to learn to do it well.  What if we answered the questions instead of changing the subject?

What if we explained the news and the scary movie, how some things happen and some things are made to happen, what if we taught them to chase their nightmares and capture their dreams.  What if we left fear behind and explained caution and care, what if it was more about information and less about our own emotions.  What if we explained what happens when you go too fast, fall over the edge, don’t look both ways, trust someone who is not worthy; what if we provided clarity instead of worrying about calamity?

What if every opportunity was a chance to trust their knowledge, applaud their curiosity, increase their level of understanding, teach them about the possibility and about the probability.  What if they understood what happens when you fall, when you break, when you are scared, and when you are in pain? What if we were honest; not everything can be fixed, not everyone finds their way back, and everything will not always be ok.  What if they knew about cause and effect, about the consequences that come from the circumstances, how the message is sent to be heard and that sometimes you just need to listen harder?   

And what if we believed in them, understood their need to explore and know more.  What if we truly learned to surrender, to that which is in the moment, is not within our control, is bigger than all of us, happening for a reason, and can’t be changed, whether we like it or truly understand.  What if we chose to walk a path of grace.

What if we were more afraid of living a small life than living large, what if not doing something was more frightening than trying something new.  What if we understood that we are all on our own journey and that while we walk alongside our children, they truly travel alone.   And what if we learned to stand before them making space for them to move forward instead of standing behind them, waiting to catch their fall.