Fear Is A Storyteller

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I had a hard time learning to read when I was young. My parents didn’t know what to do about it. We eventually discovered that I needed glasses and vision therapy to train my eyes and brain to work together well. I ended up learning to read well. But, because of my initial difficulties, I had a hard time getting up the courage to read out loud.

All the way into college I would avoid reading out loud in class. If I was called on, I would get tense. My words would be labored. I was afraid of messing up or mispronouncing something. I would work so hard on every word that I wouldn’t retain the meaning of what I was reading— which just lead to poor inflection and further difficulty.

Fear is a storyteller.

Your fear retells you the experiences you’ve had in the past when you get close to a similar experience. Its main objective is to protect you from places where you’ve been hurt.

I love that about fear.

I love that my fear wants to keep me safe.

What fear doesn’t know is that you’ve grown a lot since many of these events took place.

I can handle a lot more than I used to be able to handle, but my fear might not know that.

For a long time, my fear of reading aloud kept me from trying it. Eventually I faced this fear and practiced a bit with the help of Stacia, my oh-so-patient best-friend (and wife). It turns out that I can read just fine, and with practice discovered that I really enjoy it!

Fear tries to protect you. The problem is that your fear is over protective.[tweet that]

So be grateful for your fear. Give it the respect it deserves. Thank it for the warning, and continue on.

In the comments, have you ever had a similar experience with fear? What’s it like for you when fear gets the best of you?


PS- This blog post was adapted from one of the daily prompts for #FearlessFebruary— a social project to help you face your fears and take personal, meaningful risks in the month of February. The month is not yet half over. We’d love to have you join us.

Dan Cumberland is on a mission to push you into the places meaning, life, & work intersect. He is the author of The Meaning Manifesto. Read more about him here, and connect with him on facebook and twitter.

There Are 3 Comments On This Post.

  1. I don’t know if it goes so far as fear, but I have an issue with eye contact. I find it extremely uncomfortable, less so with people I know, but with strangers I don’t understand why they’re looking at me. When they go beyond and then start talking to me, I freeze up. I am trying to work on it, but my natural response is to flee.

    • Thanks for reading and responding, Sophie! I’d call this fear. I’d be curious to explore what experiences and stories are around being looked at or seen for you? Maybe there’s something there to explore? I’d also call your comment here courage! Way to be open and vulnerable!

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