For much of my younger life, I made decisions based not on what I really wanted, but on what outcomes I feared least. I was afraid to be alone, so I married a man who was not a good match for me. Deep down I knew better while I hoped for the best. Years later, I was afraid for my family’s financial security, so I accepted a position that required me to travel overnight away from my children, even though what I wanted most was to stay with them every minute. Most of my adult life, I was afraid that I would fail as an entrepreneur, so I didn’t take the risk that was required. In each of these situations, I chose against what would make me happy as I chose what I hoped would keep me safe. I was afraid to fly, so I didn’t unfold my proverbial wings. It seemed safer on the ground.
The concept of fear has come up several times this week in my work with my clients. Clients frequently tell me that they are afraid of becoming labeled as a person with diabetes, afraid of becoming dependent on taking medicine, and afraid of taking insulin shots. Some clients are afraid of what they will do without their extra weight; it serves to insulate them from the world. Some clients fear the loss of their youth. Some fear the loss of their independence and others fear that their body won’t be able to handle the demands of increased activity. For many people, physical health is closely tied to emotional well being.
I still have fear and I have not yet learned to overcome it. It’s with me most of the time; an uninvited younger sibling who tags along on almost every outing. Fear can be useful. It calls out a warning, like a parent ever-present in the back of my mind. Sometimes I heed the warning. Sometimes, I leave fear on the ground, and then I step off the ledge, spread my wings and fly. I know now what I didn’t know then: that the best decisions are born out of love, not fear. Fear just can’t leave the ground. If we try to fly and fail, we’re only right back where we started from. If we succeed, the view from up there promises to be breathtaking.