For years now I have repeated the Bene-Gesserit Litany against Fear whenever I realize I am afraid of something. It’s not that you shouldn’t be afraid, fear is a natural response. It’s just that you have to be disciplined in order to overcome your fears. Overcoming fears is something that is a really important part of life. Similar to getting better at something (how do weight lifters get stronger??? they overcome resistance), getting over your fears is just a matter of practicing physically overcoming your resistance do doing that thing. From Will Smith Skydiving to Charlie Day from It’s Always Sunny, there are plenty of inspirational videos out there that suggest exactly this.
Some fears are so deep, so primal, and so much a part of who you are that it’s often more difficult to admit that you are afraid of some things that it would be to confront them. For those fears it often takes a loved one pointing out to you an area of your past or a part of your personality that is stunted and closed off in order for you to realize that you have that deep-seeded fear holding you back. This is part of what makes fears so hard to overcome and what makes finding fellowship such an important part of life.
No matter what history or current interest drives you to be around a set of people, use the bridges people give you to address issues that are big to you. When watching a movie, don’t just think about the powerful memory it brings up in you and the inner conflict you face, mention it to your friends. When you are out for a night of fun at the bar, or just hanging after work, don’t just be content to talk about the easy topics like greasy food, craft beer, and how much you wish the Penguins will lose the second round of the playoffs. Get to that kernel of truth about who you are and what you believe that will help you fight back against your fears. Tell people a story about something you seldom mention because it is too painful. You don’t need to unpack your whole baggage at once, but little by little you can release the pressure of whatever primal fears you are carrying by telling people the stories. It’s not about giving someone the whole crazy that lives in your head (spoiler alert, no one can handle the crazy that lives in your head), it’s about helping share your narrative and what’s important to you. When we share narratives, we can see those little glimpses of gold and ruby and shit decorating everyone’s past. It gives us empathy for others and lets us collectively participate in each other’s progression. In this era of limited mentorship, where we are more likely to rely on peer comments on Instagram than on expert advice from our elders, it’s important that we don’t just lose that mentorship.