The Real Fear Factor

looking upOn Friday, I sat near the top of Seneca Rocks watching rock climbers scale sheer cliffs then rappel down.

rapelling 3They were only yards from where I sat, so I could hear the conversations as they spotted each other. And even though they were speaking in English, they were speaking in a foreign language to me.

They embraced danger.

I was avoiding it.Seneca Rocks

After hiking almost to the top, I told my kids not to walk along the ridge or the narrow trails others were carefully navigating. I imagined how a mere slip could result in disaster, and the signs warning about the number of people who had died on Seneca Rocks didn’t help. They simply fed my fear.

Later, as we were driving home, I thought about my fear.

And I realize that one word “my” said it all.

To me, fear is all about the risk of physical or emotional harm to me or someone I love. I identify that risk and then I do everything I can to avoid it.

That’s how I operate.

Apparently, others operate differently.

My friends tell me that some people don’t analyze their behavior as much as I do.They say most people don’t even know when they are afraid. Instead, they just think they are angry.

Lately, I’ve been debating whether I agree. I never used to think my anger stemmed from fear.

I get angry at injustice when people aren’t treated fairly. Am I afraid that I too can be a victim of injustice?

I get angry when incompetent people are allowed to continue in their jobs despite their ineffectiveness. Am I afraid that my hard work is pointless?

I get angry when people blame me for their inability to be effective. Am I afraid that others will believe them?

My answers to all these questions is”maybe.” But I’ve begun to realize the question shouldn’t be if my anger is rooted in fear. The real question is: “If I am afraid, how do I deal with that fear?”

I can either face it, like the rock climbers do.

I can avoid it, like I did when sitting on the cliffs.

Or I can learn to turn it into something meaningful.

And that choice is the real fear factor.

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About Trina Bartlett

I live in the Eastern Panhandle of WV, with one dog, two cats, a daughter in high school, a son starting his latest adventures at West Virginia University and a husband who works strange hours. When I'm not working as a director at a nonprofit social service organization or being a mom, I can generally be found riding my bike, walking my dog and stirring things up.

Posted on April 21, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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