Recently my husband and I went to a family reunion held at a ski resort in Pennsylvania (it was the end of June and there was no snow). He and I rode a chair lift up to the top of the mountain to enjoy the view. I don’t ski and I’ve only been on a ski lift a handful of times. Neither of us heard the mumbling attendant’s instructions to pull the restraining bar over our heads and lock it in place in front of us. So we were riding up the mountain with nothing preventing us from falling out of the moving chair.
Now, the lift was slow and the mountain slope gentle. So we weren’t really in danger. But I Freaked Out. Oh my goodness. I tried to keep from panicking and became quite upset. I should have been reassured by the mountain bikers who were in the seat ahead of us. They weren’t restrained either (and they were holding bikes!). That didn’t help me. I sat there, gripped by fear.
We figured out about the restraining bar when we approached the top and saw a sign about raising the bar. We made sure we were restrained on the ride down. It was much more enjoyable!
My husband, Barry, with his sister, Lori. That's the chair lift in the background. It doesn't look so scary, does it?
Afterward, I realized what an unfamiliar feeling that was. I don’t put myself in a position to be afraid for my physical safety. (So it might not surprise you that I don’t ski. Or skydive. Or race fast cars.) Fear stops me from doing things I consider dangerous. And that’s fine with me.
But fear also stops me from doing other things. In working with my fabulous life coach, Shannon Wilkinson, I’ve learned that I’m driven by a craving for peace and harmony. I’m afraid to do anything that might disrupt it. That’s why I put off tasks that seem like they might be difficult or stressful (which of course makes them more stressful, usually). That’s why I’ll avoid discussions that might be contentious, even if there’s stuff that needs to be discussed.
Sometimes it’s for good—my fear of disharmony does allow me to avoid unpleasantness. But sometimes unpleasantness can’t be avoided and all my fear does is put it off. That’s rarely for the best.
The strange thing is that there are things I’m not afraid of that make other people shake in their boots. Like public speaking. Or starting a new business. Or writing for publication. And I’ll actually fly as a passenger in a glider, since that’s my husband’s hobby.
As I’ve written about before, sometimes decluttering can be really scary. You might be afraid of what you’ll find. Or you might even fear what you’ll do with yourself once clutter stops being a barrier to living. In our e-course, Declutter Happy Hour, Shannon (the aforementioned life coach) and I address head-on the emotions behind the clutter. If your clutter is a scary thing, it just might help.
We all have fears. We can try to live without fear by avoiding anything scary. Or we can try to recognize our fears, face them and get past them when it benefits us. Fear can stop us from doing stupid things. It can also stop us from doing smart things. For me, the key is learning to tell the difference.