Are you afraid?

Many years ago, a very wise person who was listening to me talk about some problem I was wrestling stopped me and said, “Why are you holding your breath?”

I’ll never forget that question. It was a pivot point in my life — one of those moments which mark the end of one thing and the beginning of something else. I had, before that day, believed that I was a brave person. But the moment I stopped holding my breath, feelings I’d been pushing down for years suddenly rose up in all their demonic magnificence.

I was terrified. I was a quivering coward. Those “brave” acts of mine — the time I’d quit college, the leaps I’d made into relationships — they were covers, they were things I’d done not because I was brave but in order to hide my fear from myself.

I’ve had throughout my life what I refer to as moments of bravado — a sudden urge to push myself beyond my fear in some big way.

That’s from a lovely and insightful essay on fear (and also btw on love) by Jana Richman in the New York Times.

I would add this: fear is a function of the physical body, in many ways. Many of us tend to live so much in our heads that we forget this. It’s important to pay attention to the body, and to calm it the way you would a child or a pet. It helps . . .

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2 Responses to Are you afraid?

  1. Utenzi says:

    The body and its glands have a strong bearing on the way our mind operates. It can be a very interesting interaction when feedback loops are operating.

  2. Kirsten says:

    Candace Pert, in “Molecules of Emotion,” wrote that the body is the subconscious.

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