We all get afraid. That’s just part of being human. If you feel no fear, you’re deceiving yourself. Which none of us do, right? J
Of course we all also know the Victor Hugo quote, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the mastery of it.” We know that.
But it’s in that mastery where the demons lie.
Our first response to a fearful situation is to flee. It’s just encoded in our DNA, and kept us from being eaten by Wooly Mammoths. At the time that served us well. But unless you’re in the wilds of Borneo or the African jungle hunting lions, fear probably isn’t in response to some actual beast trying to eat you.
It lives instead in your mind.
And man, can I ever get afraid. So many things could go wrong, no? I have a litter due Easter Sunday. Gulp! And while this sounds enchanting to those not used to having puppies, to those of us who are, well, the monsters living down that road seem so menacing with their jagged teeth. What if we get into trouble? Of any sort? Not a vet on the planet (or at least none of those I trust!) will be available. Nope, they’ll be hiding Easter eggs, or at Sunday service, or dining with their families at the country club, or . . .
See where my mind goes?
And while this isn’t world peace, it’s not someone I love being diagnosed with cancer, it’s not any of the things we normally think of as the “biggies,” my girls are my kids and I love them into my soul.
As my friends can tell you, I worry about them one way or the other anyway.
But what we all know is that we have to face fear, or it grows into a snarling demon in the night. A “stuffed” fear never dies. If kept in the dark, locked in the closet, swept under the rug, it feeds like a cockroach to grow into Kafka-like proportions. Talk about a nightmare coming to life!
So when a fear like this arises, what can we do? 3 things always help me:
- Dissect the fear. How likely is it to occur? In this very case, not likely. Anything can But one thing I know for true is that of the ten fears coming down the road toward you, eight of them will fall in the ditch before reaching you. At least one will turn out to be a mirage. And the last one may even be friendly in the end.
- Focus on the one that actually might occur. Once the likelihood gets figured out, and I can see those nasty contingencies that could occur, I can then better see what’s plain fear, and what’s a possibility. And that makes me feel calmer. Because then I can:
- Make a plan. I mean, we’re not resource less, right? We’ve faced fears before. Faced other demons in the night. Been down a road or two, if not this very one. Contingency plans can be mapped out. In my case with Siren’s whelping, my vets do know me (probably better than they wish!). I have their cell-phone numbers. My wonderful repro vet told me when we confirmed pregnancy that he’ll be around. Whew! And I’ll have all the supplies I can possibly use in case the worst happens. Anything more than that will require a vet!
But having a plan brings calm and resolve. Which lends itself to clear-headedness. Which when facing any fear, is simply paramount.
Fear comes down to feeling inadequate. That we won’t measure up to whatever task lies before us. And we all have those feelings of inadequacy, whether admitted or not.
And doing those 3 things helps me to remember that I’ve conquered mountains before, and lived to tell the tale.
I love the poet Tagore’s digging to the depths of it: “Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it.”
In other words, help me to live life.
And wish us luck!