“Fears become us, or rather we become them, if we don’t put them in their place. The more I cling to having to ‘be okay,’ the farther from ‘okay’ I will be.” –April Dawn Ricchuito
The opposite of freedom is not enslavement. The opposite of freedom is fear. Fear is crippling. It’s all-encompassing. It’s paralyzing. I am strong, but fear has the power to control me. When I let fear take the wheel, I am giving up a valued life. I am looking on as all of my core beliefs are wrapped around and strangled by something unworthy of all my energy. And that’s just it– what we fear only has power if we give it power. All of our mental energy has to go somewhere. We can either focus it on things that will build us up and enrich our core, or we can hand it over to something else–arguably the much easier task.
We are most susceptible to fear when our lives are out of balance. To find stability, we reach out for something, anything, that resembles control. Fear is the most dominating emotion, one that easily relieves us of our scary instability and replaces it with something that paralyzes us, keeping us stuck in one place. Emphasis on stuck. Yes, we may be grounded, but we can’t move forward. The fear works its way into every fiber of our being, controlling our every move so that even every thought we think is focused on avoiding, running, hiding, clinging, submitting.
In essence, fear gives us a motive. Something that looks very enticing to those who feel lost. Our task is to not let fear creep in through the cracks in our armor–armor that is built not of steel but of our core values and beliefs. Those are what keep us truly whole.
But what if fear has already taken hold? As hard as it may be, the only weapon strong enough to demolish it is opposite action. What is fear telling you to do? Do the opposite. As Dr. Brene Brown said, “We’re all afraid. We just have to get to the point where we understand it doesn’t mean that we can’t also be brave.” True strength lies in facing Fear head on and deliberately denying it. “No, you can’t have me today.” This releases you to focus your energy elsewhere. You may feel vulnerable, but in fact you are just more open to what your life has to offer.
And that, folks, is freedom.