When we lose someone whether through death or divorce, one of our biggest fears is realized. When we appreciate that we are still standing, in a sense our loss emboldens us to dream bigger. We are also reminded to be fully present to the joy that is in our lives and not allow our fears to hijack it.
Fear Can Sabotage Joy
Before my marriage ended, my father became ill, and I faced rebuilding my life, I was afraid of losing the life I had. I remember thinking: “Things are going so well, what is going to come along and upset it?” I was worried about doing or saying something that would jinx it. I had allowed fear to become an obstacle to joy. I had also limited my dreaming to clinging to what I had.
Author Marianne Williamson writes, “Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.”
No one is fearless, and feeling fear isn’t a bad thing. It’s when we attempt to either avoid or deny it, or allow it to sabotage our behavior that fear can become an obstacle. And when fear manifests itself as anger, jealousy, contempt or criticism it can isolate us.
Fear Hiding In Anger
My dad’s cancer terrifies my stepmother and she becomes angry at him which he finds very confusing. She doesn’t snap because she is a mean person. She is scared to death of losing him (and being alone.) Unfortunately, her anger is preventing both of them from fully enjoying the remaining time they do have together.
When we name fear, we diminish its power and ability to take over. In my stepmother’s example, that might be saying: “I’m afraid of losing you. I don’t know what I will do or how I will manage. Can we talk about this?”
I admit I found it hard to prevent my fear over losing my father from consuming me while I was just visiting him. I wanted to enjoy every minute we had, but I was aware of the anxious voice whispering: “This could be your last dinner with him”, or “This could be the last time you see him walking.”
I realize that I can’t prevent or avoid these thoughts – but it is my choice as to how much space they will occupy. It is possible to co-exist with fear and still move forward.
How does fear show up in your life? Is it interrupting your joy?