It’s an odd social commentary when something “clicks” while watching an old episode of Rescue Me. But, there I was, last evening, watching a Season 4 episode of the show I just discovered a couple months back. In the episode, Tommy’s father is dispensing some wisdom and tells his son “facing your fears is an important part of life.”
Now, this sentiment isn’t ground breaking information. I have heard many variations on this theme more too often. But, for whatever reason, hearing it last night made me exhale.
You see, I have a dentist appointment this Thursday. And I have had a few appointments of similar ilk in the last few months, and they haven’t gone so well. Early on in my life, I had very little hesitation with the dentist, but as some negative experiences built up in the last few years, so has my anxiety deepened. The anxiety is to the point of tears when trying to get myself to walk into the dental office. It’s something that causes me great shame, to say the least. Regardless of the irrational nature of it all, obviously I have developed a fear.
And though I have told myself one variation or another on the facing fears scenario, as have my partner, family and coworkers, something clicked when it I heard it last night.
What I realized about my anxiety and related fear is that it’s taking away from my happiness. When I have a dental appointment looming in the distance, I fret about it; I actually lose sleep at times. Even during pleasant evening or weekend activities out and about, my mind will wander to the inevitability of my upcoming dental appointment; and my happiness in the moment is zapped.
Analyzing and scratching my head over it all made me realize, that at least for me, fear is the enemy to happiness. Or at the very least the act of not facing fears is the enemy to happiness.
In sharing any thoughts I always put a disclaimer out there; obviously some fear is natural, and some fear warranted. Sometimes, fear warns us of legitimate danger.
But, very often, we fear things that most likely will do us no danger; things that often never even occur. And the focus on and desire to avoid fearful things clouds otherwise sunny moments.
To be honest, I’m embarrassed at the fear I have allowed to fill parts of my life. As a child, I was pretty fearless. As a young adult, still was pretty fearless. As time and scary experiences have affected me, the fears have mounted.
I still think of myself as a person not overly affected by fears; but the truth is, I’m not actually that afraid of many things. I’m not one to fear death, so that helps out in the large catastrophe type fears.
I don’t think I’ll ever be completely done with fear in this lifetime, nor should I be. But, I must remind myself to face appropriate fears whenever possible. Doing so not only helps me get over the fears, it keeps my happiness in the forefront. And in the end, life is about being happy. It’s certainly not about being afraid, or hiding from fear.