Sunday, August 16, 2009

You can’t conquer your fears. (Why would you want to, anyway…?)

Let’s face it; we’re all human and humans have fears. Fear is an inextricable, necessary and even a beautiful and perfect part of you. If you try to defeat your fears you’re just fighting yourself.

Let me tell you about one of my fears.

Yellow jackets.

In the summer of 2003, I was out cutting firewood, and some yellow jackets apparently took exception to my chainsaw. So they swarmed me. They stung me through my jeans and through my shirt. There were yellow jackets in my hair and even one inside of one of my gloves, stinging me. In all, I think I got about 20 stings -- enough stings to elicit a minor anaphylactic reaction. It was a painful and frightening experience.

Although it has been six years since my run in with the yellow jackets, I still have some fear of them. Even so, I don’t let the fear determine whether or not I enjoy my life. Here in North Idaho, the easiest way to avoid yellow jackets is to stay indoors. If you look back over my earlier blogs, you’ll see numerous posts about hiking, backpacking, trail running and kayaking. Obviously, I love to spend time outdoors and, even though I’m uncomfortable whenever a yellow jacket is buzzing around me, I still enjoy spending as much time outside as I can. What’s the worst thing that can happen? I can get stung. In fact, last summer, a yellow jacket stung me right on the upper lip. Wow, did that ever HURT! But I healed. I haven’t conquered my fear of yellow jackets—it’s still there—I just don’t let the fear imprison me.

The challenges in your life that give rise to fear are always an opportunity for you to learn, grow, evolve and become stronger. So don’t try to conquer fear; embrace it. Don’t allow yourself to be paralyzed by it and don’t let fear be the determiner of your life experience.

Take a look at the photo above. I took it jut a few days ago with my camera phone. My hand was just inches away. I was nervous, but I didn’t want to pass up that fleeting opportunity to capture the beauty of the yellow jacket sitting on the flower. The lesson: even if I’m afraid, I’m still willing to go after what I want. Good lesson; good self reflection; good feeling.

Until next time,
Doctor Mark William Cochran
Sandpoint and Coeur d'Alene,Idaho

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