I ventured out today with my dog Rabbit on one of our many daily walks. As we turn the corner to come back down my street I saw two little girls, probably about 7 and 10 years old, walking with their father towards me. The taller of the two girls was just ahead and smiling big as she saw little Rabbit jumping up with excitement and pulling towards them. The younger of the two hid behind her father in fear and as we got closer and Rabbit barked she started to scream as if she had just seen a horrible monster. Now I have to mention that Rabbit is a small Chocolate Chihuahua – Miniature Pinscher Mix who is about as sweet and docile of a dog as I have ever met. She absolutely loves kids and barks a little at first but then she’s quickly all love and affection.
I reassured them that Rabbit was a nice dog who didn’t bite and just wanted to say Hi. She’s a puppy I said, you can pet her if you want. The older girl smiled, looked at her dad for reassurance and then asked me if it was OK to come close. I reassured her and she was immediately filled with joy and excitement as she walked toward us but the closer she came the more fearful and anxious the younger sister became. She pulled at her father and screamed in fear, then anxiety and finally what looked like panic. At one point she even started to run away from us.
Don’t be afraid I said and it took her father, sister and I several minutes to calm her down enough to come close and barely touch Rabbit. She wanted to hold her, I could tell that she liked her and she was filled with curiosity but her fear had the best of her and wouldn’t allow her to relax enough to enjoy the moment. The older sister happily pet Rabbit, talked to her and held her while she gently stroked her brown fur. All the while the father was trying his best to bring the younger sister closer and convince her it was safe. Finally he looked at me with disappointment and said “She gets it from her mother who constantly lives in fear of everything and I’ve tried to talk to her but nothing works. She’s even afraid of things she sees on TV. I don’t know what to do.”
As I bid them a good day and started to walk back home the experience got me thinking. In life we all have the choice to live in fear or overcome it and enjoy the moment. We can be like the older sister who was fearless and embraced the opportunity to explore something new and felt joy because of it. Or we can live in fear and cower away from the unknown, imagining the most horrible outcome and be paralyzed or panicked by the moment.
Fear can have so much incredible power over us while faith can open doors we never thought possible. Fear can stop us for exploring that new relationship, a career change, a move to a new city, going back to school, buying a new car or just about anything out of our normal, daily routine. Fear limits us from living to our full potential and darkens out outlook on life.
Our courage and strength can be a great inspiration to others and our success can help other the door for the growth and success of those around us. Likewise our fear, negativity and ugliness can be contagious, especially to our children and the younger, more impressionable generations watching.
Today I’d like to invite you to be fearless, embrace faith and courage and know that the choice is always yours to take. Fear is nothing more than False Evidence Appearing Real and it’s only purpose in our life is to teach us to overcome it. Remember that you are a role model to someone and that someone can become fearless just from watching you face and overcome your daily challenges. Remember that most of what we fear never happens and it’s all in our head. Remember that our greatest dreams and aspirations are waiting for us, over there, on the other side of fear.