During a recent cleaning spree, I slid a 3 foot tall, white, plastic basket into the laundry room, where I happen to be loaning space to five impossibly cute kittens.
When the basket slid into the room, they flipped out, leaping into the air and scrambling away in fear. Kitten apocalypse.
I found the biggest kitten squeezed behind the washer, peering out warily with one little terrified eye.
Wildly amused and mildly annoyed, I decided to be finished with this hotmessdedness. I plopped the kitten right on top of the basket’s lid and continued sliding it into the room at a painstakingly slow pace.
He froze in horror but didn’t run. The other kittens’ little heads popped out. They watched in awe, slowly coming out of hiding to investigate; sniffing, clawing, and climbing.
Eventually, I slid the basket back out of the room with no reaction at all.
So much of what we are afraid of is simply unknown.
We share and receive this sound missive often. Rarely do we acknowledge that following the implied advice to learn about something you’re afraid of, is wildly difficult. Often, it’s so hard we actually alienate ourselves from the object more, exacerbating our fears.
A basket is one thing. Bumblebees another. (<–My irrational fear.) But, what if that fear is of yourself? Of who you might, or might not be?
What if your fear of stepping into unfamiliar territory, keeps you from realizing your life has become a cage with mirrored walls?
Mind you, I realize stuff really is flippin’ scary.
I totally identified with the kittens. ‘Cause if a skyscraper started grinding along the sidewalk toward me, I wouldn’t wait to see whether it were fluffy or benign.
But there are ways to face your fears, by giving yourself the space to fully and safely explore them. Safe exploration depends on your circumstances. It may be going slowly, or taking small steps, or not.