In 1933 Franklin D. Roosevelt made his inaugural address, and has famously been misquoted from:

 … let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself …

The world we live in is a place fraught with uncertainty, about what will happen next, who will decide what happens and those that feed on that uncertainty. Uncertainty can be powerful, for it breeds fear in many. However, that is if the people required to be frightened, are frightened enough for the power to shift into the hands of those that feed on the fright.

History is littered with the beliefs that the powerful are all-powerful and that they are beyond any possibility of change. Yet, history is filled with empires that have fallen and failed, leaders that have ruled seemingly unchallenged, from thrones believed unassailable. And, that is key to their assumed power. Enough people accepted their feared behaviours for them to be in those positions; in society, in communities, in homes, until the power shifted or changed. Situations and circumstances changed because people believed differently, away from where they accepted the power of those deemed to be “in charge” through force, and intimidation.These are the macrocosms of life, the worlds that surround us. Inside the microcosm, within our lives, our minds, our thoughts, our beliefs and what we experience, some consider fear is the polar-opposite of love. That when we embody love, then fear, and all its effects, is allayed and we have freedom. Saints are famed for this. The Dalai Lama, too. Together, they are evidence that it is impossible to intimidate anyone who doesn’t buy or accept the tyranny of your presence in their world.

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To understand the mechanics of fear’s modus operandi: fear, like love, requires an accomplice to function. It requires a person to accept it as a form of truth, to accept that it is real. A buy in. From this it can operate its mission to dominate and to overwhelm, given the opportunity.

No buy in means no customer. And no effects. Living in a frightening world of uncertainty in the mind, often draws to itself the fears of how will I ever survive the chaos? Am I good enough? Will I ever even cope and be able to function? And so many other thoughts, insecurities, and fears built around inadequacy in some shape, manner or form.

The word courage originates from a French word for the heart (coeur). It may be translated and defined as facing adversity using bravery from the heart, using heart power to overcome the fears brought by the mind. Anyone considered “brave” may be thought to have no feelings. Yet it is often their feelings and emotions that drive them forwards into their actions. They then delve deep into their reactions to power through the experiences they face. They use their reactions to focus on the results they require, rather than on what is being forced upon them. They make a choice, when others see no other choice as either an option, or available.

Returning to Franklin D. Roosevelt, and his inaugural speech, and my personal take on his comment

 … let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself …

I see what he said was his belief. He was mirroring a nation devastated by depression. He voiced their concerns. And through a paternal understanding, and developed solutions, he gave society hope and something to do. He stimulated the societal belief that opportunity was possible. As a result, he gave solutions, and a different experience of life. That said, I challenge both his statement, and the subsequent misquotes, as they may not be true.

One viewpoint is that fear of existential things such as death, of the unknown (everything is, in truth, unknown – certainty is often just a thought construction, or a belief, firmly held) is a mind-manufactured emotional response to circumstances. That in and of itself, it is not real.

Yes, there are inherent life preserving fears – fear of falling and fear of loud noises. Experts add to these with being damaged beyond repair to our bodies, or our minds, and being abandoned / separated from society, falling apart from the effects of such, and the total destruction of who we think we are, on all levels.

And then there are those handed down with the DNA of life. There’s the physical biology of the body. With it comes the family or ancestral stuff that we inherit, often without filters, for it to rule our lives, and our choices. These can be far-ranging and powerful from that’s how we view and do things, to the right to be who we are, or how we acknowledge and deal with others and (who or what we perceive as) authority.

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Here’s the kicker: to hold a made-up emotional response as real, and to personify it, is irrational. Or so I tell myself, as I shiver with fright in the corner, challenged by my own neuroses towards life and life’s challenges (as I perceive them to be). These are the given moments of life that I face with my beliefs very firmly in place. Beliefs that I’ve built upon life experience. Ones I’ve learnt from family and trusted sources, from friends, from relationships, and information gathered.

Beliefs that have truths built upon their backs. Beliefs that have subliminally woven themselves into my mind, my emotions and my life. To dominate my thinking, my attitudes and my behaviours. I reckon that I’m not the only one affected by the effects of fear when it is at play. In this I am like everyone else.

To be here writing this, has challenged a deep insecurity inside me. I have, as one who listens and gathers from others both intuitively and empathically, gathered a lot of insecurity and anxiety. Added into this mix, are my own fears about expressing my voice. At 55, I’ve been busy. I’ve blacked out this year, had surgery and been pushed through my own limitations many more times than I’d care to admit. I wouldn’t change any of my experiences for anything. They have been invaluable. They’ve pushed me towards growth and wonder. Towards love and grace and beauty. They have shown me that fears cripple, stifle and drag away potential in favour of stagnation. And death of self, hopes and dreams.

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Love however, shines a light inside and allows, encourages and nurtures. In life, and in living with love, I get to choose the response. If at first, my reaction is fear-based, I can with time choose my response towards a love-based response. And be at ease.

To conclude. Fear is devastating, no question. Knowing there are options and love a great antidote, when given the chance to play out. Love can be chosen, or generously gifted by another caring and kind enough to offer their presence in your world. Fear may not (fully) dominate and cause ripples through the entirety of your life, when you’re able to choose another awareness.

The effects from centuries of others may be there in your life. Your history, however, never determines your future. Choice is yours, and it is powerful. What will you decide? New choices in future, perhaps? 

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Important note: Many, many thanks for the Love, care and collaboration of my friends at BeCollaboration and The Professional Speaking Association. These communities are remarkable for their support. Both have encouraged my ability to flourish.