“Learn to love what you’ve been taught to fear.”    Felix Baumgartner

That quote came into my inbox overnight. I usually delete them quickly, but this one needed pondering.

Our fears are such funny things, as they are so very personal.

As the owner of a dog I frequent the local off lead dog park. My little 4 kg dog is fearless. She is up for a game with any dog, small or big. With some dogs she is cautious, but I would not say she is afraid. And then there are other dogs, big and small, who are fear based. Where does that come from in a dog? As Milly was a stray we do not know her early history, but I suspect that dog’s, like humans, often arrive with the ground fertile to plant particular fears. The right conditions, and boom…the fear is activated. Milly arrived in the world naturally courageous.

We have been taught to fear things and people. Culture teaches us to fear strangers. Odd or different people. A mother will transmit her fear of something to the child, even against her desire to do so.

The economic system is simply brilliant at having us fear collapse. Indeed it thrives on fear. Banks need us to remain fear based or they will collapse. As does the law, the tax department. When humans realise that they are indeed the ones who hold the power, few institutions are able to endure.

Most of us fear being shamed and humiliated. The paradox of course is the pathway out of shame is to accept the very thing that has created shame.

But to love what we have been taught to fear..hmm… to love it? It may be the continuation of the conversation in my previous post on great leadership and death. That we so fear death in our society that we go to all manner of extremes to avoid its presence in any way.

Yet death is the ultimate polarising point. No one escapes it. Many don’t even have any control of its timing.

Am I able to love the fear of death? I suspect this might be easier to do than to love death itself.

And why would we engage in the practice of loving what we have been taught to fear? What value is this?

My immediate guess is that loving our fears gives us freedom. The fear is no longer the dictator. A life ruled by fears is not a life of choice. It is a life ruled by stuff we often don’t even know is ruling us.

We don’t do what we really want because we fear losing all of our money, or our reputation, or our friends, or failure. Or we fear not knowing what to do to get started, so we don’t start. This is endemic in our society. So much so that when the very few people break out of this type of fear they become famous. (Richard Branson,  Felix Baumgartner, Elon Musk, Malala Yousafzai to name a few…)

I am over living a life ruled by fear. My sovereign self wants to make the choices, not some lesser part of me that is so fear based. So here is the deal I am making…..

* I am going to really notice my fears for the next few weeks, till April end, name them, own them, experience them. Each day I will review my day to examine what fears came up, big and small, and what choices I made as a consequence.

*Knowing and naming my fears I am going to begin a practice of loving them. That is all. Witnessing them, naming them and loving them.

And then we will see what happens next. No plans to jump out of a space ship, that’s for sure. But I could make a few phone calls to people that I fear may say no. Now that would be a big place to start.

What about you? Care to join me?