Everyday we have a choice. We can choose joy or fear. We get to decide whether we’ll let joy or fear control what path we take at any moment. Which do you let drive your life? Do you consciously decide to let either joy or fear control you, or do you just live your life and never think about it? It’s time to think about it.
What brings you joy? When’s the last time you felt joy? How about fear? I don’t mean the kind of fear that happens when we see a car racing towards us, but the kind of fear that tells you not to eat the raw cookie dough or that you can’t take more than one 15 minute shower every two days (don’t gasp in shock – it’s a thing)
When’s the last time you did something for yourself just because it brought you joy? There are so many reasons in the world to be afraid. We believe others will judge us, or this choice today will ruin the environment, or our children will be harmed if we let them watch one more show. We take on every worry and fear out there and use other people’s worries to direct our lives.
Those feelings impacted not only your own life, but also the lives of your family and friends.
Which Fears Are Your Own?
It’s so important to know whether a fear is your own, or someone else’s. Humans really only have a few fears that they develop on their own. Babies fear falling and loud noises. From here people may develop other fears based on their own experiences.
When I was about 8, my sister and I went swimming at our pool. Back in the 80s things were a bit different than they are now – our pool had these bowls you could float in, but they were flat around the top so they suctioned to the bottom of the pool if they flipped over. I’m sure you can see where this is going. I was trapped underneath and wouldn’t have made it out if someone else hadn’t freed me. I didn’t develop a fear of the water, but I do have problems with small, dark spaces.
Sometimes people give their fears to others, sometimes we accept them. These fears may be from parents to their children, from our friends to each other, or from that article on the internet.
What are you afraid of? What holds you back? Can you follow that fear back and see where it comes from? Was it your own, or did you accept it from someone else?
Let Go Of Fear
Some fear is useful. Some fear is needed, but most fear hold us back and interferes with our relationships.
It’s time to let go of unhelpful fear. Allow yourself to make different choices and strengthen the connection in your relationships.
When a toddler really doesn’t want to brush his teeth, you have a choice. You can either insist he brushes his teeth (this is often accompanied with talk of germs and cavities) or you can shrug and let it go. The fear of cavities, of poor dental hygiene, is a huge fear many parents have. But if a child skips brushing their teeth once or twice, even a whole week, it’s not likely to actually cause irreversible harm. But forcing a child to brush their teeth will cause a rift in your relationship, and may also cause the child to resist brushing their teeth for much longer than if you stepped back and allowed them some autonomy.
I get it. I really do. Sometimes it’s easy to tell ourselves these fears are real and exaggerate the risk. If a child never brushed their teeth, ever, (and ate a lot of sugar and had poor dental genes) then there’d be cause for alarm. If a child has poor dental genes and has other factors affecting their teeth, then there’s cause for concern, but still the cause for concern isn’t necessary for one or two days.
I’ve found when I let go of fear, I’m better able to find solutions that strengthen the connection between me and my children. I’ve had several children that resisted brushing their teeth (okay I haven’t had a single one that willingly brushed their teeth for the first 4 years) but they weren’t opposed to cleaning their teeth in other ways. A few ideas we came up with:
- Use a thin, soft, wash cloth – instead of a toothbrush – to rub their teeth clean.
- Rinse with water several times after eating. This isn’t as effective, but it’s better than nothing.
- Give the kiddo a bit of apple/carrot or other hard food followed by hard cheese.
- Be aware of other ways to keep teeth healthy – for instance diet.
The point of these isn’t solely to prevent cavities, but to take away the fear that leads us to believe there’s only one right way. Is brushing teeth important? Yep. But having a child that is happy to brush their teeth is more important in the long run. Having a healthy, strong relationship is even more important.
Let go of fear and see the possibilities!
The Absence of Fear
In general, if you believe there’s only one choice, one right way to do something, it’s often fear driving your actions. Are you letting that fear become more important than your family?
We cannot have joy or hope as long as there is fear. When we let fear control our lives, there’s only one path, one right way. This affects us in all areas of life, but most especially in our relationships. A mother that’s constantly afraid of what will happen if her child doesn’t eat broccoli, or what’ll happen if they eat that entire bag of candy, what will happen if she lets her child ride their bike without training wheels, or, or, or. There’s so many things to be worried about, so many things to fear.
When we let go of fear, we allow our children the opportunity to grow and become more competent. We allow ourselves to be open to their love and to give our love more freely. When we let go of the unhelpful fears, we open ourselves to abundance and joy.
Let’s Talk About Our Fears
I’d love to hear from you. Pop a comment below and let us know what fears you’ve held onto. If you’re having difficulty finding a different way to look at it, let me know. Maybe we can brainstorm together and find new ways to approach the problem!
*Don’t worry about how your fears may be viewed, I spent 6 months afraid to carry my baby in the upstairs hallway because I was afraid I’d trip and drop the baby over the railing. Yep. It was a fear I had. I can laugh about it now, but underneath the laughter I can still feel my heart pound when I think about it.