Once there was a young warrior. Her teacher told her that she had to do battle with fear. She didn’t want to do that. It seemed too aggressive; it was scary; it seemed unfriendly. But the teacher said she had to do it and gave her the instructions for the battle. The day arrived. The student warrior stood on one side, and fear stood on the other. The warrior was feeling very small, and fear was looking big and wrathful. They both had their weapons. The young warrior roused herself and went toward fear, prostrated three times, and asked, “May I have permission to go into battle with you?” Fear said, “Thank you for showing me so much respect that you ask permission.” Then the young warrior said, “How can I defeat you?” Fear replied, “My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.” In that way, the student warrior learned how to defeat fear.
Source: Pema Chödrön
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
(Shambhala; Anniversary edition, 2016) pages 33-34
Fear whispers into your ears all the time and whether you listen to it or not is the choice that you get to make in your life. Many of us make the mistake of assuming as true the fearful stories and fear scenarios that we confront in our imagination. Instead, what if you chose to befriend fear and instead of getting paralyzed by the stories, you decided to find out for yourself and did the thing you feared. Fear is built on structures of assumptions, lack of action and lack of awareness. Once you move through the fog of fear and shine the light of awareness by taking action or moving forward, fear loses its power and efficacy.
“When things fall apart or you feel fear, rather than feel you’re getting the short end of the stick, feel lucky. Only when you feel fear will you feel the opportunity to have the courage to grow. Being courageous and having a great life is all about being intimate with fear in a wise and graceful way. Feel the fear, and then do what needs to get done. Rather than being depressed about fear, lean into it, and see it as an opportunity to learn and grow.” — Pema Chödrön as paraphrased by Cathy Chester (AnEmpoweredSpirit.com)