Fear is something that can get the best of us. It causes incessant worries, doubts, and anxiety. It takes us down the worst possible path in our life and does absolutely nothing positive for us. Even the smallest worries can blossom into more if we give them our time and energy.
When Fear is Staring at You
Let me give you an example of this. I was outside my apartment building with my dogs, and a man stepped out on his deck upstairs and started glaring at me. Every time I looked up, there he was glaring back. It brought out every one of my fears. I took the dogs back in the house and proceeded to run through every possible worst-case scenario in my head. Did he hate dogs and was out to get us? Was he going to report me for something? Was he a stalker? Or some kind of psycho? Would I need to move again soon? I got so wrapped up in fearful thoughts that I could barely breathe. I felt scared that I wouldn’t be able to take the dogs out again later.
When I realized what I was doing, I stopped to breathe, taking some time to just clear my mind. Sitting down, I quietly ate my breakfast and calmed myself. No more bad thoughts. I asked God (the Universe, etc.) to please take over and resolve it. Soon thereafter I had a strong urge to put on my shoes and go up to his apartment. Mind you, this would have been something I normally would have been too scared to do, but I felt like something was pushing me to go.
Finding Courage and Compassion
I was in front of his door and almost chickened out. I started to walk away. Trembling like a leaf, I took a deep breath and knocked, almost involuntarily. I heard a TV inside and some scurrying around and whispering. Then I clearly heard a man say, “you open the door”. Next thing I know I’m standing in front of a very submissive woman who looks scared.
I politely explained that when her husband had been on the porch earlier, he had looked very irritated with me, and I just wanted to know what the issue was. He came out and said he “had every right to stand on his own porch”. I agreed with him, and said that I had no issue with that – but was only curious why he looked at me with such an angry look.
Since I could tell I would probably get nowhere fast with a gruff old man who clearly had communication issues (very passive aggressive), I asked, “is it something with my dogs? Is it their barking?” (It is spring now and we all have our windows open too.) He said, “well the one barks a lot, especially when there are other dogs around”. I agreed with him, and apologized, but asked that he just let me know in the future if they were too loud – promising that I would do my best to limit the noise and quiet them down. I told him he could even come out to his balcony and let me know if I was outside and they were being too loud for him.
Facing Your Fears
To be honest, both he and his wife looked astonished. Like they weren’t sure what to say. I told them I just wanted to be a good neighbor. That my name was Jen and they could always reach out to me if needed. They never told me their names – mostly because I’m sure they were so shocked I was at their door and being so nice to them. The woman thanked me and I went on my way.
The lesson here? When I stopped letting my fears and anxiety get the best of me and asked for guidance, I was led to go talk to the man. I didn’t have any feelings that I was unsafe – quite the opposite. I felt that I was safe and needed to get to the root of it and not let the man fester and create a bigger problem. And of course, to not approach it in the same passive aggressive way he had handled it, but instead being kind and straightforward, and finding compromise.
Most of the time in our society, people are just walking around angry at life and find others to take it out on. It has nothing to do with us really. If you can calmly work through that issue with them, or diffuse it at least, they will go find something else to be angry at. Or maybe, just maybe, they’ll soften a little and learn from how you handled it.
Moving Past Our Fears
Regardless, it was so wonderful to do this rather than sit in my own fear and anxiety and create something big and awful in my head. Now I feel like I can go outside again with my dogs with some peace. I will obviously try and be more respectful of others, and quiet my dogs when they get barky – or take them inside.
This whole incident brought me a new awareness of not only how our fears can run away with us if we don’t stop them, and that we need to get quiet and calm and ask for guidance, but it also made me more sensitive to my neighbors. I think sometimes we forget that the people around us may have things they are dealing with too, and we need to be sensitive to that. My barking dogs were setting this man off, and I needed to remember to be more aware and sensitive to my neighbors.
So I also ask you to notice the people you fear in moments like these and try and find some understanding. I’m not saying you should go talk to them, especially if your gut tells you it’s not safe. But just to find compassion for whatever led them to their behavior. I don’t know what this man is dealing with – but perhaps there are health issues, a family death, or just emotional issues from childhood he has stuffed down and not dealt with.
But regardless, I am trying to find some compassion for him, because whatever is going on has made him an angry man. While I don’t have to make friends with him, I can handle him with calm and compassion. I think if we can also handle ourselves in moments of fear, anxiety, or all-out breakdowns with that same level of compassion, we are on the road to not only self-love, but a loving and kind society.
The next time you find yourself fearful, anxious and headed down a bad path mentally – find your calm. Sit down. Get quiet. Ask for guidance. Now relax and breathe and see what comes. I think so many times we create something awful in our heads, and whether or not we take any action, we need to calm down and be more rational and open to guidance. Once you get in that fear loop of bad thoughts, you are headed down a bad path and things are bound to get worse even if the situation wasn’t bad to start. So remind yourself that the Universe has your back. Follow your gut and guidance as calmly as you can. And then find the lessons in all of it.
Fear tempts you to draw close to it, but the Universe compels you to cling to love. So stay safe of course, but be loving toward yourself in moments of fear, tuned in to your guidance, and compassionate toward yourself and in your understanding of others.
A book that might interest you is Outrageous Openness: Letting the Divine Take the Lead by Tosha Silver
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