Fear is the enemy of virtue. Some fear is useful — keeping ahead of scorpions or Godzilla will help you survive. But maybe you’ve noticed that being haunted by bad events from long ago is not always helpful.
Growing in virtue is a balancing act. To choose and carry out the best action, we take into account our strengths, experiences, knowledge, and lots of other factors, including our fears. The “fear factor” can be a clue to what is keeping us from becoming more virtuous.
At a talk last night, the speaker asked us to write down what we are afraid of. A fear inventory? Not fun. If I admit what I’m afraid of, it brings my weaknesses to light. Don’t want to do. But growing in virtue means being free of old ghosts, and I do want that, so here goes. I’m afraid of being ignored, as if it would extinguish my existence. I’m afraid of being yelled at, because the distance between me and the one who’s mad is too painful – as if they’ll never love me again, ever, and I’ll disappear into outer darkness.
After looking at these two fears, I see they have a lot in common – something I wouldn’t have noticed if I had not written them down. I can use this new insight to search out the root of the fear, bring light to it, and wave goodbye to Godzilla. I invite you to grab your flashlight and do the same. And don’t forget to write a gratitude list afterward!