Freeing Yourself from the Witch of Fear

There are two kinds of fear. One is the realistic fear that we experience when we’re in danger. This is rational and self-preservative and a very good thing.

The second is fear that is not based on any present danger so some call it irrational fear.  However, it often makes sense given our histories. It may come from our experiences in the past which we’re projecting onto the future. It may come from messages we’ve gotten that we’re incompetent or weak. It may come from an underlying depression or anxiety disorder that feeds us myths that we aren’t good enough. It may be a fear of the unknown because we’ve not developed confidence we can handle change.

Whichever kind of fear it is, our response to it is the key. We can be paralyzed by rational and irrational kinds of fear or we can move through them. Franklin Roosevelt’s quote “There is nothing to fear but fear itself” has a lot of truth to it. We can develop habits of running from or avoiding what we fear or we can develop courageous “muscles” which help us confront our fears.

I’m not negating the real concerns of physical harm which might inhibit self-protection in abusive relationships. I encourage people to pay attention to their instincts about what is safe for them and what is not. However, every abused person who has eventually left has had to reach the point where they had to act even though it was realistic for them to be very afraid.

Planning for the safest way to exit in the face of their fear takes great courage. Courage is feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

Darren John Main in Spiritual Journeys along the Yellow Brick Road*  uses the metaphor the Wicked Witch of the West as our fear that keeps us paralyzed. Whether the fear is rational or irrational doesn’t really matter when it comes to overcoming it. There is only one way to overcome it and that is through it. Choosing to feel the fear, and acting anyway. Choosing to bump the “witch” aside and create a different life for ourselves.

Main also talks of faith and courage being two sides of the same coin. This makes sense to me. We have to have a certain amount of faith or conviction in order to see new “doors.” Then, courage gets us to go through the door.

Having people to support us greatly helps in developing both faith and courage. We have to have social support in order to create enough space in our psyches to know what we want. Friends help us to know that we can get through the fear and open to the possibility of change.

Freedom will never materialize if we never venture forward.


* Main, Darren John. Spiritual Journeys along the Yellow Brick Road. Tallahassee, FL: Findhorn Press, 2000.


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