I recently read the book "Fear" by Thich Nhat Hanh. In it, the author, a Zen master and Buddhist monk, explores the impact fear has on our lives and describes how we can live in a way that limits fear's oppressive power. He also talks about how fear doesn't just impact us at an individual level - but also negatively impacts communities, countries, and societies.

Fear certainly plays a role in my daily life. I know, I know: "There is no fear in love. Perfect loves casts out fear" (1 John 4:18). It's a great Bible verse, and I think of it often.

Nevertheless, I am still fearful. And while I know the love of God is perfect, I'm still an imperfect person living in an imperfect world. Fear is so powerful. My greatest fears relate to the safety of those I love. I am also afraid of the dark (working on it). And deeply afraid of not reaching my potential. Deep, deep inside, I think I am afraid that I'm not lovable.

Maybe that last one seems silly. I sincerely have a wonderful network of loving family members and friends. But I do fear that if I make too many mistakes...am not happy enough or friendly enough....or fail at holding it all together - that somehow I will become less lovable.

I might be completely alone in this fear, but I doubt it. I think it's pretty common. I believe a lot of us worry that we're not enough - that we're not lovable - that people don't like us - that we could be better...do better...look better.

This kind of thinking is serving us no purpose, friends. It's cutting us down. And stealing our health, peace, and joy.

So I want to add tools to my life toolkit - tools that will empower me to discern a healthier relationship with fear.

The book I read provided some awesome insights and tools. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book.

  • "The first part of looking at our fear is just inviting it into our awareness without judgment. We just acknowledge gently that it is there. This brings us a lot of relief already. Then, once our fear has calmed down, we can embrace it tenderly and look deeply into its roots, its sources" (4).
  • "We are capable of great change, both internally and also in our ability to influence the world outside us. Because we are scared, we often think we don't know what to do. But we need only to practice mindful walking and mindful breathing, to cultivate the energy of mindfulness and understanding. Understanding, when it comes, helps us release our fear, our anger, our hate, and so on. Love can only be born on the ground of understanding" (24). 
  • "If you try to run away from your pain, there is no way out. Only by looking deeply into the nature of your fear can you find a way out" (38). 
  • "The practice of mindfulness is the practice of coming back to the here and now to be deeply in touch with ourselves and with life. We have to train ourselves to do this...we have to train ourselves to recognize the many conditions for happiness that are already here" (46). 
  • "Every time we feel a strong wave of fear, anger, or jealousy, we can do something to care for this negative energy so it does not destroy us" (85). 
The path toward overcoming fear begins with accepting and loving ourselves without judgment. I'd like to be completely over and through with all my worries and fears and anxieties. But I don't think it works that way. It works through baby steps. Accepting myself...even with all the fears...is baby step #1. 

For the next while, I'm going to pay attention to my fear...to note what it feels like and when it arises...to notice how I process it. I invite you to do the same. 

And I will continue with my daily morning meditation time (currently about 10 minutes using the Headspace app). I believe mindfulness and the help of the Holy Spirit are central to overcoming the destructive aspects of fear. 

Please feel free to share your own thoughts and insights on fear! Anything you'd like to share about your own journey? Books or music that help? 


  1. Love this post, totally resonates with me. Ann S.

    1. Hey, Ann! Thanks for the comment, soul sister! Hope your new year is off to a good start.