Question of the Day: “What if I am afraid of myself?”

Marianne Williamson has this great quote, which often gets wrongly attributed to Muhammad Ali, but it deeply reflects a state of mind many feel. She writes the following: ““Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. ”

Jonah and I were on one of our daily walks, and our conversation drifted towards fears. Jonah has been afraid for much of his life. He has feared bears, tornadoes, floods, fires, man-eating spiders, deadly clowns. You name it. The tough part about these fears was he treated them like we were in imminent danger. He cried, raged, hid from these unseen and unlikely events as if they were just announced on the news moments ago.

We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. 

Marianne Williamson

As he’s grown older and through multiple therapies, we no longer experience the irrational fears above, so when we were walking, and he talked about school and Corona and hybrid learning, I asked him if he was afraid. He said “no”, which surprised me.

“What are you afraid of, Jonah,” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he answered.

“Are you afraid of yourself?” I asked. He laughed.

“No, of course not, Mom. That is ridiculous,” he answered.

“Is it, though?” I started to push. I always love when I can have deep conversations with my boys. “Didn’t you just say the other day that you were worried about your math test?”

“Well, yeah,” he said tentatively, intuitively sensing a trap.

“Isn’t worry just a form of fear? Aren’t you afraid that you’ll fail?”

“Yeah,” he answered, “but that doesn’t mean I am afraid of myself.”

“Really? If you fail your math test, whose fault do you think it is?” I answered.

“It’s mine,” he answered without pausing.

“So if you’re afraid of failing your math test and you feel you are the sole factor in passing or failing your math test, what are you afraid of?”

“Wait, no,” he said and sputtered as he started to see my logic.

“Here’s the craziest part Jonah, it’s totally okay to fail your math test, so you don’t need to worry about it or even be afraid of yourself. You can just focus on doing your best.” He stopped and looked at me like this was the first he was hearing this.

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Marianne Williamson

I am going to pause here and tell you that I talk to my boys all of the time about the importance of trusting themselves and doing their best. We do not have an environment of absolute success at all costs. I have always tried foster a home where mistakes were okay and trying your best is all that matters, yet my son acted like this was the first he was hearing this.

Here is the craziest part for me, and it is not the realization that external forces beyond our house and beyond my control feed into my son’s reality about who he is and what he is afraid of. The craziest part is that I sincerely believe that the Universe asks us to teach lessons that we must learn, so my question has to be, “Am I afraid of myself?”

I think the answer is “yes”.

Love and Light, Fellow Travelers!

Photo by Hristo Fidanov on