“Many people live their lives locked in a paralysis of fear, seemingly unable to take a step forward to resolve a deadlock or reveal their true potential. These challenges differ for every individual, both in their nature and their scale. What may to one person seem a simple problem may be experienced by another as overwhelming and insurmountable. But the process of summoning up the courage required to take action is always the same regardless of how seemingly big or small the challenge.” January 2011 SGI Quarterly
These days, amidst all the changes taking place in my life, I find fear all around me. It creeps up slowly and quietly taking a firm hold by altering the direction of thoughts formed in my mind. Rather than thinking to myself, “I can do this”, I find myself saying “I’m not sure if I can.” Positive thoughts one minute are quickly transformed into negative ones within a matter of seconds. As I plan to move my life in a different and healthier direction, I find myself thinking….”But what if this happens?” or “What if that…?” Those ”what ifs” have a way of instilling so much fear that there are times when I feel overwhelmed and afraid to do anything. Fear has a way of keeping us locked down to what is familiar and away from the unlimited possibilities that just might lead us in a more fulfilling and happier direction.
Over the past few weeks, I have become more and more aware of my fear and its stealthy nature. By observing my mind and thought patterns, I was able to find my fear’s point of entrance. It usually happens when I am daydreaming, or when I am looking forward to some upcoming event, thinking perhaps a bit too far off into the future. The door to my fear opens at that very moment when I begin to think “But, what if.” This is the crucial point when I allow fear to step in, set up command, and secure its secret operating spot somewhere in the depths of my mind. It happens the moment I go to that dark place that knows no bounds.
And so, I made a conscious decision to stop. By recognizing when the door has opened, I’ve gained a greater ability to keep it closed. As soon as I catch myself thinking those what ifs, I tell myself to stop, and I lockdown those thoughts before they get out of hand. I literally tell myself, “Nope, I am not going there today.” I simply make the decision not to think in that negative way. I’ve learned, through this conscious act to change my thinking, that it takes courage to face my fears even the ones that hide in the dark corners of my mind. It is as SGI President Ikeda has said, “Small things matter. What may look like a small act of courage is courage nevertheless. The important thing is to be willing to take a step forward.”