"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do."

Eleanor Roosevelt

"Don't be afraid to go out on a limb. That's where the fruit is."

Jackson Browne

Today I took my little man to the dentist. He had been there last week to get a cleaning and exam which led to today's visit of actual dental work. When we walked to the car, I told him where we were going. He smiled and said, "Yay!" I looked at him like he was crazy. But it made me think. Why do most people cringe at the thought of going to the dentist? What is it that they fear and why do they begrudge making appointments?

I had a talk with my sister about this account and she said she even has small panic attacks on her way to the dentist. Again, I was wondering what was so awful. Sure, it is unpleasant having someone stick things in your mouth and even some of the dental products they use are less than tasteful. And of course, there is the ever so wonderful dental bill. But we eventually have to endure it-- so why not just get it over with?

Or is there a deeper problem harbored here?

How stifling is fear?

My four-year-old had no fear despite his older siblings telling him that the dentist would "put shots in all his teeth". He sat in the chair like a little trooper and didn't squirm or cry when he received his shot or when the drilling started. Why not?

Fear is berthed from guilt, inadequacy, shame and various other feelings. A child doesn't have a lifetime of these emotions to spoil their confidence. Therefore they seem quite fearless. But children are impressionable. They become scared not because they are scared but because they are taught to be scared. As an adult, we often ask ourselves why we didn’t do this or that, why didn’t we simply go for "it". It may be due to the fact that sometime in our childhood, something influenced us in a negative way, embedding some sort of fear in our subconscious.

Fear will drain you emotionally and therefore take its toll physically. Fear suffocates progress. So how does one suffocate fear? First, you need to identify what it is you fear and acknowledge it instead of hide from it. If you allow fear to rule you, you will always be its prisoner. One can never rise above fear being chained to it. These are not the natural fears I am talking about, but rather the irrational-- like inadequacy, undue illness, abandonment, financial ruin, etc. One needs to first look at that fear in face-- acknowledge that this could happen, or perhaps is happening, and move on. Don't let the fear of possible outcomes keep you stagnant. I do think my son had some anxiety about going in to the dentist. He asked me on the car ride over about the all the shots in his mouth. By asking questions, he was acknowledging his fear and trying to understand it. I told him it was only one shot and it would be ok, that in the end it was to help his teeth become stronger. That short explanation happened to be enough for him.

"Eliminating the cause of fear has only one solution. To go deep within and dismantle the false self, the ego self that entraps us in self-centered fear-generating ways of being. Watch for the seed of a growing anxiety, pull the weed out before it becomes a thriving parasite and numbs you of life. Joy is life's nourishment, fear is starvation. Fear is the opposite of belief. Fear denies faith. What have you to be afraid of if you believe that you are here on a purpose? Is there a school board without an exam? Can there be a life without struggle? No. All difficulties are tests set to strengthen us, not overcome us. If you are not careful, fear will keep you rooted…"

-Lalitha Sridhar

"Any time you catch yourself paralyzed by fear - in a word, victimized - ask yourself, "What am I getting out of this?" Your first temptation will be to answer, 'Nothing.' But go a little deeper and you'll see why people find it easier to be victims than to take strong stances of their own, to pull their own strings. It's the way of the smaller self to wallow in littleness, to avoid risks, and here we aren't talking about risks like dodging a bullet in Iraq, but confronting an innate fear of say, deep-seated jealousy. It's these fears, which keep you immobile and weak, clutching at non-essentials, thrashing about with no place to escape. Where can you go leaving your self behind?"

-Wayne W. Dyer


About Us

We have a diverse, combined writing experience. I am a middle school English teacher and an administrator and co-administrator for various writing groups. Trisha is a freelance writer, editor, and online educator whose fiction appears in FANTASY GAZETTEER. Together we co-authored "Party Crashers” for the EPPIE award winning anthology BAD ASS FAERIES 2: JUST PLAIN BAD.