Kelly, age sixteen, was bitten by a rattlesnake while walking on her ranch in Arizona. She was rushed to the hospital and treated there for a week. Her leg became swollen, discolored, and quite painful, and for a month she couldn't walk without help.
Not long after her return home, I asked her if she was more afraid of snakes now, and she said, "No, I don't think so. In fact, I'm probably less afraid, because now I know I can survive a snake bite."
Most of us spend our entire lives governed by fear. We're afraid we won't be good enough, afraid that we'll look stupid, afraid people won't approve of us, and so on. Then we protect ourselves in ways that never lead to happiness.
The truth is, in many cases we're not "good enough" to deal with particular situations, we will often look stupid, and many people will disapprove of us. These are the realities of life, just as being bitten by a rattlesnake is one of the real possibilities of living and walking in the desert. But these potential dangers are nothing compared to our fear of them. What if Kelly, for example, had reacted to her fear of snake bite by staying in the house all her life? That would have been much worse than getting bitten on a single occasion. Similarly, the things we fear are not as harmful as our fear of them, which blinds us and eliminates our happiness.
We must face the rattlesnakes in our lives. We must be willing to be flawed, to make mistakes, and to earn the disapproval of others. Only as we "fail" can we realize that our failures will not kill us. We can survive them, learn from them, and actually become stronger as a result of them.
Replace your fear and confusion with peace and happiness.
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