A New Perspective on Fear

A low, gravelly voice said from behind, “Don’t be afraid.”

Bees were everywhere. They turned almost everyone enjoying the placid creativity of a Prescott art festival into a buzz of panic. Standing in line, awaiting the tartness of fresh-squeezed lemonade, we watched swarms of bees hovering above cups and food, landing on shoulders, arms, and clothing. Some people squirmed, some swatted, some just ran from the lemonade line.

I turned to see an older man with a tidy white beard and long white eyebrows. His eyes twinkled and dimples appeared below his cheeks. I smiled. “Don’t be afraid,” he said once more.  ”Bees only sting when they sense fear.” He rocked back and forth, his fingers circling the straps of faded overalls. “It’s true!” he insisted.

Is it? I wouldn’t know. But it is an interesting thought.

This has some merit. Consider that when we are afraid we are consumed with thinking we need to protect ourselves. As a result of this panic, we:

  • Act aggressively. When we look back later we find our behavior either ridiculous or hurtful.
  • Think about getting rather than giving.
  • Seek half-baked solutions that are short-lived and often unsatisfying.
  • Strive to have the last word.
  • Cut ourselves off from the inner wisdom that helps us rise to our challenges.

So how do we override the knee-jerk, fear-filled response to what we believe is coming to hurt us?

“Don’t be afraid,” the white-haired man said.

He obviously sees bees differently than I do. But maybe that’s the answer.

Maybe it’s about seeing things differently. Maybe it’s about questioning what we’ve come to believe and learning a different response-one that is more grounded, centered, and thoughtful. Perhaps it’s about trying something we’ve never had the presence of mind to consider.

That’s exactly what I did. Rather, what actually happened was this:

After the woman handed me my lemonade, a bee came along for the ride. The hitchhiker stayed with my daughter and me as we wandered from booth to booth, hovering above the waxy cup. At one point, it landed on my shirt sleeve. I felt my blood pressure rise and took a deep breath. What if I got stung? I tried not to think about it. The bee flew away and came back a few seconds later.

We shooed it away with our napkins. It kept flying back. We tried hard to stay brave and calm, but we kept our napkins flapping like sails in a hurricane.

We made it home without any bee stings.

And though I did not, that day in Prescott, come to embody the Jedi calm of the man with the sparkling eyes and frayed overalls, I did take home the lesson.

Have I grasped it yet? I don’t know.

But the next time I feel the familiar rush of adrenaline, I’ll think back to his admonition about not being afraid. And I’ll do whatever I can to see things from another, less fear-provoking perspective.

Image credit: Louise Docker

About Diane Bolden

Diane Bolden is passionate about helping people actualize their brilliance in a way that inspires others to do the same. In addition to being the author of The Pinocchio Principle ~ Becoming the Leader You Were Born to Be, Diane is an executive coach, speaker, yoga lover and mother of three. Join Diane On the Road to Real, visit her Synchronistically Speaking blog, follow her on Twitter;, or visit her YouTube channel for more.

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