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  • SuePattonThoele

Examining Fear



Many of us have one or two fears that intermittently raise their heads no matter what our age or situation. One of mine is the fear of not being good enough. As I write this by hand on a yellow legal pad at 4:30 a.m., that familiar face of fear is sitting right here with me. Having awakened from a stress-filled dream about being lost, I can feel my heart pounding and realize tears hover on my lids. A litany of worn-out but well-known phrases churn through my mind. You shouldn’t have... There’s not enough time... This won’t work... You can’t....


Because it’s been a while since I’ve written a book, I’d forgotten that I always seem to go through whatever I’m writing about. Voilà! Fear is the topic of this chapter, and here I am face to face with the opportunity to examine a familiar one and do something I’ve never done before by taking you with me on this real-time examination.


Because it usually works well for me, I’m going to explore using the sub-personality querying I wrote about in the first chapter. As I go inward, I notice how my body feels. Not great. Along with the rapid heartbeat, I feel edgy, tired, and sad. Who is feeling the fear? The image of a cowering little girl crouched behind a wall comes into my mind. What’s your name? She quietly responds, “Failure.” I began to feel compassion for her and long to hug her, but it’s too soon for that, so I ask, “Are you afraid you’ll fail at something?” She nods and, in my mind’s eye, I see my four-year-old self staring out the window before dawn watching my mother walk to the bus stop to go to work. With this visual, I realize this fear is an old, old one. As a kid, I always wanted to make my mother happy. More often than not, I felt I failed. Mother didn’t ask or expect this from me. For some mysterious soul reason, I took that mission on myself. “What do you want and/or need from me?” Crawling out from behind the wall, little Sue responds, “I just wanted you to see me.” I assure her I do. Tell her I love her. Thank her and tuck her in my heart-pocket.


With this awareness, I now understand that my current fears of failing myself, the publisher, and you if this book isn’t up to par or helpful go all the way back to an impossible task I gave myself decades ago. Now I know who within me needs to be reassured and kept safe as “we” write. With this information, I can see little Sue.


During your day...


  • If it resonates with you, explore a fear using the sub-personality exercise I did this morning.

  • Courageously and kindly examine fear in our own way.


The beautiful thing about fear is,

when you run to it, it runs away.


—Robin Sharma

Excerpted from The Woman's Book of Strength by Sue Patton Thoele. Available on Mango and Amazon.

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