The FEAR Factor

Pick Mastery, Any Mastery. Fear is Apropos
by Martha Pasternack

The following letter could have been written by any of the many clients I have worked with all over the world as a Life Coach for 10 years (and before that as a Family Nurse Practitioner for 35 years.) Currently, as a Life Coach, I focus on the zillions of ways fear keeps people stuck. I am not talking about fear of the dark, fear of nuclear war, or fear of falling. There are a few life-preserving fears that we do well to heed. For example, when I was a toddler I was afraid of what was under my bed when the lights went out at bedtime. I consider that fear absolutely rational and reasonable. There is nothing you can say to change my mind.

I am talking about the emotional fear of not being perfect, loved, or strong enough. I am talking about the fear that clouds our visions and deflates our enthusiasm, thereby keeping us immobilized.

We cannot move towards our authentic expression of life, self-love and self-acceptance when we are tethered to fear.

Those are the very things that will empower our happiness, our relationships, our health and yes, our personal, professional and financial peace. Busting the fear that binds us is a big deal and one that I am devoted to. I believe that when we get clear we can move forward. Remember, I am not talking about perfection as in flawlessness. I am talking about authenticity as in being human.

I am talking about the gentleness of self-acceptance and unraveling the mystery of self-love, which I believe will nudge the inertia of self-importance. When that is done we are free to open our hearts to sacred action for ourselves, our children, our grandchildren and all of the beauty of God’s creation. Yes, I know. That is a lot to say. It is my life’s work.

Here is that letter I mentioned:

Dear Fear,

Hi, it’s me. You and I have been playing emotional tug-of-war for way too long. Every time I get stronger and gain some ground you get tricky and pull me off my feet. This is a no-win situation and I am getting tired of playing. Truthfully, I am getting bored with this game.

As you well know, I have tried to quit playing with you yet you have a knack of showing up at the most inconvenient times. I can never relax. I look over my shoulder all day long. You even show up in my dreams! You even show up on good hair days! Fear, I censor my dreams, goals and desires because of you. I hold myself back from joy because of you.

I make things up, and worse yet, believe that they are true because of you. I believe things like I am too old, not worthy, not smart enough, unlovable and a loser. When you are around I can’t figure out how to trust myself or anyone else for that matter. I try too hard, eat too much, and tense up until I get a headache or don’t sleep well. I even wanted to start smoking cigarettes again because I was so tense. I resisted but it was too close for comfort. You can be a very bad influence on my self-confidence.

And forget forgiveness. When you are around there is no way I can forgive others or myself because I don’t want to be hurt again. Can you blame me? When you are around I cannot be satisfied with what I have accomplished because it may not be enough. I cannot be content or appreciate all that I do because it may not be good enough. You have a way to make me feel so alone when I want to feel connected to the people, places and things I care about.

Give me one good reason you insist on always pulling me back towards my so-called comfort zone. Be honest. What is your intention in doing that? I am all about intention but you, fear, confuse me.

Well, fear, I want out. I want to be free from you. I want to be free to live from love not fear, free to make mistakes, to get it almost perfect…not perfect. Listen to this: I also want to risk getting it right!

Wait just one minute here. You say you just want me to be safe? I don’t get it. When you pull me over the centerline onto your side I may be tucked away in my comfort zone, but deep down I do not feel safe. Hard to believe, I know.

I have an idea. When I count to three let’s put the tug-of-war rope down, sit down and listen to each other. I’ll tell you my truth and you tell me yours. Maybe we can come up with a better way to play together that will be win-win-win. Maybe we could even be friends, you and I. Ok? Ok, but just so you know, I’m kind of scared right now.

Ready? 1-2-3 put the rope down. Sit down. You go first. I am listening.


Martha Pasternack Martha Pasternack, MMC
My passion for witnessing the beauty and mystery of life, healthy healing and the promotion of Peace on Earth are integral to my daily life. I have been life coaching since 2004 as a Fearless Living Coach after working 30 years as a health care professional.

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