“We fear because we have not used fear as a tool, only as a reaction. Fear in itself is not good or bad. It is only an emotional tool that warns us to be careful about what we do.” (Susan McCann)
Fear is something that affects us all. Here is a short excerpt from the chapter on fear in our book. The book deals in depth with many kinds of fear. Here we just give one example of how the author dealt with his fear of public speaking.
Public speaking terrified me
My first Sunday Service. I had been fasting from midnight, as was the church law back in the 60’s. My stomach churned with fear. This was it. As a newly ordained priest, it would be my first public sermon.
Imagine how I felt. The church seated hundreds, and Manchester Catholics were very much a churchgoing people in those days. Sure enough, I faced a full house, with people even standing at the back.
I was sweating as I made my way up into the pulpit. No escape! Can’t run out on the congregation. I placed my notes on the lectern, then took a deep breath . . . and leapt into the unknown. Somehow, my heart pounding, I soldiered on for about 10 minutes.
It was’t as bad as I thought. No-one walked out, there were no hecklers: everyone was silent and respectful. They seemed to be listening, and that encouraged me to calm down, think more clearly, and pass on my message.
Then it was all over! “The hard bit’s done now,” I thought, as I made my way back to the altar. One more brush with fear was over. After that the rest of the service was relatively easy – simply a matter of reading the prayers, and following well-practised actions. There’s no fear of breaking down, not knowing what to say next. It’s all there, clearly written in large letters in the massive service book.
Soon communion was over, the final prayer said, and then the closing blessing and dismissal. A final reverence, and then a slow dignified walk down the aisle to the back of the church, to shake hands with the people as they left, sharing a smile, a few words and a laugh.
That experience was a massive challenge. How did I do it? In this particular case, it was the fact that I had no option that made me do it. In spite of fear. You might wonder, “Why didn’t you simply refuse to do it?” My whole way of life, as a Franciscan monk, had prepared me.
I had been trained in self-discipline and obedience for many years. I had developed strength, conviction and courage to do my ‘duty’. My sense of duty overcame my fear.
We all suffer fears. I’m sure you do. So we’re analyzing how we might overcome such fears. There are many different strategies. Not all of them suit everyone. You need to experiment, and discover what works best for you.
You know you must conquer fear. Never doubt the power of fear to hold you back. What’s your own experience so far? Study the following questions:
- What exactly is fear?
- What’s the cause of fear?
- Are there different kinds of fear?
- Is fear good or bad?
- Can fear be controlled?
- Examples of fears that should be controlled.
We will deal with each of these questions in more detail. . . in the book.
Excerpt from Chapter 5 of “Change Your Life, Start Right Now” by Gerry McCann – The Merry Monk