Cartoon, I used to live under your bed“I am lying in my bed five flights up… and here and there on my blanket, lost feelings out of my childhood lie and are like new. All the lost fears are here again:

“The fear that a small woolen thread sticking out of the hem of my blanket may be hard, hard and sharp as a steel needle;

“The fear that this little button on my nightshirt may be bigger than my head, bigger and heavier;

“The fear that the breadcrumb which just dropped off my bed may turn into glass, and shatter when it hits the floor, and the sickening worry that when it does, everything will be broken, for ever;

“The fear that if I fell asleep I might swallow the piece of coal lying in front of the stove; the fear that some number may begin to grow in my brain until there is no more room for it inside me;

“The fear that I may be lying on granite, on gray granite; the fear that I may start screaming, and people will come running to my door and finally force it open;

“The fear that I may betray myself and tell everything I dread, and the fear that I might not be able to say anything, because everything is unsayable, – and the other fears…the fears.

“I prayed to rediscover my childhood, and it has come back, and I feel that it is just as difficult as it used to be, and that growing older has served no purpose at all.”

                                                                                                 Rainer Maria Rilke

 Dear lovely reader,

After reading his list of fears, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

Of course!!! They are all absurd! That’s Rilke’s (my favorite poet) whole point!! None of these could possibly happen.

If you remember, a few posts ago, I told you that I was creating and offering a workshop called “Finding Your Missing Peace – Recognizing and embodying the 12 Essential Ahas.”

I also said that I would share a bit of that with you. So…keeping my promise to you, and using Rilke’s lines as my starting point, “AHA #1” reminds us that

Almost everything I fear, or worry about,

will never actually happen.

Again…Of the things we fear, almost all, never actually happen to us, and many aren’t even real!!

Cartoon, Lions, Is this fear real?

BUT! (big but) – at this juncture I feel obliged to say a few words in defense of our egos, too often maligned in the self help books- and our associated fight/flight instincts, which actually are working really hard all the time to protect and defend us from the REAL dangers out there in “conventional life”.

As you well know, there’s a heck of a big difference between so-called “courage” and “just plain stupid”.

For example, if I’m coming out of a movie or a club late at night in a sketchy neighborhood, am I gonna walk through an unlit alley to save 5 minutes getting to my car? Or will I choose a well-lighted street?

These so-called “problematic” egos of ours, that we’re being advised to keep well leashed, have actually done a pretty good job of getting us this far as a species and deserve our thanks. Not every fear is bad – or mistaken.

Again, suppose I’m walking in the savannah 50000 years ago, and I’m thinking: “what a fine, lovely day. Maybe I’ll lie down on this nice flat rock, close my eyes, and meditate for an hour on the meaning of life.”

If I do that, there’s a good chance that I won’t be offering my DNA to my progeny. It’s way more likely that instead, I’ll be offering a protein rich lunch to some of my fellow inhabitants right here in the real world.

Cartoon, Lions Figure It Out

And, speaking of lunch, the late lamented Mr. Zeferelli here would have been well advised to consider more carefully the difference between real danger – and real courage.

We NEED our egos…absolutely. Of course we do! But unlike our buddies the lions, dithering while Zeferelli waves a chair in their faces, we humans have the unique capacity to scrutinize our fears, question ourselves, and then and decide: ” is this fear real, or is it a story I’m making up?

The Illusion Of Control:

Just before I offer you the usual “practice tip” I want to touch on the distinction between fear –  and worry – which is still fear of course, but a different kind.

In this version of fear, we try to imagine every possible scenario or situation where something could go wrong, the thing that might keep our plans from going predictably (“smoothly”?) and then, think of everything we can we do to prevent that thing from happening.

In essence, worry is our attempt to control the future. HA! Good luck with that!! How futile! How exhausting!

OF COURSE –  the thing that’s gonna happen is the thing we didn’t think about, or plan for.

Slide, Chart,Worry-Fear 2

Practice Tip Push PinToday’s practice tip has two parts:

We will do this first exercise in the “fear” section of the workshop. (but this one isn’t dangerous. You CAN try this at home.)

– Sit down with a friend/partner. Pick someone to go first.
-Describe one fear of yours. Go for it! Choose something big – something often on your mind. Trust your friend with it.
-Offer enough context for him/her to understand your fear.
-Discuss to determine what the threat actually is, if it is real, and whether some action by yourself is necessary – or not.
-As listener, respect without influencing your partner’s perspective, don’t offer advice, or try to “fix” anything.
-Allow your friend to fully express his/her thoughts and feelings – to feel complete.

Take 10 minutes or so. Switch.

This next, is simply a list of 7 questions you can ask yourself to challenge those fear thoughts the next time they pop up. They, like the above fear/worry chart, I found in a wonderful and accessible little book, “The Fear Book”, written by Zen Priest Cheri Huber which I highly recommend.

Fear Thoughts – Challenge Them

• Is that true?
• How do I know it’s true?
• Is that my actual experience?
• Or is this just a belief?
• Is it happening right now?
• Is it true right now?
• Says who?

That’s it for now, dear reader. Please take care of and be kind to, yourself.



*A one day version of my workshop ‘Finding Your Missing Peace: Recognizing and Embodying the 12 Essential Ahas’, will be presented on September 16th, 2014 in San Francisco at the Pre-Conference of the International Conference of Attitudinal Healing.  It will also be offered over the summer in VT. Stay tuned for details.

About Michael Scott

Michael Scott is a life coach, author and teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area. After spending 35 years in business - coaching found him - and he's never looked back. Michael uses his coaching training and experience, in the service of his clients, as their constant and loving guide towards joyous, fulfilling lives which are genuinely their own. He lives with his dear wife in Sausalito, CA.


  1. SO COOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Hello! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok.
    I’m definitely enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.

  3. Megin Fong says:

    I really appreciate this wisdom. Thanks 😉

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