Posts Tagged ‘fear’

What the Heck Can I Do?

August 17, 2017

My heart hurts for what is happening in the world as hatred continues to rear its ugly head. I talk a lot about kindness; I teach it in my workshops. But sometimes, I find myself wondering how being kind can make a difference when terrorists and people with hate in their hearts are causing such horror in all parts of the world. Then I remember that there are many more people on the earth who are kind and compassionate than there are those who want to spread ugliness and hatred. But because of their despicable deeds, the bad guys are the ones who seem to garner the most attention.

We receive daily reports about manifestations of violence and anger which cause us to sometimes be on edge, and perhaps a little snarkier than normal. I have decided that the best thing I can do is to try to make things better in my little corner of the world by spreading kindness and refusing to honor hatred.

Here is what I know about hatred: it stems from fear. Those who hate are hesitant to let go of it because they are afraid of dealing with the pain that is the root of their hatred.

I believe that hateful acts say everything about the hater and nothing about the targets of their hatred. People who deal in unkindness are projecting feelings they have about themselves.

Here is what I know about kindness: it doesn’t make you weak and it doesn’t make you a doormat. It doesn’t mean that you don’t stand up for what you believe is right. Kindness gives you strength and treating others with compassion pays big dividends…it gives joy to both the receiver and the giver.

We all know that being kind is a choice, but it is also something innate; we are born with it. When we perform acts of kindness, we are being true to our nature. Not so with hatred and prejudice. I’m not a psychologist, so I don’t know what happens in someone’s life to cause hatred to take root and grow. Maybe it is abuse or trauma. Perhaps they have been taught to fear those who are different. Possibly they feel that something will be taken from them. All I know is that they are somehow broken.

We cannot fix hatred in other people…that is up to them to fix. But we can rise above it and refuse to let the flames of hatred consume us. We can stand up against cruelty, bullying, and vitriolic rhetoric. And we can model kindness because it is one of the best tools in our fight against the dark side. Even if your kind act seems like a small thing, remember that one candle can light the darkness.



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Walking Through Fear Storms

November 16, 2015

It has been said that “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.”

In today’s world, fearsome things are swirling all around us; things that we never could have imagined. Terror is in every headline and fear is at epidemic proportions. Some of the anchors on which we relied have disappeared and we are living in a polluted “atmosfear.”

People can be afraid of any number of things…the dark, being alone, snakes, spiders, heights, water, flying, politicians, giant meatballs, etc. Personally, I am afraid of trying on bathing suits. Some are afraid of dying, but worse…many are afraid of living, because of the risks. Some of our fears are unfounded and we need to separate those from the real threats. Sadly, the events of the past few days are looming large over our sense of security and peace.

Fear is a paralyzing vampire that chokes and sucks the joy right out of our souls! We are mostly afraid of things that we cannot control. So when the world seems to be topsy turvy, how do we move through the fear storms?   Referring to the above quote, courage is the judgement that something else is more important than fear. So how do we connect with this courage?

Here are some steps I have found to be helpful when I feel that I am succumbing to “interfearance.”

  1. We do not have to be a reflection of the negativity that is occurring. What is happening on the outside doesn’t have to be what is happening on the inside. When we see the horror unfolding and we can’t change it, what we CAN change is the way we are letting it affect us. Easier said than done, of course…but it is possible. When we allow fear to consume us and live as if we are doomed, of course we will find little peace.
  2. We should let our hope be greater than our fear. When we lose hope, we lose ground in our battle against fear. I like to think of hope as Holding Onto Positive Expectations. Hope is much more powerful than we give it credit for being. If we want to live in a world that is richer in love and joy, we must not feed our fear but we should nourish our hope!
  3. Don’t desert laughter and joy! Some may think that it is disrespectful, frivolous or useless to practice laughter in times of great challenge. Ding Dong…that is wrong! Appropriate laughter is always healthy and participating in it certainly doesn’t disrespect a terrible situation; indeed, it is just the opposite. Allowing ourselves to be robbed of joy is much more disrespectful than taking a stand against fear. Nothing is gained by falling into a pit of despair, and evil thrives on hopelessness. We should surround ourselves with positive people and support one another in our search for hope and joy. We should not let terror shut down our dreams, but rather live the words of Nelson Mandela, “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”


“No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” —Edmund Burke

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker and trainer. Check out her website at


Two Appropriate “F” Words

April 29, 2014

During my days of teaching kindergarten, I was approached by a five-year-old who ran across the playground with a red face, intense eyes, and a mouth poised in preparation for a tattle. When she got to me, the words just spilled out. Someone had used the “F” word. Before I had a chance to ask any questions or follow up with the offender, the rest of the explanation came out. “He called me the F word and it isn’t true because I am NOT Fat!” She was correct. He had used an F word, but thankfully, it wasn’t the one I was dreading.

I had to hold back the laughter and deal with the situation, but the memory has stuck with me and I still chuckle about it. Recently, due to events in my own life, I have had occasion to think about two more words starting with the letter F; and these are acceptable words. One is Fear and the other is Faith.
Fear can paralyze you. It can stem from anything you have ever experienced, learned, seen or heard. Most of our fears come from past failures or experiences which have been unpleasant. They can also rise out of low self-esteem. Fear is learned. It has its roots in many things and those roots can reach right down into your gut and stay there in a big knot.

So how do you deal with it? First of all, you take a good look at it and decide whether what you fear is really based in fact, or if it is just something that you perceive to be threatening. Next, realize that you have the power to reduce that fear down to the size of a little speck and then squash it. You do this by taking steps to face it. Maybe you need to take baby steps or maybe you need to jump in with both feet; that is up to you. But, when you begin to deal with the situation, expose it for what it really is and understand that the chances are good that you are exaggerating the danger in your mind; fear loses its power over you. Visualize yourself conquering your monster, whatever it may be.

Faith can help you deal with fear….but it has to be greater than your fear. If you have a Higher Power in which you believe, then you must nurture your faith and turn to it when you feel fear’s icy grip creeping in. And you must have faith in yourself; who you are and what you can accomplish. You are probably stronger than you think and you have the ability to overcome challenges. But faith cannot be put on the shelf and just pulled off every now and then. It has to be used and practiced on a regular basis. The more you use it, the stronger it becomes and the Faith word can conquer the Fear word any old day!


October 22, 2013


Many of us are walking through fear-storms. When the world seems to turn upside down, some of the anchors on which we have relied seem to disappear and fear seems to rule the day. These days, it seems as if fear is at epidemic proportions. You might say that we are living in a polluted “atmosfear.”

People are afraid of any number of things….the dark, being alone, snakes, spiders, heights, water, flying, politicians, giant meatballs. I am afraid of wearing a swimsuit, but that’s just me.  Many people are afraid of dying, but sadder still…many are afraid of living.

Fear can be confusing. Sometimes we tend to feel that if we hold on to our fears, we are protecting ourselves by being vigilant. Ding dong, that’s wrong. It is wrong on many levels.  For one thing, there is a difference between being cautious and being scared stiff! Being zapped by the “fangs of fear” is like being stung by a scorpion. It can fill you with poison and immobilize you.

So what are we to do when things seem to be spinning out of control? Fear begins with a thought. It starts as a worry or a doubt and grows into a full-blown fear….of losing something that we love or of not getting what we want or think we need.  Fear is a bully and it thrives on our belief in it.  When we look at it for what it really is, a trickster who wants to cloud the truth and dominate us, we can begin to recognize that we have options.  There is really no reason to live in the grip of fear because to do so, strangles hope and prevents us from living in peace.   But it is difficult to toss fear out on its ear because it is sneaky! It appears in the form of worry, anger, jealousy, doubt and confusion. But it does have a powerful enemy and that is HOPE!  Just as it only takes one little candle to light the darkness, so it is that one little spark of hope can begin to loosen the grip of fear.  

Here are some steps that I have found helpful when I begin to feel the cold fingers of fear closing around my throat. (Whoa…Stephen King just took over my brain!)


  1. Determine whether you are facing a real threat or an imagined one.  Sometimes our minds run in all directions at once and a perceived threat becomes a huge monster in our heads. We blow it up to outrageous proportions and panic sets in.  Don’t catastrophize…calm down and look at things realistically.

 2.  If you assess the situation and feel that you are facing something real, put it into perspective and realize that you have the capability to deal with it without pushing the panic button.  You have options.  Make a plan of action.

 3.  Breathe.

 4.   Don’t feed your fear because it will devour you. Instead, feed your hope…. Hold Onto Positive Expectations. A fear driven life is a life not fully lived.


Most of the shadows of life are caused by standing in our own sunshine.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Set Your Mental Channel to Confidence

August 22, 2013

Sweaty palms, racing heart, an overpowering sense of impending doom….do any of these things sound familiar to you? Personally, I experience all of them when I am about to venture out in public wearing a bathing suit, but that’s just me.

Actually, these are sensations that many people feel when they are placed in an unfamiliar or uncomfortable situation. Many of us lack confidence when we are asked to step out of our comfort zone; possibly because we no longer feel in control of the situation.
Perhaps you have been told, at some time in your life, that you are not qualified or not good enough to do something. Maybe you have been compared, (or compared yourself) to someone else and you just didn’t measure up. Or it could be that you have felt embarrassed by failing at something that you attempted and have let it affect your self-esteem. Most of these feelings come from messages that we have received from sources that don’t have your best interest at heart. Don’t let these false assessments of your abilities define how you feel about yourself!

So, how does one build confidence in oneself? Begin by throwing out all of the negative images about yourself that you have stored in your brain. Remind yourself that your opinion of your worth is just as important as anyone else’s opinion of your value….probably more important. Think about how many opportunities you may be missing by clinging to false beliefs. And remember that in most cases, not being in perfect mastery of a skill when you first start out, is not unusual or disastrous.

Next, remember that feeling confident doesn’t mean that you have to know everything there is to know about your new experience, job, endeavor, etc. It simply means that you believe that you will be able to figure it out. Think back on all of the times that you learned something new. When you were in school, and were first shown all of those things called letters, you didn’t know how to put them together to make words, but you learned. When you first got behind the wheel of a car, you probably were a little shaky, but you were also probably determined to drive and that determination overcame the fear. When you first saw a computer, you probably didn’t know how to use all of the functions, and maybe you’re still learning…but somehow, you figured it out. Every new adventure requires taking baby steps and building to a level of competence. With each new level of competency, you gain more comfort and confidence.

The first time I had to get up in front of an audience to sing, when I was a little girl, I remember being scared to death and hiding in the coat closet. My teacher told me to picture the audience in their underwear. That made me feel worse, because I certainly didn’t want to see that! But then my kind father quietly said, “Just sing and enjoy the moment. There is nothing that can happen that will make one bit of difference in the way the earth spins. You will be just as valuable as a person whether you sound like a bird or a frog!” Those words ring in my head every time I step out on a stage.

It hurts my heart to hear people say things like, “I have no confidence in myself.” That is the same as saying that you don’t think you can learn and if you don’t know everything all at once, you are a washout. Nobody starts out knowing everything, but people who have switched their mental channel to receive the message, “I am an amazing creation with the capability to learn, and it doesn’t matter if I am perfect” are way ahead of the game! Sometimes we have to fake it ’til we make it!

Lighting the Path to Greatness

December 14, 2011

Like most people, I am confused and distressed by what is going on in the world. I’m not referring to the economic situation or the political fighting or the environment, although those are real challenges. I’m more concerned about the way people seem to be treating each other. We are all under stress and strain and I suppose that is what is making people rather…well….snarky, for lack of a better word.  It seems as if a lot of us are wound up tighter than a bad perm!  People are angry behind the wheel, as well. Every time I have to drive somewhere, I feel like I’m in the middle of “carmageddon!”


We’re in a society that seems to put people at odds with each other, in that we are led to believe that you can’t win unless another person loses.  It’s becoming a little too important to hold onto what we have and to make sure no one else gets what we might want or think we might need in the future. We can’t afford to help other people because we are afraid we will lose something in the process.  In other words, we are ignoring the concept of working together and coming to solutions that benefit us all. Fear seems to be the “mood du jour” every day!


Possibly, we need a global attitude adjustment. I know I do! Sometimes, I feel like the elastic of my life is about ready to snap, sending me flinging across the room like a deflated balloon. That feeling usually has its roots in fear. When we are afraid of losing something; whether it is money, status, attention, opportunity, or perhaps just control over our own lives, we hold onto and protect everything we have…and sadly, we also cling to our fears! It’s time for a reminder that listening to, respecting, helping, and dare I say…loving other people does not weaken us; it strengthens us. We become more powerful when we step out and face our fears. The true energy zappers are our fears of failure or loss, and anger at those who believe differently than we do!


A while ago, to calm myself in a moment of panic, I wrote this poem. I’d like to share it with you. Hopefully, it will serve as encouragement and a reminder that hope can be more powerful than fear.



Lighting the Path to Greatness


There is a place in each of us where fear and hope reside

The test of who we really are is when these things collide

When we let ourselves climb higher, even knowing we might fall,

That tumble might just prove to be the greatest gift of all.


For it is in our failures that we find the message clear

In trying, we sing songs of joy and triumph over fear

We should seek not to be honored for our riches or our fame

Rather, greatness comes in rising from the ashes of our shame.


A life spent without challenge might be safe, but somehow wasted

For without the snares and obstacles, sweet victory can’t be tasted

We all were born to greatness…we have only to believe

That we were given all the tools to help us to achieve.


For the proof of our importance is just that we’re alive

And our purpose on this earth is to help others to survive

When we light the path for someone else, we light our own as well

And the spark of light with which we lead is where our greatness dwells.