“Named must your fear be before banish it you can.”
She comes down to our room bleary-eyed and grumpy. I take one look at her and can tell she didn’t sleep well. As she snuggles between us for her morning cuddle it is no surprise to hear the words, “I had a bad dream, Mummy.”
So we inquire about her dream, asking her to speak out loud the images that haunted her in the night. She is reluctant, but we persist until slowly and haltingly she shares her nightmare.
As our daughter brings her fears into the light, and we talk about them, she visibly relaxes. We see her unwind as she names her fears and discusses them in the broad light of day. We then talk about strategies to help her, letting her know that she has agency.
My husband and I strongly believe that naming fears is very important. Not just the fears that come from bad dreams or bumps in the night, but also the fears of a regular school day, or a new activity. In our family the statement, ‘I’m afraid’ is always followed by the question, ‘What are you afraid of?’
And that is a good question for all of us as we start a new year.
What are you afraid of?
You may have made some goals for this year, maybe you have a new creative adventure you want to embark on, maybe have set yourself a challenge in your career, or are about to embark on a new course of study.
In January it is very easy to set goals. It is a lot harder to bring them to fruition. Maybe you are looking at the very large goal in front of you and it looks so huge that you cannot even conceive the next step; you are paralysed by the size and the scope of your dream.
What would happen if you name that fear?
I am afraid of failing.
I am afraid of not having enough money to support my goals.
I am afraid that I don’t have the business savvy to accomplish this.
It is in naming your fears and bringing them out into the light that you can then tackle them. You can organise a savings plan, you can do a small business course, or you can set up a study buddy.
An unnamed fear is intangible and by its very nature cannot be tackled. But a named fear, that is just a stepping-stone on your way to achieving your dreams.
I started this post with a quote from a fictional icon of our time, and I leave you with more wise words from another, Professor Albus Dumbledore!
Call him Voldemort, Harry. Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.
Here is to naming our fears in 2018, and using them as our next steps towards our dreams.