– Michael R., Alumni
Fear, like pain, may not be the most pleasurable experience to have to endure but that doesn’t mean that there cannot be valuable information obtained nonetheless. Without these often unsettling indicators, we would not be able to make the required course changes so as to avoid an even more challenging set of circumstances. Sometimes, taking a deep breath and gaining a wider view is both the hardest and most valuable thing we can do when faced with challenging conditions and situations.
Things I used to be afraid of in my first few days, weeks, months and even years of my sobriety are no longer scary to me. That doesn’t mean they were not good and helpful warning signs at the time. It simply means that time has moved on and so has the nature and quality of my Recovery. There may be new and different things to cause fear and alarm in my life and to my sobriety but they, too, will eventually rise and likely fall by the wayside to be replaced by still other, now unimaginable, concerns.
Sometimes our fears are great tools because they act as much-needed, provisional, teachers; sometimes they are based on thoughts and feelings that are valid and helpful. Many times our fear are based on the instinct for survival. Then again, there are moments when we can find ourselves ruled irrationally by fear and worry to the point of non-action and inertia. These are likely the times when we can find fear to be not only a poor friend but a lousy master.
Yesterday, I was at a Step/Tradition Meeting where these words were read aloud: “After all, isn’t fear the true basis of intolerance?….How could we then guess that all those fears were to prove groundless?” (“Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions,” p. 140).
Perhaps the only way to really know the difference between a valuable tool and a horrible master is to humbly ask our Higher Power for the wisdom to tell them apart.