I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about fear since I started this blog, as it is the emotion, usually, that necessitates courage. If we’re not afraid of something, we don’t need courage to do it. We might need resolve or self-discipline (to mop the floors or mow the lawn, to get ready for work on a Monday, or do four miles on the treadmill), but we don’t need courage. Since I’m specifically trying to live more courageously, that requires me to confront my fears. How do I prioritize them, decide which ones to tackle and, hopefully, overcome? I could rank them in order from greatest fear (dying before my girls are grown) to most insignificant fear (lots of competition for this one, but let’s go with worry that a pedicurist will be horrified by my toenail fungus). Such a ranking doesn’t exactly suggest a roadmap for attacking the fears. Alternately, I could rank them by how they impact my life … Aah, now we’re getting somewhere.

Using the latter ranking method, I’ve come to believe it’s not worth trying to get over some fears because it would take more energy to combat them than to live with them. For instance, I’m afraid of spiders. I’ve been known to let out a small shriek if I come across one unexpectedly, and to ask my long-suffering husband or youngest daughter to remove the encroaching arachnid. They flat-out give me the creeps with their eight creepy legs and creepy swollen abdomens. Yuckamundo.

I’m a live and let live kind of gal, however, and I’m not out to eradicate the species as long as its members stick to the rules: stay out of my house. If they scuttle into my basement, bathroom or bedroom, though, I’m more likely to whap them with a shoe or handy periodical than attempt to relocate them (especially if the aforementioned husband and daughter are not around). Please don’t try to convince me that spiders are useful critters that do lots of good; I know it and it doesn’t make a whit of difference.

I’ve read about therapies that help one become friendlier with spiders, that lead up to holding one and allowing it to tickle your palm with its eight creepy legs. Ooh—sorry—I’m repeating myself. What does that accomplish? I come face to face with a mere handful (figuratively speaking, of course) of spiders in a year, usually in my basement. It hardly seems worth the investment of time and money to go through an arachnid desensitization course to spare myself a few tense moments eight or ten times annually.

My energy is better spent, I’ve decided, on working with those fears that have a negative impact my life. I won’t list them here, but they involve relationship issues, one-in-a-million shot fears that prey on my mind, travel fears (more and more as I age … a sad trend), and the like.

Some of you, I suspect, are eager to tell me that I’m rationalizing in order to avoid confronting my arachnophobia. You could be right—do we ever really understand all the reasons behind our choices?—but I’m sticking to this path. Do you have fears you’ve chosen not to deal with? Or do you feel there’s value in conquering all your fears, facing down every phobia, whether or not it routinely impacts your quality of life?

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