Fear, Spiders, Conservatives, and the Gay Community (or ‘Is Fear Running Your Show?’)

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

Yesterday I read Jen Louden’s article, “A Touch of Lightness,” in the October issue of Fear.less Magazine. It was a healthy reminder that being fearless isn’t about stomping fear, but working through it.

We get to decide that fear isn’t running the show.’

~ Jen Louden, Fear.less Magazine

Last week I opened my back door to find a giant spider hanging in a web directly in front of me, blocking the entryway to our patio. Fear overcame me. I panicked. I wanted to tell the Wildcat not to go outside, I wanted to tell her not to let Jackson outside. Instead, I left the door wide open and kept repeating, Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod…

My behavior made Jackson curious, and he walked right past me, through the door, and into the web. The Wildcat and I looked on in horror, as the spider dangled from his neck, at which point I screamed. Not a blood curdling scream, not a scream of a 35-year-old woman, not a scream of a human being at all. My neighbor came out in a panic, wanting to know if an animal had been hit by a car. I was embarrassed to tell him it had just been me, reacting to a spider in our patio.

While I allowed fear to grip me, the Wildcat grabbed a paper towel and set out to remove the spider from Jackson’s neck. There was so much confusion, I didn’t realize that she didn’t actually get the spider, that it had fallen away and scurried off to an unseen crack or crevice to carry on with its business once we were gone.

The next day while clearing out dead leaves from a poorly-cared-for basil plant in our patio, I thought nothing of the spider. As I trimmed the leaves from another plant on the outdoor table, I thought nothing of the spider. It wasn’t until I went to toss the pruned leaves into the trash that I thought of the spider again, as it sat amongst the dead leaves and twigs I’d just cut.

Fear. Panic. Anxiety. I was all alone, with no Wildcat to save me. I must do this alone.

After a moment of contemplation, I devised a plan, and then attempted to calmly, coolly carry it out. I’m not a huge fan of killing bugs just because I don’t like them. But I feared that spider. And so I lashed out. Even in my calmness, the plan I created was to kill. Spray with bug spray, then stomp it with a shoe, just to be sure. And so it was.

Today this makes me think about how much of the conservative crowd has reacted to the gay community: Stomp what you fear. Kill it, and then you don’t have to find out what its motives are, how it contributes to society, what its good qualities are.
Of course, I’m not comparing the gay community to spiders, only using this story to illustrate the parallels of fear.

We can allow fear to guide us through our lives by continuing to be afraid of the things we don’t like or understand, the things we don’t know, the things that are not like us; or we can choose to look our fears in the eye and ask them questions. Who are you? What do you want here? How are you trying to serve me?

But it’s not enough to just ask the questions, then we’ve got to sit still and listen for the answers. Listen for the answers with genuine curiosity, instead of preparing an opposing argument.

Had I been curious about the spider’s purpose rather than reactionary to my own fear, I might have let the spider continue on its course, keeping tabs on the insects in the area and keeping them to a minimum. I also might have taken the same course of action. The point is, it wouldn’t have been fear running my show, it would have been me.

I’ve found myself assuming the worst of people around me who don’t appear to be or think like me. Catching myself in the act is sobering to my Ego. The Ego runs and hides while I choose to let go of assumptions and ask questions. Sometimes it’s a question as simple as, Will you hear me out? And sometimes I have to dig deeper.

I find that if I can ask the same of myself that I ask of others—to be heard out—I operate less from a state of fear, and more from a place of authenticity. I am more myself when I am not in fear. This becomes a powerful tool in my life, not because I’ve beat myself over the head with it, but because I’ve let it become part of my way of life.

I’d like to know how fear has taken hold of your life or actions … I’d like to know what you do to get a grip on those fears … I’d like to know your thoughts and comments on asking questions versus acting out of fear. And luckily there’s a comment section below for you to share any and all of that …


emma October.7.2010 at 4.46 pm

A gorgeous post, my friend – the story, the message.

I, too, hate spiders. I point them out to Bella and beg her to kill them. Maybe next time, I’ll gently nudge them out the window… or not.

Amanda Hite October.8.2010 at 1.55 am

Recently I’ve had some tough lessons in physical pain. I ruptured a disc in my back and have had to face my fear of “needles” and losing control. I believe in a principle of change that you accept it quickly and look for the lesson. By doing that in this situation my physical injury has taught me lessons in awareness in some of my life’s behaviors and paradigms. On another note the damage that fear and hate among anti-gay ppl in this country is causing disturb me beyond belief. Great post as always…

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