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Woman Riding Horse

Fear Can Be An Obstacle or A Resource

Fear can be a destructive emotion when it causes us to freeze or get so flustered we feel lost. As Takehisa Kora explains it in his How to Live Well: Secrets of Using Neurosis, “If we do not accept things as they are, and if we try to rid ourselves of them, then our minds tend to stay with them.” Recognizing fear as an emotional energy pattern, we can use it as a motivating force instead of tying ourselves down with our own worries. Dr. Reo Leslie, LPC, LMFT, CACIII, RPT-S, DAACS, MAC, Executive Director, Colorado School for Family Therapy, taught me how cognitive behavioral techniques (CBT) can help motivate a shift away from attitudes and behaviors no longer serving our wellness.

I learned how to ride the shifts in life during my teenage years from a powerful stallion named Tiger. After a traumatic event in my life, my parents sent me to my grandparents in Oklahoma who put me in a summer riding camp. When helping with prepping the horses and afternoon clean-up, I watched how some of the horses could sense fear in their riders. A stallion named Tiger was an expert at it. He seemed to buck those who were afraid just for fun. Most of the camp instructors were anxious around him and often refused to ride him.

Mount Your Fear

Yet, Tiger would let me ride him bareback. The instructors encouraged me to do so with hopes others would be riding him soon as well. One afternoon when I had him in a walk around the arena, I noticed the camp instructors had left a gate open. Clenching the rope reins in one hand and grabbing a bit of Tiger’s mane in the other, I leaned forward and whispered forcefully in his ear, “Let’s go! ”

Tiger’s ears shot straight up. Then with a slight jump and a loud neigh, Tiger took off through the gate at a full gallop. As we entered the nearby forest, my fear told me to keep my head next to his neck and below his ears. While racing through the trees, the branches snapped and the world became a blur. The yelling and screaming of the camp staff receded as we sped away. My fear of falling off caused me to use every nerve and muscle in my body to stay upright.

Enjoy the Ride

The intensity of the experience kept me focused on blending with the movement of his muscles. We were one being in motion. It was the ride of a lifetime. What it taught me was how fear, sometimes, can be a powerful tool for focusing our attention, keeping all the senses alert. Fear does not have to limit us or leave us feeling lost. Instead, when we listen to our fear carefully, its energy can be transformative, freeing, an inspiration. And sometimes, a wild ride!

Transforming fear into a positive force in your life can be exhilarating. Counseling can help you transcend fear and avoid some of those tree branches along the way.

– Carol O’Dowd, MPA, MDIV, MI, RP
Prajna Healing Arts