When we think of fearlessness, we often think of daredevils like Evil Knievel or Derek Hersey; people who regularly, and intentionally, put themselves into dangerous situations either for fun or profit.
There are indeed people who like the thrill of danger, but that is not what everyday life fearlessness is about. The kind of fearlessness that we can have in homeschooling and in life, is an acceptance that life is naturally a series of events, some of them “good”, some “bad’, and that we are capable of dealing with the bad things that happen. With this kind of view of life and of homeschooling, we aren’t afraid of events because we are confident in ourselves to take effective and sensible views on these events. Fearlessness is a state of being comfortable with uncertainty, and a knowledge that nothing, no matter how horrible, can destroy us. And if it does destroy us, there is absolutely nothing we can do about it right now, except live the best we can.
It’s OK to be afraid once in a while. But what we are truly afraid of is not that bad things will happen. We KNOW bad things will happen. It’s the way the universe works. The pendulum between good and bad swings back and forth, and also changes as our views of the world changes. What we might consider “good” one day, will turn to be “bad” the next, simply because of changes in our own minds.
No, when we are afraid, we are not afraid of the events. We are afraid of our own lack of personal power to deal with those events. We are afraid of ourselves.
To be fearless, we have to be in a state where we trust ourselves, and we know that if we are presented with stressful events, we can deal with them. We don’t have to convince ourselves that everything will be OK, or that we can even fix anything. It’s a confidence of our own mind, that we have the mental capacity to let go when we need to, and act when we need to. As the saying goes, the only fear is of fear itself.
Becoming fearless is an internal process of self-understanding. It’s an internal process of self-like and self-appreciation. It’s also a process of losing our attachment to thinking that things outside ourselves define who we are.
– things will happen. It’s inevitable. And we won’t like some of those things. We will deal with it when it happens. We will make reasonable precautions to avoid certain kinds of things we don’t want, but sometimes, those precautions won’t work, and that’s just how it is. Having emotions and reactions to things that haven’t happened yet is detrimental to current lives.
– we are capable and smart individuals. Everything we need is inside us.
– we have friends and family who will support us. A huge step in becoming fearless is to create a strong structure of support.
– fear is a natural emotion. If we feel it, get comfortable with it. Accept it. Embrace it. Get to know it. We’re getting to know ourselves when we accept fear along with all the other emotions we have.
– we can’t handle everything. Most things aren’t our responsibility to deal with. If we feel like we are spinning our wheels, we probably are, and it’s time to get off the bike.
– if we mess up, it’s a learning experience, not the end. It’s only the end if we decide it is. It’s only “bad” if we look at failure that way.
– we have internal truths that only we have access to, and can never really be expressed. Other people’s judgments of us never change that. Other people can only distract us from those truths, and only if we let them.
Being fearless requires that we know ourselves, face ourselves, and most importantly, trust ourselves. When we are fearless, we accept fear, we accept that things fall apart, and we move ahead anyway. The more often we do this, the more often we fail and recover, fail and recover, the more we learn how to be successful. It’s when we fail, and then lose ourself in that failure that we get stuck in fear, and it becomes our master.
In Deschooling Gently: A Step by Step Guide to Fearless Homeschooling, I talk some about these concepts in relation to the ins and out of daily homeschooling life. But these precepts are also true about life in general. Once we are fearless in homeschooling, it starts to trickle out into everything else.
Pema Chodron has two books on fearlessness that changed the way I think about myself and about dealing with difficult emotions and events: When Things Fall Apart and The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times. I invite you to seek these out. They might even be at your local library.
What are you afraid of? What is keeping you from being a fearless homeschooler, a fearless parent, and a fearless person? If you consider yourself fairly fearless, was it always like that?