Sitting on a Bench with Fear and Other Emotions

The day I finally stopped running from my fear and met her, my whole life changed.

What if our fear is actually a blessing and once we learn what we need from her, she goes away or is much quieter?

I don’t know about you, but I’m guessing you like feeling FEAR about as much as I do.  Yeah not so much!  I have spent a lot of my life feeling and running away from fear.  I let her kind of rule my life and many decisions have been made based solely on what she has to say.  She is big and bold and loud and it’s hard not to listen to her.

Why do I refer to fear as if she was a female person and her name is Fear?  Let me explain.  Fear is just a part of us.  As is Happiness, Sadness, Joy, Excitement.  All emotions are a part of us.  Some therapists will talk about this as doing “parts work” because we are focusing on just a single part of ourselves at a time.  Fear happens to also be an emotion.  We know that our thoughts create our feelings, our feelings create our actions and our actions create our outcomes.  And if our feelings basically decide what we do then I really want to understand this more and figure out how to use this to my advantage.  Years ago, before I learned The Life Coaching Model, I was at a retreat where I was encouraged to ask the fear inside me what it was trying to tell me.  I had such a hard time doing it.  I couldn’t really access that part of me.  During freetime I went outside in the warm sun of southern Utah and sat on a bench.  I had my journal in hand, ready to figure out how to access my fear.  I closed my eyes and tried to find my fear.  Then I opened my eyes and looked at the empty part of the bench next to me.  And it was almost as if I could see her.  My fear.  Except she looked like me.  It was like I was looking in a mirror, seeing myself sitting on the bench next to me.  In my minds eye I then had a conversation that went something like this:

(F=Fear, M=Me)

M: Hello

F: Hello, I’m your fear.

M: Oh!  Hello.  I think I’ve been trying to find you.

F: Yes, I know.  You have made an art out of hiding from me.  Thank you for inviting me to sit next to you.

M: To be honest I’m kind of scared.

F: Then you are doing this right.  Good job!

M: Wait, what?  I’m doing it RIGHT if I’m scared?!?

F: Of course you are.  Everyone needs their Fear.  And everyone needs their Happy, Sad, Joyful…All your emotions.  You need all of us.

M: Hmm.  Why?  Feeling fear is so unpleasant.

F: Well, maybe that part you might be doing a little wrong.  Why does it feel so unpleasant?

M: I mean, it’s FEAR!  I’d much rather just feel the happy emotions.

F: Oh.  Sure.  That’s probably normal.  But what if instead of running from me, you just heard what I had to say and then you could move on to other things?

M: Wait, you just want to tell me something?  You aren’t trying to ruin my whole day by making me feel awful?

F: Of course not.  I just have little messages for you sometimes.  Would that be ok if I just talked to you sometimes and then went away after?

M: Um, yeah that sounds way better than feeling like I’m spending all day running.  But how do I do that?

F: Look, when you start to feel me getting near, just pause for a moment.  Take a deep breath.  Just say “hey fear, what’s up?  What do you want to tell me today?”  Then I’ll just tell you what I’m seeing, we can decide together if we need to take any action, and then I’ll go back to the quiet parts of your mind again.

M: Really?  Ok.  Let me try. “Hey girl, what’s up?  What are you trying to tell me today?”

F: Really good job. “Hey Kendra, I noticed that you are getting yourself all worked up about the future because you are worried it will just turn out like the past.”

M: Yup.  Am I not supposed to do that?  Because I did not like how this went in the past and I really don’t want to repeat myself.

F: I get that.  But how you think about the future is totally up to you.  They are just your thoughts.  What if instead of worrying history will repeat itself you thought “I’m smarter now, and I know how to not make the same choices I did before.  I know how to take care of myself.”

M: Dude, I would totally rather think that.

F: Perfect.  Then just think that. It’s your call. You always get to decide what your thoughts are!

M: I do?  It seems like there’s a catch.  What’s the catch?!

F: No catch.  Not really.  It’s just going to take practice.  So my advice of what you need to do is when I show up, or any of my sister emotions, you just invite us each to sit on this bench with you and see what we have to say.  Then, you decide what you are going to think about it.

M: So instead of running away from you I just need to sit for a minute, hear you out, and then I get to decide what I think about it.

F: YES!  You always get to decide.  If you spend too long running from me and I feel like I have something to say I can get really loud trying to get your attention.  That’s when you start to feel really overwhelmed.  So instead, slow down, take a deep breath, sit on the bench, and say “Hey girl!  What you got for me today?”  And then we move on.  Just as quickly as we began, you’ll be done with me and can think whatever you want.

M: Ok, I can do that.  Thanks for sitting and having this long chat.  Next time I see you coming I promise I’ll try to just have a seat and hear you out.

F: Perfect.  You’ve got this.  See you soon.

M: Ok, see you soon.  But not TOO soon please!

F: Ha!  You’ll get the hang of this.  I’ll see you soon, probably sooner than you think.

And that is how I learned to sit with my fear.  I actually really like her.  She’s got some great things to say and her perspective is unique and powerful.  She believes in me and wants the best for me.  That part was a surprise.  I thought she was out to ruin my life. But no, she really just wants to be heard.

And so does your fear. And your anxiety, love, frustration, excitement, and all of your other emotions.  They want to be heard.  And the best part is, we get to decide what we are going to think about something.  If we find that we had a thought that led us to an unwanted emotion, hear her out, and then change the thought.  We really do have the power to create the life we want.  We just have to harness the power of our brains.  You’ve got this!!  You’ve got Fear and all her sisters on your side.

As always, these are my thoughts and my thoughts alone.  My stories, nor the life coaching I do, ever replace a trained and licensed therapist and I recommend everyone find a therapist they love.  You can start your search at

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Kendra Last Avatar

My name is Kendra Last

I’m a life coach and author of the book Journaling to Recovery: A Reference Guide to Healing from Betrayal Trauma. I have been working in the betrayal recovery world for almost a decade. I’ve been there, and I will help you let go of the pain of the past, help you recognize your own inner beauty and strength, and help you learn to celebrate yourself again.

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