Several years ago I met a woman who had spent her childhood in an insane asylum.
Not as a patient…
She hadn’t been committed.
It was her daycare.
Her mother couldn’t afford a sitter, and she worked at the asylum.
So, every day, she brought her daughter to work, and let her run around and play with the patients.
Of course, a parent would never be allowed such an unusual style of childcare these days.
But this was decades ago.
When I met the woman, she was probably in her fifties.
But even after all that time, you could see the effect of her childhood in her demeanor and personality.
She was one of the most unusual and unnerving people I’ve ever met.
Her eyes were always wide.
Her mannerisms were awkward.
Her head kept an odd angle.
And her rules of personal space, if she had them at all, were clearly different than what most of us would consider appropriate.
The overall impression wasn’t subtle.
And it didn’t take more than a few moments with her to conclude that she was completely batshit, Jack-Nicholson-at-a-typewriter crazy…
Except that she wasn’t crazy.
She had learned her demeanor and her social skills like all the rest of us…
From her childhood companions.
From the patients at the asylum…
She was raised crazy.
And we were raised the same way.
Not with insanity—but with fear.
We all live with a tremendous amount of fear.
Fear of rejection… Of change… Of being seen…
Some of it is earned…
Through tragedy or a broken heart.
But some of it we pick up from the people around us.
We empathize and mimic and accept it as our own.
The fear was never really ours.
But we take it with us anyway.
Year after year, bit after bit, we add to our collection.
We carry our minds clenched tight, like a fist full of gravel.
Bearing down on each little fear—each little wound—because if we hold them tight enough, we won’t feel them stir.
And if we grip them long enough…
We won’t feel them at all.
It’s just easier that way…
Or it would be…
If life didn’t draw down and buckle beneath the weight…
But are you really afraid?
Is the fear really yours?
The next time you feel afraid—to feel something, to do something, to express something—don’t just rise above it.
Don’t power through.
And don’t distract yourself with something else.
Instead, try something new…
Remember back to when you felt that fear before.
This isn’t the first time you’ve felt it…
Were the circumstances similar?
Did something bad actually happen?
Remember back again… and again.
Keep going and see if you can find the first time you felt that way.
Was the fear earned?
Or did you learn it from someone else?
Like the woman in the asylum?
It’s not about judging.
It’s not about reprimanding.
It’s not even about forgiveness.
It’s about clarity and perspective.
It’s about being aware of the knots in your mind—and the stones in your heart—and remembering where you found them.
You don’t need to drop them.
You don’t need to overcome.
You don’t need to do anything.
Leave all that for some other time…
For now, just see what’s there.
See what’s yours. And what isn’t.
It’s nice to dream that someday we could be fearless.
That we could rush, headfirst and joyous, into any situation…
But for now, let’s dream smaller.
We all live with a tremendous amount of “fear.”
Just like the “crazy” woman from the asylum.
But what would your life look like, if the only fears you carried with you were your own?
If you let down the stones you borrowed?
How would things change?
What would you do? Who would you be?
Is that a life you want?
Is that a YOU you want?
If you liked this post, please consider sharing, along with a brief comment of what you thought… It doesn’t sound like much. But these small gestures make a tremendous impact on building our community, and helping other wayward rebels find a perspective that they can resonate with.
And if it spoke to you, why not Join the Tribe? It's free.. And this is just one tiny piece of more than two decades of impassioned work...... And YOU probably belong here with the rest of us!!
In any case, thanks so much for stopping by! – \m/ – Z
About Zach Herbert
I teach people to do cool things with their consciousness, and break their brains with beautiful ideas.
Professional heretic. Unlikely mystic. Host to rebels, misfits and independent thinkers.
Find out more here. And follow me on Facebook at: