You may already know the story of the Hummingbird’s Part, but it’s worth retelling because the story deals with how people face fear, both personally and in groups.
The forest was shining and green, dense with trees, flowers and food. The animals played and worked together by the river, tending their homes and sharing their lives. Out of nowhere, a storm erupted and bolts of lightening shattered the peace. One bolt of lightening struck an old tree and suddenly, fire was everywhere. The animals did not know what to do. They were filled with fear and ran this way and that, trying to save themselves, their possessions and their families. While the forest burned, Monkey saw Hummingbird doing something different from the rest. He was going back and forth from river to fire, carrying droplets of water in his tiny beak and tossing them on the flames. Monkey screamed and pointed at him, stopping the animals around them in their tracks. He said to Hummingbird, “What are you doing there, Hummingbird? Everyone knows you can’t save this forest with your tiny drops of water!” Hummingbird kept working, but he replied to Monkey, “I am doing my part.”
What does this story have to say about fear?
1. Scary things happen!
COLIBRI hates to be the bearer of bad news, but If you are totally unprepared, unexpected and scary events will hit you harder than if you give a little attention to a Plan B. We’re not talking obsessing, which is what people usually do.
In the story, the animals had never considered what would happen if their lives changed. They were living in the moment, which is generally a good thing, but denial, ignorance and avoidance are not helpful.
COLIBRI has noticed that, in real life, people tend to let their fears creep around them, usually behind their backs, and that just creates a feeling of constant uncertainty. Who needs it?
Choose the middle ground, which is being aware in order to prepare.
2. What are you afraid of?
Instead of letting your fears chase you, turn around, grab them by the scruffs of their necks, and, if nothing else, put them on paper. COLIBRI knows this might be scary all by itself, but by writing down your fears, you will see them for what they are.
You will find out which fears are realistic, and which seem kind of silly when you take a look at them in cold, hard light.
The animals in the forest were right to be afraid. Forest fires are deadly, which brings COLIBRI to her next point.
You have probably heard that fear serves a function. It makes you take action. But ongoing, unexamined fear does nothing for you.
By all means, be afraid if your house is on fire. If, however, you fear your house might catch fire in the unknown future, ask yourself why. Maybe it’s because you live in an old Victorian in which the wiring has not been updated since your grandmother lived there. Fine. Don’t be afraid, call a bank, get some financing and hire an electrician. COLIBRI knows it’s a hassle, but not as much hassle as a crispy black Victorian would be.
3. The Hummingbird take home.
How did Hummingbird handle a scary situation? He took action. He took reasonable action.
Hands down, the best antidote to fear and anxiety is action.
- Write down your fears
- Analyze them
- Make a plan for the realistic ones
- Shout no at the unrealistic ones (even if you have to shout more than once!)
- Take action on your plans
- Pat yourself on the back for even trying. COLIBRI knows, fear is scary.
Your turn: how do you handle fear?