Once day a confident and cheerful lady walked through my door. I was at home with my little girl who said a quick hello and started milling about curiously as I chatted with the stranger.
An hour later, the woman became a part of our household and went about settling in as I carried on with some work on the table.
The next time the lady passed by, my little girl ran after her asking her why she “wasn’t putting her left foot down properly” when walking. This question was posed ever so innocently that one could not even consider finding the child un-empathetic or rude, let alone take offense.
In spite of all the awareness created over the years, we are yet to confidently say we have kicked polio out of Kenya.
Explaining this to a six-year old grew both me and our new help in a new dimension. Let’s just say we’re still answering questions about ‘Auntie’s’ leg but I tell you this story because of my daughter’s very direct question about a matter most of us would not only find uncomfortable but avoid bringing up at all costs.
We are not born with this avoidance of potentially difficult matters. We are trained into it.
By this training, a far more paralysing condition than polio is systematically inculcated into our lives from a very early age.
We are trained to single out those who are different from us and treat them as such - usually negatively.
Our ignorance about others allows a considerable level of fear to reside in us. The fear translates into nil or limited contact with things or people unlike ourselves denying us the benefit of a different perspective that free, open and close interaction with them would afford us.
Conversely, this fear turns inward over time resulting in our own fear of being singled out by the time we are adults. The result is that we end up avoiding standing out when others conform or seem in unison with the rest of the herd.
This didn’t even occur to my daughter. She saw an unusual phenomenon and had no qualms about inquiring into it because unlike you and I, no one has systematically taught fear to her.
The thought that her question would be uncomfortable or frowned upon didn’t even occur to her and if it did, it didn’t stop her question.
Now I am not suggesting that you go around putting people on the spot by acting in a childlike manner. I suggest that we re-look all-encompassing “institution of fear” and interrogate how it affects our outcomes. How the fear in us keep us smack in the way of our own success.
Fear is a fantastic ‘people control’ mechanism. All one need do is scare the day lights out of them the minute they gain some level of consciousness in childhood and keep them forever towing the line.
Even better is the fact that it becomes the default way of being - you don’t need to worry about the next generation because it will inevitably be passed on as the norm. “Culture” or “custom”, it is fondly referred to as. I say stop!
Wake up and smell the fresh morning brew of the beautiful truth with which we’re all gifted. That your ethnic background, the wealth or lack of it of your family, formal education, your creed or race do not necessarily determine how high you can scale.
Gain the awareness that anything or anyone that uses fear in you employs a tool that only you can sharpen by willingly subscribing to “Club Fear”. Your membership is kept constantly renewed year after year by repeatedly turning up the “Fear Knob” in you.
“Better safe...”, “better the devil...”, “you never know...”, “hurry hurry has...”, I could go on but I’m confident you could write a book on these. You already know the litany of fear-inducing statements that we acknowledge and fully accept in daily conversation.
The statements that stop us in our tracks every moment we make a daring attempt to step out of the ordinary and leap onto living our purpose. We hear these statements all around us and go right back in line like migrating wildebeests - more out of fear of the unknown than herd mentality, unfortunately.
The good news is that fear is not a genetic disease. It is taught to us and as such, we can un-learn it starting now.
To shun fear I’d suggest that we immediately unsubscribe from that limiting club and all of its membership rules and regulations.
That’s when we shake off the yokes of control by this paralysing feeling and gain control of our definite paths and the pace at which we walk them.