I Am Not Afraid
The Scaredy Cat
An Excerpt from Courage: Overcoming Fear & Igniting Self-Confidence
By Debbie Ford
From as far back as I can remember, they used to call me Scaredy Cat. I was known as little scrawny Debbie Ford who hid beneath her mother’s dress, ran from anyone who wanted to say hello, and could never fall asleep without the lights on. Always in fear that somebody was going to leap out of the shadows and hurt me, I learned to hide in corners and sneak peeks at what was going on around me. I wasn’t more than two years old before I became the neighborhood child who got teased, taunted, and made the brunt of too many stupid pranks. I was vulnerable and scared. I was the youngest of three children and found out early on that no one was going to protect me. It was clear by my third birthday that my older sister, whom I idolized, and my brother, whom I believed to be my savior, were bored with my Scaredy Cat act and wished I would grow up and be normal like them.
As I got older, I learned that scaredy cats weren’t widely accepted. Just like with my brother and sister, I could see that my guarded and anxious persona wasn’t very appealing out in the world. I wanted to be strong and confident but instead I was suspicious and fearful. Everything about who I was embarrassed me. I was awkward and yet wanted nothing more than to fit in and have the confidence of my older sister Arielle. With her long dark hair, she was the shining star who never seemed to be bothered by anything. I began a search to discover how I could feel that way too.
Controlled by my fear and my deeply ingrained insecurities, I made a dramatic decision to turn into the girl that I thought others wanted me to be, not the girl that I was. I began to cover up my authentic, kind nature with a new “I don’t give a crap” attitude. And my warm and loving heart quickly grew cold, turning away from feelings of playfulness, affection, and compassion and toward cynicism and belligerence. The pain, humiliation and fear drove me to become someone other than who I was. I created an outer shell that would protect me and yet separate me from my inner truth. But it was a price I was willing to pay. I no longer would have access to the real me as I became a self-hater who lost the courage to feel her emotions or to be seen as she was.
By my early 20′s, I had, I believe, successfully created an outer image that would trick even the best investigator. But after years of working that façade, it cracked open once again when I lost control of the drugs I had started using to fuel my false confidence. I became a pretty girl with a bad problem, otherwise known as a drug addict. When I knew I would have to get help or die, I checked into one drug treatment center after another. When I knew that I had finally reached my last chance, I let go and, as life would have it, I found peace. On the dirty bathroom floor of my fourth drug treatment center, I connected with a power greater than myself. For the first time, I went from scared, insecure, lonely, and weak to peaceful, present, and confident.
This connection happened in just a few moments. Without drugs, sugar, a man, or money, I found the courage to fight my addiction and win the internal war that was waging within. I found my power and inner strength, and for the first time in my life, I felt free and knew that I had discovered the golden key to confidence and courage. When I finally got up off that bathroom floor, I knew that all along I had been missing something inside myself – this inner connection. This power hidden within me was trying to deliver a message that would change my life.
Now I love and nurture the Scaredy Cat part of myself. I don’t try to make it go away or be anything other than what it is — a part of me that carries my fear. When I fail to acknowledge and have compassion for my fearful self, I wind up in a downward spiral of negativity. Sound familiar? When I acknowledge my fear and stay open to the gifts that it holds, I have access to the confidence and courage that I need to be authentically who I am.
Although suppressed fear is the culprit behind terrible suffering, when fear is embraced it acts as the fuel that propels you into a world of courage and confidence. Befriended fear is a worthy ally urging us to move forward in the areas of our lives where we are unfulfilled or emotionally challenged.
If fear is stopping you from reaching your goals, getting the love you want, asking for what you need or being bold and audacious to be the powerful you that you were born to be, then there is only one thing missing, and that is courage. I’m excited to share the process I’ve outlined in my new book Courage: Overcoming Fear and Igniting Self-Confidence with you: Click here to get all the details.
Debbie Ford is a New York Times bestselling author of nine books and an internationally acclaimed teacher, speaker, transformational coach, film-maker and expert in the field of personal transformation. She has guided tens of thousands of extraordinary people to learn to love, trust and embrace all of who they are. Debbie is the founder of The Ford Institute for Transformational Training, the renowned personal and professional training organization which offers emotional and spiritual education based on her body of work to individuals and organizations around the world. She is also the creator and leader of The Shadow Process Retreat.
*******Wow. This story really touched me. When I got to the part where Debbie Ford talked about her metamorphosis on the bathroom floor of her fourth rehab, emotion hit me like a brick. I felt a huge pang in my heart for the girl on the floor. Fear is devastating, life-altering and damaging. It holds you back. Makes you weak. Keeps you down. But, if you learn to play off of your fears, you can accomplish magnificent feats. One of my fears has been singing in front of a small number of closely scrutinizing individuals, but I have learned to twist it into nothing but a positive experience. Now, if someone asks me to sing. I just do it. What’s the worst that can happen? Last night, I was singing in the bathroom of a club I was at and a Pistons’ cheerleader told me to try out to sing the National Anthem at a game. Whoa!!! I was just having fun, but she heard me and liked what she heard enough to tell me how to go about getting an audition. Fear can be crippling, but conquering it is always life-changing. I plan on conquering each and every one of my fears. Except spiders and heights. Spiders have way too many legs, move too fast and are quite creepy looking and heights…that’s self-explanatory because I’m quite the grounded individual and I plan on staying that way. :)*******