Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Bringing A Skeleton To A Feast

Whether it’s triggered by a mouse skittering over the floor or set off by managing a million dollar trade deal, we all feel fear. And it exists to help us avoid kicking the bucket.

So whenever fear pops its ugly little head out, it’s warning us that something we consider vital to our survival is at risk of dying. Whether it’s our career, a limb, or our sense of identity.

And when we fear something we can rationally recognise as trivial, we feel a bit ashamed. In hopes of stopping the panic we talk to ourselves, “Control yourself!”

But as long as you’re concerned about the safety of this thing, you’ll be in a panic. And there’s nothing to be done about it, except to push through the fear or escape.

But some situations can’t be escaped.

Death is—hopefully not to your surprise—unavoidable. All sensible people know they’re some day going to have to face death. But like with any other situation that’s too much to handle, we can keep it out of our minds.

If you’re lucky, death is adequately far enough so you can go through most of life without having to think about it. Our society would probably pride itself on such an achievement, because it considers any thoughts or conversations about death as gloomy.

But this wasn’t always the case.

As late as in the 16th century, the bodies of departed Christians were exhumed and generously decorated with gold and precious stones to serve as relics of certain saints. It wasn’t until the intellectual movement of the 18th century that certain people were determined on getting rid of such vulgar symbols. Worship of corpses and skeletons was regarded as barbaric and was forbidden.

And so, today, we still regard any talk about death as morbid.

The main reason for sweeping death underneath the carpet, however, is because the mere thought of it makes us shake in our boots. And I suppose it’s believed that being in a state of fear does not make for very civilised and orderly people.

Instead of showing up at work, we might be screaming in the streets. But that’s not necessarily so.

You see, most courageous actions are not a result of being fearless.

Henry Fonda, for example, was a famous actor and performer from the 40s with a unique pre-performance ritual: before every show he involuntarily ralphed up his lunch.

No matter how many gigs he did, Henry never got rid of his stage fright. He simply dealt with it the best he could, and built a tremendously successful career.

A person who understands fear knows that it is harmless in and of itself.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach