The Addictive Power of Fear

Santa Cruz | Dianna Bonny Photography

“Fear is a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life.” -Donald Miller

I just returned from a week in Northern California, where I took my son for his college orientation. It was a few days of magic, watching the world unfold through the eyes of an 18 year old about to set off in life. We visited the campus and then traveled further north to spend a few days with my dad, who still lives in the house I grew up in.

In this, I consider myself to be one of those fortunate humans. It is like my own personal museum — parts of me tucked into every nook and cranny. I know every inch of it intimately. It is the place I was formed, and I couldn’t wait to get out of there when I was 18. Remembering this, and the combination of being here and having a child leaving home at the same age, gave me pause.

The quaint town looks much the same as it did when I grew up, and it got me thinking about how much things have changed for me. Driving through the winding roads, you would never know that some twenty-odd years had passed since I last lived there full time. If it were possible to drive through my life, one would find few familiar landmarks and my inner landscape barely recognizable.

As I thought about the changes, what kept popping up was fear. Or at least how much fear kept me cordoned off from the life I wanted to live. Or thought I should be living, which is funny, because I have finally figured out that I am living the life I was meant too, even though it might not look the way I thought it would.

I began to notice how fearful I was in the weeks following my husband’s death. I was firmly in its tenacious grip and there were good reasons to be afraid. It served an important purpose. There were decisions to be made, and pronto. Had I not been scared to death of all that was facing me, I might not have acted so quickly. The ominous financial predicament paralyzed me, but the fear of what might happen if I did not take action catapulted me into action. Within months I sold houses, negotiated deals on cars and stormed my way through the battalion of creditors.

fear | Dianna Bonny Photography

But, when most of the truly scary things had been handled, I was still overcome with fear. I imagined all the most awful scenarios possible. I siphoned fear off of the emotional spectrum and made it into a way of life.

This fear was the wake-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night, take-your-breath-away kind. The fear that governed my life previously was not so obvious. It invisibly weaved its way through my life and made itself comfortable in ways that were hard to discern to the untrained eye.

It is powerful, addictive and mighty sneaky, like a computer virus silently wreaking havoc. Fear masquerades through our lives as beliefs: “I’m not smart enough” or “I can’t do that” or “I’m too old,” and undermines our best efforts, keeping us just this side of a magnificent life. For me, once I started dismantling my believed limitations, I almost always discovered fear at the root.

I would never want my children to live in fear the way I did. My antidote has been to walk into those areas that scare me, like singing, and see where it takes me. I am by no means fearless now, but I can say that every time I do the thing I thought I could never do, it expands me. I have the sense of being the whole of me, inhabiting life the way it was meant to be experienced: on the edge where the juice is, sometimes uncomfortable, always growing and pushing through boundaries.

I think fear is meant to be noticed, certainly worthy of our attention, but we were never meant to build a life around it.

What about you? Are you a slave to fear? Have you found a useful antidote?


Who is Dianna Bonny?

Hi, my name is Dianna Bonny. It’s my mission to candidly share my journey with you. For me, it’s all about the healing: to create a radiant healing energy for others who have befallen a similar fate. Together, we can forge beautiful lives of belonging and connection. Thanks for joining me today! I look forward to hearing from you.

  8 comments for “The Addictive Power of Fear

  1. August 7, 2013 at 9:56 am

    I appreciate your thought provoking insight: Our fears masquerade as beliefs.

    Thank you Dianna!

    • Dianna Bonny
      August 7, 2013 at 2:56 pm

      My pleasure Rhana. Thanks for being here. xx

  2. August 7, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    What a great post. I love your candid disclosure! Last week fear was my blog topic as well. Keep shining the light, Sister!

    • Dianna Bonny
      August 7, 2013 at 2:57 pm

      I will head on over and check it out! It’s a big one that fear monster. Much thanks for the encouragement. xx

  3. August 7, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    HI Dianna!

    I enjoyed your blog post as usual. I’m glad you are sharing with others. I relate a great deal ~ my trauma was for a different reason, yet I notice the aftermath is often the same.

    I was inspired to write on my blog yesterday on this topic as well ~ I love how things like that happen. 🙂


    • Dianna Bonny
      August 7, 2013 at 4:17 pm

      Hi Toni: So nice to hear from you! Fear seems to be popular this week. I love the synchronicity and I will hop over and read your take on it as well. Thank you for being here. xo.

  4. August 7, 2013 at 10:47 pm


    I really liked your post. Especially your line, “I think fear is meant to be noticed, certainly worthy of our attention, but we were never meant to build a life around it”

    Unfortunately, I had built a life around my fear. It was getting stronger each time I gave into the fear. I still struggle with fear and find myself immobilized at times. And then little by little I see a clearing and realize it is not as bad as I thought. Fear can be crippling. Thanks for sharing your post.

    • Dianna Bonny
      August 9, 2013 at 1:07 pm

      Hi Anne: You’re so welcome. Keep moving towards the clearing – fear is powerful stuff! Seems to be universal, so know you are not alone. Be well and thank you for sharing. xx

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