Mr. Edward Hall is the most tired man in world due to being awake for the past 87 hours. Edward believes he must stay awake because falling asleep will lead to his death. Tormented by his current state, Edward visits a psychiatrist and begins his appointment by laying down on a sofa and quickly falling asleep. He quickly jumps up from the sofa and explains to the psychiatrist when he was 15 he developed a “romantic heart” which meant he couldn’t participate in any strenuous activities, sports, or anything that got his heart pumping harder. He also explains he dreams in sequence like episodes in a television show. Edward starts sharing his dreams with the psychiatrist, detailing the background, story and characters in the dream. The dream takes place at an amusement park but the kind nightmares are made of where everything is distorted. In his dream Edward sees a woman who is dancing and then begins to follow him throughout the park. She suggests to Edward they go into the fun house and later ride a roller coaster. Edward knows he is in a dream, but fears that even in a dream, if his heart is taxed too much, he will die.
Every time Edward falls a sleep, the dream picks up where it left off the night before. Fearful for his life, Edward refuses to sleep knowing he will dream and based on the last sequence of events in the previous dreams, the activities in his next dream will kill him. He is fearful the next dream will contain an event where he will jump to his death. As Edward is explaining all of this to the doctor be becomes frustrated and leaves the office but on his way out, he looks at the receptionist and sees she is the woman from his dreams. Scared, he runs back into the doctor’s office and jumps out the window to his death. At which point, the doctor calls the receptionist into his office where they are both looking at Edward laying on the sofa, having died in his sleep.
The lesson I have taken away from this episode, is don’t let fear dictate how you live your life. Fear, like a dream, lives in your mind. When given the time, energy, and fuel, your dreams, nightmares, and/or fears will control what you do in your waking life. Fear is real, it is meant to protect us from what harms us but fear can also stop us from moving forward and even paralyze us, forcing us to stay where we are.
Fear, real or imagined, your body doesn’t know the difference, but it is important that you know the difference. When you are experiencing fear; fear of failure, fear of public speaking, fear of being vulnerable, etc. you need sit with yourself in the fear and determine if the fear you are feeling is real or imagined. Is the fear you are feeling stopping you from harm or is it stopping you from feeling pain, discomfort, or disappointment. I hear from clients all the time “I’m afraid of failure”, “I’m afraid of messing up” or “I’m afraid to share myself with someone because I may get hurt in the process” and it goes on and on. These “fears” are not fears, they are excuses we tell ourselves to spare ourselves the discomfort of growth, the discomfort of putting ourselves out there, and the discomfort of failure. But it is in these times of discomfort that we grow, we learn, and we become stronger. Think about what real harm can come from putting yourself out there. I’m waiting . . . That’s right, there isn’t a harm you will face putting yourself out there. The only harm comes when you let fear dictate and rule the decisions you make.
Fear, if given the energy and validation, will control your every move, it will leave you stuck in the same spot, it will leave you malnourished in knowledge, life, and experiences. It is important to have fear, but it is also important to push through the fear; not around it, not over it, but THROUGH IT in order to grow and become a better version of yourself tomorrow than you are today. What fear is holding you back? What can you do to push through this fear? What is this fear costing you but not pushing through it?