Changing the Way We Think About Fear

maria-shriver-changing-the-way-we-think-about-fear

As I travel around the country for my “I’ve Been Thinking…” book tour, I continue to be moved by the conversations I’m having with people along the way. This week, I was particularly struck by the conversations I’ve had with people about fear.

Fear. It’s one of the scariest and most complex emotions that we face as human beings. It can paralyze us and stop us in our tracks. Or, it can motivate us to keep fighting and keep pushing forward. Pushing through fear is not easy, I know. But it really is up to each of us to decide how to manage this nerve-wracking emotion that wreaks havoc on so many of us.

This week, I felt moved as I watched so many students push through their fear and use it as a motivator to stand up and speak out against gun violence, walking out of classrooms across the country. Rightfully so, these students and their parents are terrified of what is happening on school campuses across America. They don’t want to live in fear any longer as they sit in class or drop their kids off at school. These students and those who support them are using their fear to propel themselves and others into action. I am so inspired by their indignation and I admire the way they are using their voices.

My mother once told me that you are never too young to create an impact. You are never too young to make a difference. You may have to be 35 to run for president, but you don’t have to be that age to make a difference. That’s why I bow down to these students and I look forward to joining them next weekend as they mobilize again for “March For Our Lives.”


I also bow down to my daughter Christina, who is using her voice and the fears of her generation to have an honest conversation about the pressures we put on ourselves to succeed. In college, Christina witnessed first-hand the epidemic of young people over-using Adderall and other cognitive-enhancing drugs. After realizing that no one else had made a film on this topic, she decided to executive produce a new Netflix documentary called “Take Your Pills,” which explores why these drugs are being overprescribed. The lessons in the film (which is out now) will put us all on notice — parents, educators doctors, etc. It will wake us up to what’s happening in our midst and to what we are losing as we get caught up in a hyper-competitive, chaotic cycle.

The fear of not being able to succeed is something I know all too well. It’s something I know from my own life, and it’s something I know from what I’m hearing from others on the road.

People of all ages have been expressing their fears to me. Fears of failing. Fears of failing their children. Fears about their jobs, their health, and of letting go. Of course, so many of us are also feeling fearful about what’s happening in our leadership at the highest levels of government.

In the past, fear has occasionally gotten the best of me. But, I’ve come to realize that fear is no match for my own internal strength. The more I’ve pushed through my own fear — the more internal fortitude I’ve built up — the less of a hold it has had on me.


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I've Been Thinking . . .: Reflections, Prayers, and Meditations for a Meaningful Life

by Maria Shriver

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