Some time around 4:30 AM, the distinct “chirp, chirp” of a cricket awakened me out of a deep sleep. Realizing that the cricket’s call was too close to be outside, I scrambled out of bed and began the hunt. Terrified that the creature would find its way into my bed during the night, I searched all around our bedroom, adjoining bathroom, the hallway, my office across from our bedroom and even the living room. Not finding the critter, I waited to hear its call again. Another “chirp, chirp”, much further away this time, took me back to our bedroom. After another thorough search, and desperate to get a few more ZZZ’s, I decided that the cricket was most likely outside and went back to bed.
The next evening, I was reading in bed, when I heard the cricket’s call once again. Frustrated that this creature was still in my home and terrified that it would find its way to my bed just as I was drifting off my sleep, I decided to take care of the situation once and for all. A mental image of a swampy-green, creeping thing with wiry legs and probing antennae taunted me. I dreaded finding and having to get rid of it. Armed with a broom, a dustpan, and bug-spray (just in case) I prepared for battle. I entered the bathroom, turning on all of the lights. No need to be caught off guard. I looked around, but nothing. Again, “chirp, chirp”. This time from my bathroom counter. I looked and at first, I didn’t see anything unusual. Looking a little closer, a baby cricket, the size of half of my pinky fingernail sat chirping with all of its might. After my heart stopped pounding, I removed her and tucked myself in for a peaceful night’s sleep.
Fear. The thought of what frightens us, the conjured images of that feared thing, are often larger than reality. The anxiety that we feel when we are confronted with something that we fear is often much greater than the actual thing or act itself. This anxiety can hold us back from our goals or the peace that comes with confronting our fears and taking care of what needs to be done.
"The thought of what frightens us, the conjured images of that feared thing, are often larger than reality."
For a moment, I had considered sleeping in another room rather than deal with one of my phobias, bugs. However, unwilling to be defeated by my fear, I prepared. I planned, got the necessary tools and then assessed the situation. This is how we should confront all of our fears. We should “reality test” our thoughts behind the fear and assess the real risk. What was the chance that the cricket spent 2 nights planning its attack on me? Probably 0%. Rather, if I frightened it, it would likely try to hop away from me rather than towards me.
We should also be prepared for the reality of what we might actually confront. Unwilling to let the cricket take up residence in my bathroom, I knew that I would need to catch it and enter it into the relocation program. However, it could have leapt into my nest of hair, or worse yet, down my nightgown. That would have been a sight, me screaming, arms flailing, the cricket frantically trying to escape the giant human. However, I grabbed the tools that I thought were best suited for the job, developed a strategy to find and catch the critter and then moved forward.
When we confront our fears, having a well thought out strategy can help us deal with most imaginable outcomes. It doesn’t mean that we can control every outcome, but we are better able to cope with whatever happens. Developing a strategy means that we have done a risk assessment and come to the decision that the risk outweighs avoiding the situation or thing altogether.
Sometimes, bad things happen. The thing we feared happens. The cricket launches into my hair and I scramble around the bathroom, screaming as I try to pull it out breaking the evergreen scented candle that my dear friend gave me in the process. However, it is usually not the end of the world. Even when we are faced with what have feared all along, we can manage it. We can get through and when we get through, our courage and bravery have shown us that we can do hard things. We don’t have to like it, but we can do it.
So, when that “chirp, chirp” wakes you from the dead of sleep, stand your ground. Realize that “death by cricket mauling” is unlikely to make the evening headlines. Grab your broom, a dustpan (and bug-spray, just in case) and take the next a step forward.