All of us at some time in our younger lives have heard a parent yell, “You’re being punished! Go to your room!” It seems to be universal that transgressions carry within them the threat of punishment. Wikipedia describes Old Hawaii’s Code of Conduct as, “An offense that was kapu was often a corporal offense, but also often denoted a threat to spiritual power, or theft of mana.” Violations of the Kapu System could result in something a bit more severe than just being sent to one’s room! Quite often death was the fruit of transgression! The natural fear of punishment often causes people to do things in secret. The problem with indulging in secrecy is that it teaches us to hide ourselves away from being known by others. Secrecy indulged in often enough can harm us in that it teaches us to hide, teaches us to be guarded, and causes us to not relate authentically to others. At least some of the loneliness that we feel in our lives can be attributed to our giving in to the desire to hide.
Dealing with others in counseling as I do, I have often pondered this issue of wanting to hide and the resulting isolation that indulgence in it brings about. To some extent we need to teach ourselves to be brave. I have often wondered whether bungee-jumpers are brave or just crazy! Nonetheless, we have something to learn from them. When we come to the edge of that which moves us to hide we need to throw ourselves off of that ledge and sail into the abyss! The only way that I know of conquering fear is by facing it even while still feeling afraid!
In fact we can learn to face our fear by degrees. First we force ourselves to stay in the presence of what we fear for only 15 seconds and then we can leave. Later we stay for 30 seconds. Each time we stretch out the length of time that we stay with what frightens us. After a while our mind awakens to the fact that although we feel fear we are able to stay with it longer and longer! In fact we discover that we lived through it! In the end whatever we run from pursues us, gains power over us and holds us hostage! In order to conquer our fears we needn’t start by jumping off of a bridge! Hopping down off of one step is a beginning! The important thing is to begin!