Cambrian: Opinion

Don’t be afraid to explore your fears and stressors

Diane Brooke
Diane Brooke

“Fear is the darkroom where negatives are developed,” Michael Pritchard says. “Who would you be without your stress?” Christine Carter asks.

Neuroscientist, Jill Bolte says most emotions don’t last longer than 90 seconds. That, however, is if we allow ourselves to actually feel them and not numb them with alcohol or endlessly exercising or hours of social media or shopping or constantly snacking or any other method of avoidance.

“The problem is that when we numb unpleasant feelings, we numb everything that we are feeling,” Christine Carter writes at “So to honestly feel the positive things in life — to truly feel love, or joy, or profound gratitude — we must also let ourselves feel fear, and grief, and frustration.”

This past weekend was the culmination of months of work as I’ve not put in for a number of years. I did publicity and co-chaired vendor coordination for our rock club’s annual rock and gem show at the Paso Robles Fairgrounds. I know until I get all the paperwork processed and we debrief from the event, it’s not quite over. But this little brain of mine was huffing and puffing until late Sunday night.

I gave up panicking a long time ago. The world will go on. I can only do my best. And, I’ve tried to be honest and not take on anything over my head or too far out of my skill set. This was mostly just stretching those mental muscles that have lain dormant since the days of running the Youth/Community Center and various events. Long hours, no pay — yeah, that’s how it usually rolls. And I love rocks. That was the motivation.

All this is not to say I don’t occasionally sit a little too long on YouTube watching jewelry videos instead of getting into my studio and just making stuff or finish off that pint of ice cream a bit too quickly instead of going for another walk (I love both, but sometimes that confection just speaks louder!) or anything but writing all those press releases! Fear of not being clever enough.

This weekend’s activity reminded me that, when we are actually doing something, not just busy work and, more importantly, doing one thing at a time not three or six things, things get accomplished far less stressfully. If we allow ourselves to focus on not just the end result but one-step-at-a-time to get there, our brains can more clearly focus, and we don’t get so overwhelmed.

I do get that often everything feels like it’s coming at us at one time. And I do get that we don’t always know how to get where we’re going, which pushes that fear button — fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of losing power or whatever. So stop, and be with that fear. What exactly is that emotion trying to tell us? We feel it in our bodies. We grind it through the cogs of our brains. But can you listen to your heart and feel it (even if it’s very sad or very scary — 90 seconds isn’t too long) and hear what that emotion is trying to tell you?

Perhaps it’s telling you to ask for help — wouldn’t it be better to understand than to just follow through on your failure? Perhaps it is telling you to say “no” when you need to and say “yes” when your gut says to. Perhaps you need to allow yourself to stop and sit still and clear the slate so that you may tune into your heart.

Just returning from the mechanic on a break from writing this, my simple smog check is looking to possibly turn into an event worth $1,000. Am I fearful of not being able to pay? Is work available, or am I blocking the universe from providing what I need … exhale … ah, yes, tax returns and skilled technicians. … It does work.

Dianne Brooke’s column is special to The Cambrian.