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My old pal fear

by Sarah Ruane


As I’m cleaning my kitchen, thoughts are coming to me; there you are fear, my old pal. What have you got to say for yourself? A lot as it happens! That’s one thing about fear – given half a chance, it usually has plenty to say for itself.

At this moment in time, I am transitioning from being at home on maternity leave to work as a psychotherapist. So here I am, at this junction of starting to think about re-emerging back into the world. A world that in a few short months, has been changed forever because of Covid-19. A place where words like ‘cocooning’ and ‘self-isolation’ are commonplace. Where fear and anxiety are at the forefront of our minds and deep in our hearts.

I have my own personal version of that fear, mine being the thoughts of returning to the world of work. Having to sit with someone and hold the space - in that special way that we do, that feels second nature when you are in your flow. But right now, it feels very foreign to me. I’m wondering if I can still do it. What do I say? Do I have anything worth saying?

Even as I write this, I’m thinking that I couldn’t possibly admit my fears so openly - I’ll surely be judged. Yet another part of me knows that, as wild and wonderful as I am, I’m no different to anybody else and I’m sure lots of other people have had similar thoughts, if not these very same ones, at one time or another.

Although fear can feel debilitating, not just in my type of situation, but in any situation and particularly at the moment, I also feel that fear can be a great teacher. I’m re-reading a wonderful book at the moment called A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson (2015). In simple terms, she believes that we have two choices; we can live from a place of fear, or a place of love. I don’t know about you but I choose the latter - love. I try to make this choice each day and I’m finding that, when I manage to do that, I begin to feel an openness inside of me and around me that allows me to breathe more deeply, to notice how I am feeling and to be curious again.

It could be said, whether it’s within ourselves or across the world, that we can make that choice of living from a place of love or fear. If it is within ourselves, we can choose love, no matter what the outer appearance may be or how challenging and difficult the situation may be. If we try to understand that we are all the same, that we are all one and that we are all in this together, perhaps we can learn to love and accept ourselves in any given moment, even though there are bound to be parts of us that we judge critically and are fearful of. I think Leonard Cohen (1992) puts it beautifully: “there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”. I believe that it is possible that if we all could practise a little more love and kindness, it would make this world we live in a better place.

When we look across the world, we can see the waves of fear that ripple out, whether it is extreme belief systems or talk of building walls or promoting division among people. Fear can be a divisive tool, when used to divide and control. One can understand the human draw towards perceived power and control, but imagine a world that breeds love over fear, inclusion over division and acceptance over judgement.

What if it starts within each and every one of us? In our own little cocoons, our own little worlds, and in our own little ways. Although it is not easy, we can make those simple yet profound choices, moment by moment, day by day, to love.

One of the good things that may come out of Covid-19 is that it is showing us all, in concrete terms, just how connected we all are and how small our beautiful planet really is.

I’m sharing all of this with you because firstly, it feels very therapeutic to acknowledge my own personal fears at this moment. But secondly, and more importantly, I think it can only be a good thing to be reminded to greet each day with an open heart and curiosity, even when our old pal fear is tugging at our coat tails.

Sarah Ruane qualified in 2006 with a Professional Diploma in Counselling and Psychotherapy from The Liberties College. She then went on to complete a Certificate in Gestalt Psychotherapy and a Postgraduate Diploma in Bodywork Psychotherapy. She has trained extensively in mindfulness and meditation. For 14 years, she has been honoured to hold a compassionate space to assist clients in reaching their highest potential.


Cohen, L. (1992) Anthem. On The Future. Columbia.

Williamson, M. (2015). A return to love: Reflections on the principles of A Course in Miracles.

Harper Thorsons.

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