Toward the end of the family BBQ on the 4th of July, everyone started gathering in the backyard to watch the firework show put on at the park a few blocks from my Grandma’s house. The sun had already set and daylight lingered, but was quickly fading. As my three-year-old cousin sat with her mom in anticipation of the fireworks, I could hear her repeating to her mom, but mostly to herself:
“It’s not getting dark” and “They’re just fireworks.”
Struck by the complexity of the thought process that landed this little one at these statements, I laughed with her mom. Since my upcoming and life-altering move has launched me into a state of perpetual contemplation and self-reflection, I, of course, examined this experience for some grand life lesson. Believe it or not, I found one!
She nervously repeated those lines at least 20 times before the show actually started. She successfully psyched herself up for the adventure of the night. Did she actually believe what she was saying? She definitely knew it was getting dark, otherwise she wouldn’t have said it. Ultimately, I don’t think she was trying to convince herself that it wasn’t getting dark, so what exactly was her goal?
With her example, the art of facing fears is simple. It is not to lie to yourself until you believe the lie: “That scary thing that’s ahead of me is not actually coming.” Instead, it is to lie to yourself to bring temporary peace until you can see for yourself that it is in fact getting dark, but everything will be okay anyway and the intimidating loud noises will bring light to the darkness.