Turning Fear Into Fuel - by Katell Schmitz for MotherHustle
“The antidote to fear isn’t an increased amount of courage, or even more brave actions, but trusting in God that when I am put in a situation that seems completely crippling, I can still rise and use the actual fear to get out of said situation.”

I don’t know about you mamas but I am full of fear every day — sometimes all day long and even for days long. It seems to be part of my DNA now.

The common definition of fear is “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.” Although that’s a good one, there is a second one that better represents the kind of feeling that fell upon me when I became a mother: “a feeling of anxiety concerning the outcome of something or the safety and well-being of someone” … that is more like the fear I live with every day.

Motherhood is one of those things that can make you feel powerful and unbreakable (I mean, you just gave life to a human being), and oh so weak and vulnerable all at once (that mama-love gets our knees shaky and our inner lioness on alert).

Those feelings and emotions together create the perfect incubator for fear and, in a practical way, some mad anxiety.

My dear fellow MotherHustlers, it comes with the job. And the first step out of it seems to be acknowledging it, then finding out how to use it for the good of everybody. Nobody wants an anxious mama running around.

Watching the news just isn’t the same anymore. Going out in crowded places turns us into fierce mean hawks. Even food decisions have a whole other dimension now — we can’t ignore all the chemicals anymore, can we?! And there are so many more reasons to feel like we should be concerned about “the outcome of something or the safety and well-being of someone.”

BUT… we are mamas and what do mamas do? They make the best out of the most difficult situations!

As any other emotion, fear can either be used as a shackle — living a life limited by anxiety and the excuses it creates to imprison ourselves — or, as a fuel. I am choosing this second option, to use my fear(s) as a fuel.

A fuel to love harder and better, a fuel to be more intentional and present, a fuel to go even stronger after my dreams, a fuel to raise my babies with the values I cherish the most instead of passively letting life happen.

Using fear as a fuel is fully knowing that there is evil out there, there are hardships ahead, there is a good amount of unknown in life, yet the good is more powerful.

Focusing on the positive can change things — even when all the bad stuff mentioned before does happen.

Two years ago, the day after Thanksgiving, my mother-in-law, the kids and I went shopping and got into a terrible car crash on our way back. Our car went off the road, fell into a ditch, flipped over and landed on its roof, in the rain, in the dark, on a very quiet little winding road …

The exact things of my worst nightmares.

If someone had told me about the potential of this happening before that night, I most certainly would have had a panic attack and would have never entered a car with my kids ever again. The idea of being in a car wreck with my kids, and of them facing physical injuries or worst, is unbearable.

However, while I was hanging there upside down, disoriented and full of fear, hearing my kids cries and not knowing what was truly going on with them, showed me that I needed to use that fear as fuel to free myself and my kids, and position my injured mother-in-law in a good place, before I could even wave at passing cars and finally finding a phone in the wreck to call for help.

Of course, this is an extreme and very dramatic case, but I think it is a good representation of my argument:

Fear can be used as fuel, and when we use it as such, we rid ourselves of its power.

We can either let it consume us, with all the consequences implied, or we can throw it back at itself. It touches motherhood, relationships, business-hood, anything really in life.

I absolutely adore this quote by Nelson Mandela: I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” For me, I have realized and accepted that fear is part of the way I operate these days and that the antidote to fear isn’t an increased amount of courage, or even more brave actions, but trusting in God that when I am put in a situation that seems completely crippling and paralyzing I can still rise and use the actual fear to get out of said situation.

This realization comes with the inner peace that tells me that fear can no longer control me, even if its ugly little head is always right there in the corner ready to try, again and again.


Katell Schmitz is the creative director + brand designer at Reverie Lane Designs and The Creative Session, where she works with passionate dreamers on a mission to create beautiful, memorable and impactful brands. She’s a French expat who’s living her American dream but also gets homesick from time to time. She’s a happy wife and mama of two and presently lives with her multicultural family in Boston. Find her on Facebook and Instagram

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