Hug the monster..!

YEARS ago I spent some of my evenings with a friend who had a kidney problem. He had just got out of dialysis with a new donated kidney which continued to give him problems. One day as we were walking, I asked him whether he was afraid of the disease which had overtaken him.
“No Bob,” he said, “I’ve made it my friend!” “But it should be your enemy,” I exclaimed. “Well,” he said with a smile, “It’s decided to live in my body, so I face it every morning not as something to be feared but as a friend to be understood and tolerated.” “How can you do that?” I asked, “I would be afraid every day!” “And waste valuable time on fear?” asked my friend, “No, instead I have taught myself to live with it and look at it in the face!”
In 1972 David Smith had such an opportunity. Smith, an adventurer, author and professional speaker, decided to spend a night alone in St. Michael’s Cave on the island of Gibraltar as a test of courage. In his book ‘Hug The Monster’ (Kansas City: Andrews and McMeel, 1996), he tells of hearing strange sounds all around him as he lay there in the pitch-black, damp, deserted cave. Most frightening was the fact that he came to believe he was not alone! Fear became panic and he was afraid he was losing his mind. Then suddenly, as he was approaching his psychological breaking point, Smith thought to himself, “Whatever the monster looks like, I will hug it.” That simple, almost silly thought brought great relief to his restless mind.
He soon fell into a deep and peaceful sleep until morning. He learned that embracing his fear, literally or figuratively, allowed him to subdue it. We each have our nights of fear. We each encounter monsters of some sort.
We may fear spiders or insects, heights or crowds, abandonment or loneliness, the future or death. And most of us are occasionally visited by shadows of these monsters in the dark of night. The next time you’re afraid, try “hugging the monster.” Face that fear head-on, whatever it is, and embrace it. You may be surprised at how quickly it slips away and at how confident you begin to feel. I remember what Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face.”
My friend passed away when his donated kidney failed, but even now I can hear the words he told me so many years ago. He had learnt to hug his monster and wasn’t afraid after that. Do you have a monster to hug?

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