From the moment we launched the IAmElemental Kickstarter campaign, we have been deluged with questions and comments regarding our decision to include Fear in the Courage series. The public response, admittedly, came as a bit of a surprise. For, as we were developing The Elements of Power, it never occurred to us NOT to include Fear on our power chart.
To understand our stance on the Fear factor, it is first necessary to recognize that the figures in the IAmElemental universe are not people. Rather, they are the personification of Powers that reside within us all. As we like to say, Character, not Characters. By breaking character down into the building blocks of Courage – Bravery, Energy, Honesty, Industry, Enthusiasm, Persistence, and Fear – we’ve made them readily accessible and easily digestible. In our experience, when presented in this format, children quickly come to understand that they can use these Powers to create good in the world.
And, make no mistake about it, there is no Courage without Fear.
However, we would strongly argue against viewing Fear as a negative. We want girls (and boys) to own and know their Fear, and to transform the role that it plays in their lives. Those who see it as only negative miss its inherent strength. Fear’s impulse to hide, or to stop something in its tracks, is an incredible tool. Learning to trust your instincts, to stop (freeze), to take a breath, and listen to Fear is important. Fear always has something powerful to say.
For many people, though, Fear is considered the enemy. It is something that holds us back; an obstacle that stands in our path, blocking our way. Like Harry Potter’s “He Who Shall Not Be Named,” although it is ever-present, no one ever really wants to talk about Fear. We believe that this is why our figure of Fear has generated such an intense response from adults.
Because, to be clear, children have absolutely no problem with our inclusion of Fear. Not only do they understand the notion that Fear is a required component in the creation and existence of Courage, they readily accept the fact that Fear is a part of them. After all, they live with it daily.
Humans are biologically hardwired to feel Fear. It is a useful and necessary function that protects us; not just from harmful outside forces, but from our own propensity to make poor choices as well. During adolescence and early adulthood, when the frontal lobe (the region in which our brain considers the consequences of our actions) is not yet fused, Fear – when it functions properly – protects teens and young adults from making an awful lot of terrible mistakes
It isn’t until we reach adulthood that we push Fear aside and pretend that it isn’t there. The problem? It is there. And to ignore it, is to give it even greater power over our lives.
Fear hovers just below the surface, ever-present and always a challenge. However, because the adults around them so often fail to articulate their own Fears, many children wrongly believe that Fear is something a person eventually outgrows. This could not be further from the truth.
That is why, in the IAmElemental universe, Fear is something to be embraced, not rejected. It is a Power that must be understood and accepted. And we have found that, far from troubling children, discussing Fear – and, especially, playing with Fear – helps children to master theirs.
We are very much committed to the idea that the truest and best use of Power is to channel it for good, share it, and make oneself and the world better as a result. However, we also recognize that, at the end of the day, we are all simply works in progress who have within us the capacity to make both good choices and bad ones every day.
The people who acknowledge this fact, and find ways to navigate both the best and worst within themselves, are the ones who make best use of their Superpowers, and have the greatest potential for heroism in their daily lives.
So, grown-ups, don’t fear Fear. Let your children play with this fierce, mysterious power. And, don’t be afraid to talk with them about Fear. You’ll be surprised – and amazed – at just how much they know.