Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fear 101

"When nothing is sure, everything is possible." 

- Margaret Drabble, English Novelist

Fear! The 'other' F word!  Just reading that four letter word makes many cringe.  Defined as "a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is REAL or IMAGINED; the FEELING or condition of BEING afraid" is often swapped for words such as dismay, dread and apprehension.  Fear, for the most part, is a negative and debilitating part of our lives.  The only time I personally consider it a positive thing is when it's a REAL condition, for instance a fight or flight situation.  Any other time it really has no place in any of our lives because the IMAGINED and the FEELING are just that, subjective to our thoughts and beliefs.

For far too many years of my own life I held myself captive by the negative side of fear.  Fear of failing, fear of not being liked, fear of success (go figure that one right?), fear of change, fear of making a mistake, fear of emotional pain, fear of the unknown, the unsure.  It is not like I was wrapped up in a ball scared of the world either.  I have lived.  I have had relationships, traveled, met people, nurtured friendships, and built two businesses from the ground up.  Problem was, I just wasn't living fully in all areas at all times.  It wasn't until I entered my third decade of the journey that I realized how much of an impact that awful four letter word was having on my life so I began the journey of self discovery to bury the monster.

The only workable solution I have found for anything having to do with fear is action and focusing on what is REAL vs IMAGINED.  I learned to dissect my thoughts into facts vs feelings too.  Given that fear often couples with indecisiveness (another form of not acting i.e. procrastination, etc.), I've learned to ask three questions of myself when struggling with a decision, small or large. 1) How is this going to effect me 10 minutes from now? 2) Ten months from now? and finally 3) Ten years from now?  Just those three questions alone have the ability to put the brakes on the high speed train to nowhere called procrastination.  Oh yes, the P word.  That will be another blog for another day.  So yes, I basically look at the pros and cons of doing and not doing at those three time periods.  I believe this is something I picked up from a Martha Beck column in O Magazine but I'm not 100% certain.  Obviously whomever's knowledge nugget it is, it's a good one so I'm passing it on to you. 

During this process I've also read many books on this subject to add to my arsenal of combative measures.  Joyce Meyer wrote some great books around this subject.  I've read both Managing Your Emotions and Battlefield of the Mind: Winning the Battle in Your Mind numerous times.  I believe so strongly in the knowledge of both of these books that I often pick them up used at consignment shops/thrift stores/goodwill, etc. and give them away to people I know or meet when the spirit tells me to do so.  You don't even have to be Christian to put into action the universal source knowledge contained within both of them.  To this day I have taped to my office wall a hand written note to myself quoting Emerson, "Do the thing you fear, and the death of fear is certain."

Does this mean I'll bite the bullet and push myself to get on another roller coaster (besides the kid's one at my amusement park and my one time traumatizing experience at age 9 on a wooden one) or jump out of an airplane to kiss my fear of extreme heights good-bye?  Really, I don't know the answer to that.  I could flat out feed you a load of crap and make a proclamation that by my 40th birthday I will do a, b or c but for now my acting on today is all that matters to me in the big picture.  Sure, I'd like to see myself doing those things, or at least trying them.  To me, those are real fears.  My fears.  Alas, I know people who love and do both things as much as they can.  I've even had dreams of being on roller coasters and actually enjoying them.  So again, I don't know the answer to that.

What I do know is that fear can rob you of moments, hours, days and years.  Living in a world where your imagination and feelings rule your life is fruitless.  It's painful.  It's not an authentic life.  If you allow fear to run any part of your existence you are essentially giving up on that very part of you where fear resides.  By one simple choice you're allowing the unknown to rule the known.

We all know that time is the one thing on the planet we can never get back, never replace.  I urge you with every fiber of my being that if fear, in any of its various disguises, is any part of your life that you do everything within your power to manage it and rid yourself of its negative connotations.  The truth is as Ms. Dabble stated, "when nothing is sure, everything is possible."  Choose to kick fear to the curb and live a life of endless possibilities.

Copyright ©2010 Nita Clewis All rights reserved.
For personal use only. Commercial use without permission is not allowed.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Taking the Lessons and The Love Forward

"Today I thought "I would do it all over again" if that was the only way I would ever know the people in my life that I love." - An Anonymous Friend

I have often said that some of the most painful moments in life have within them something positive, something lasting, something to take forward with you on the journey.  Many of us at first don't see it this way and sadly, too many of us never do.  Becoming jaded, depressed or negative and closed off to the world becomes the protective measure.  At what cost though?  There is a currency in our belief systems after all. 

On a personal note, I have made many mistakes in life that later turned out to be nothing but blessings because through them I met people in my life that I love or best of all, got to know myself better and love myself more and more each day.  Both my children, biological or not came from such circumstances.  Just this truth alone allows me to greet painful life moments with open arms for I know what beautiful things can come from it.

As a result of this growth, I am now able to greet adversity and change with acceptance.  By doing so much of the stress of life is removed and I am able to focus on the lesson, the triumph or the transcendence.  How have I made this shift?  Through daily gratitude and reflection. 

Gratitude, like everything else in life, is a choice.  No matter what life has for us, we can meet it with gratitude or we can meet it with contempt.  The latter is nothing more than resistance to what is.  Through acceptance and gratitude we claim victory (even for the wisdom gained by negative situations/people/events).  All that happens to us really does have a purpose.  Your job is to just figure it out and be grateful no matter what.  Is it an easy process at first? NO!  Does it get easier?  Oh yeah.  Eventually it becomes second nature.

Most of us have heard the saying if the only prayer you say all day is 'thank you' it is enough.  This mentality is not selective to any particular faith and remarkably, being grateful doesn't even have to be connected to any particular belief system.  I like to think that gratitude itself transcends any of them.  By being thankful and present (you have to be present to be thankful) you are opening yourself to endless possibilities.  Try it, I promise that you won't be disappointed.

Copyright ©2010 Nita Clewis All rights reserved.
For personal use only. Commercial use without permission is not allowed. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Givers & Takers: Which one are you?

For as long as I can remember, I have been lucky enough to live a life where I have been influenced by givers.  Nonetheless, as the ebb and flow of life would have it, I have also shared the journey with many a taker along the way.  Seems to me that is always how it works though, one cannot exist without the other being around.

You see, I have summed up all of humanity into two groups on the journey, givers and takers.  Those two descriptions have no race, religion, education, demographic title, or sex.  At your core nature, you are one or the other.  Can you be both?  Sure can.  Can one be aware either in themselves and decide to take advantage of those others who meet their needs through their opposite nature?  We see it all the time.  Simply put, one can't exist without the other but within the balance of both is an ideal civilization.

How would I define a giver?  They are your helping hands in life, the 'go to' friends, those who look out for others and give of themselves to not only their friends, but to complete strangers. A giver is the person who will actually be bothered to stop and help when you are in distress on the side of the road when their gut tells them they should be.  Givers tend to see the good in humanity, they answer the call for help when requested, and they're always ready, willing, and able to make a difference no matter how small.  They're entire life might not revolve around giving, i.e. volunteering all of their time and resources to others but they're still givers.  One can be a giver in their own family and circle of friends.

Takers, sometimes they have big ol' neon signs above their heads for all the world to see.  Their motives are front and center.  They're there to use and abuse until you're all used up and they move on.  Worse yet, sometimes they are disguised.  An example of a disguised taker would be someone in your life whom you feel the need to help, who seems to be on a good path in life, who seems to be trying to do the right things, when in reality they are not doing anything at all.

A small real life example is a friend of mine who owns a barn full of horses, some her own, some that are boarded there.  This woman is a giver through and through and as such, she has a soft spot for helping others.  For a while there was someone in her life who was there to care for the horses, a young woman who'd had some tough breaks in life, whom this woman wanted to see blossom into a strong resilient young woman.  Problem was, this young woman, time and time again was not responsible 100% of the time.  After all, these are living animals that require commitment and follow through.  The woman who owned the barn, being the giver and wanting the younger woman to rise above, would time and time again give her chances to do the right thing.  Finally, the giver woman had to realize that the younger woman was taking advantage of her kindness and that she had to let her go, that no matter how much she wanted to help, the taker had to help herself too.

How many of us currently have or have had people in our life who take advantage of our good natures, of our giver mentalities?  Some givers I know turn hard to this, they let the takers of the world extinguish their light, they shut themselves off and they stop giving.  If you're one of them I ask that you reexamine the power you've handed over to the these other people that jaded you along the way.  Think about it, when givers unite amazing things happen in the world.  I'm not talking about monetary giving either but that's a tangible example, i.e. world disaster aid relief.  Simply listening and sharing your knowledge on a subject to someone else benefits humanity.  If the takers of the world exhaust the givers the planet is basically screwed.  

The majority of the world's givers just get wiser for the wear and find it easier to recognize the 'in disguise' takers of their lives and are able to prune them away once recognized.  Is that an easy process?  No, but it's necessary to keep balance in your own life.

Copyright ©2010 Nita Clewis All rights reserved.
For personal use only. Commercial use without permission is not allowed.