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.

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