Saturday, May 16, 2009

What Are You Afraid Of?

What are you afraid of? Is it the loss of a job? Is it being left or cheated on by your partner? Is it cancer or heart disease? Is it money? Perhaps it's the welfare of your child or children? No doubt, most of us have experienced at least one of if not all of these fears. And, invariably, we respond by either doing everything we can think of to avoid the fears becoming a reality, or, by doing everything we can to avoid thinking about them.

In other words, we're OK when we either convince ourselves that whatever we fear isn't going to happen or we get what we fear out of our minds. The problem with these two approaches is that, well... they don't work, or at least not for long.

No matter how much we do to convince ourselves that what we fear won't happen, doubts always creep back in. For example, if we fear cancer, we might get a screening to ease our minds, which works for a while, but... If we fear the loss of our job, we might begin to work harder or talk ourselves up with management or seek reassurances from the boss, but any relief is only temporary. If we fear our partner leaving us, we might start watching what they do or checking up on them when they're away or confronting them whenever doubt or jealousy enter into the picture, but none of these approaches seem to really help.

So, the question is, "what's a sustainable approach to dealing with our fears?" The answer occurred to me when my friend Paul was asking me questions about things that I fear. In this case, my fear was focused on not being enough or good enough. I always believed that there was more that I could do in any situation and I would run myself ragged trying to do enough or be good enough.

Paul and I pursued several lines of what it meant for me to be not good enough: not good enough in my work, not good enough for my parents, not good enough for my family, and so on. I built it so big that I finally said, "for me, it would amount to simply being worthless."

At that point Paul asked this great question, "How would you feel if tomorrow morning you woke up and you were worthless? Completely and utterly worthless?"

As I considered the question, the answer was really surprising: I'd feel great! If I woke up tomorrow morning and I were to find myself completely worthless, I would feel completely free of expectations, unencumbered by commitments, and on and on and on...

Since then, I've concluded that the best way to deal with fear is to simply face it straight on and know that I'll be OK. Not just OK, I'll be great. Starting with the premise that I'll be OK sets me onto a completely different thought path and I come up with amazing results, results that don't require others proving to me that what I fear isn't going to happen, results that simply depend on me. Further, a nice side effect of just embracing what I fear and knowing that I'll be OK is that I also tend to convince myself that what I was fearing is silly and not going to happen.

So, what are the current big fears in your life? Are you worried about the economy and money? Do you worry about your kids being OK? Are you fearful of you partner or spouse cheating on you? How would starting with the premise that, no matter what happens, I'll be OK, affect you and how you handle your fears?

1 comment:

  1. As far as the emotion we refer to as Fear, I continue to refer to Bears profoud statement, that there is but one emotion, Love,(trust,)...Fear, and all the countless variations, is but the absence of it


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