While inspiring people to become empowered, I’ve heard many stories about how fear limits joy. When we can’t seem to find the life in our life, fear is often why! In today’s article, we’ll look at whether our fears are actually true … and how we can let some go to experience more joy.
The lynchpin: Does fear define us?
I’ve noticed that there is a common, false belief about fear. The good news is that it’s a belief, and beliefs can be changed. The belief is that we ARE our fear. An example of this is if we believe and “are afraid” that we will always need to drink to escape our thoughts and life because there “isn’t” any better way, “everyone” else does it and we’d better just “suck it up” and blot out our feelings for awhile because that’s “as good as life gets.” By seeing fear as part of “who we are,” we accept it like any other part of us—like our arm or upper lip. Acceptance gives fear the power to stay with us.
Fear has its perks
Fear is not without its perks. It actually serves a purpose. It “protects” us from the potential pain (and JOY) of change—of living life to the fullest. In other words, when we’re afraid, we stay stuck in what we “know,” whether it’s a job, relationship, addiction, etc.. Too afraid to step into the “unknown” of change and potential freedom, we limit our joy.
Fear is a parasite
Like tapeworm to an animal or orchids to a tree, fear is a parasite to us. It requires our energy in order to survive. What it gives in return is a false wall of protection from whatever we believe we’ve been hurt by in the past. How naïve of us to mistake our parasite for who we are!
Mistaking a rope for a snake
A favorite story from my mentor sheds brilliant light on this subject. John Dobson, cosmologist, physicist and monk of almost thirty years, told the story often and we never tired to hear it.
He would say, “When it’s a sunny and “good” day and everything’s going right for us, we might decide to take a walk. And when it’s a good day, everything looks beautiful. We see vivid colors in the trees. We hear supple songs of birds and bees. We feel the light caress of summer breeze, and everything is fine. While on our walk, should we see something lying there in our upcoming in our path, we might become curious and interested in discovering its nature. We might slowly approach, curiosity growing. Getting closer, we would realize that we’ve come upon a previous traveler’s coiled rope, dropped from a carry-sack and say to ourselves, “Look, a rope!”
If, however, we took this very same walk when we were having a “bad” day, things might look very different. It might seem cloudy and grey instead of sunny. It might seem dismal instead of delightful. We may not hear a single birdsong or feel any breeze. And on that same day, should we see something lying on our shadowy path ahead, something round and coiled, we might stop fearfully in our tracks, scream, “Snake!” and run.
He would always follow up his story with a reminder to not project our limited, fearful thinking onto a safe and wonderful life. He’d say, “Take time to observe the truth, and don’t mistake a rope for a snake! You might need that rope to climb the next hill!”
Fear and Anger
As a movie quote recently reminded me, “Those in fear will attack.” Anger is a common reaction to talking about things that scare us. Especially if we’re afraid that things will never get better or that we’ll have to give up our “bad habits.”
In case any of us might be feeling angry right now, we need not “be afraid,” since fear is just a parasitic, energy-sucking habit that we can lovingly let go. And I am here to look deeply into your heart and speak softly. I am here to say that it can get better, and you CAN do it.
The two “f” words
There are two, true “F” words in the English language, and neither of them rhyme with “luck.” They are polar opposites on the Life-Scale barometer of everything, and whichever we choose as our barometer, it will colour our entire experience of life.
The two words are fear and faith. By fear, I mean anything that restricts us or holds us back from fully living and expressing our truth. By faith, I mean heart-alliance to the fact that unseen/unknown factors for our good, aka “Life/God/The Universe,” have the power to change us and life in beautiful, hope-filled ways.
If we look closely and deeply, THE “f” WORDS ARE AT THE VERY HEART OF EVERY DECISION WE MAKE. Let’s think of our last decision. Maybe it was what to order off the menu for lunch. Did we decide in FEAR that we “might as well order the deep-fried enchilada and monster margarita” because we already screwed up our diet at breakfast (defeatism), that we had a hard day and tomorrow will be just as hard (is that true?), and we’re never going to lose weight anyway (is that true?)? Or did we choose a grilled taco salad and unsweet tea in faith that each meal matters and it will nourish us so we may grow in strength and courage to continue making good choices and lose that extra weight after all?
Sure, we can see the immediate results of making choices in fear. Results like, “Yum! This enchilada and margarita are good!” Yet, these everyday, moment-to-moment decisions perpetuate the cycle of drama. Though we may have had a moment of “yumminess” as we anticipated our lunch and ate it, afterwards and for days, weeks, months or even years later, we may be filled with destructive thoughts like (“OMG I really blew it! I just downed a whole enchilada and monster marg! I’m such a fat, lazy, pig!) and sadness (“I’m such a loser. I’ll always be fat.”).
As we can see, by making fearful choices, we perpetuate our fearful “problems.” Nothing against enchiladas or margaritas—they can both be delicious and an occasional treat. However, instead of letting fear drive our everyday choices, we could bank on the long-term results of faith, confidence, beauty, health, joy and fun. And when we do, we open our own floodgates to a better future. And that’s the essence of using willpower wisely—to choose our “best” choice, and delay immediate “yumminess” for long-term rewards in every area (character, health, wealth and joy).
Truth be told, most fear ain’t fact!
Truth be told, most fear simply isn’t fact. If we look at our fear and ask, “Is this really true?,” we might find that our truth is under the fear. For example, maybe we think we’re afraid of dogs, when in reality, we just don’t want to be bitten like we were once before. That doesn’t mean that being afraid of all dogs will help us. As a matter of fact, that one “bad” experience and the corresponding choice to fear “all” dogs could deny us the love of many dogs over a lifetime.
What do you fear? Are you ready to let it go?
If we’re ready to pull out the fearful parasite that takes energy from our growing willpower, we can begin by taking time to give these four things a whirl.
#1 Call out the fear.
Maybe we’re afraid that we will always be fat and poor. To begin to free ourself from letting the fear control us, we can admit it.
We can say out loud to ourself,
“I FEEL afraid that I will always be fat and poor!”
(Be aware not to say we ARE afraid. Because we are not our fears.)
#2 Ask, “Is this fear true?”
Maybe our fear has always been true in the past. Maybe we have always been fat and poor. HOWEVER, will we, in fact, always be fat and poor … every single day for the rest of our life? Are we willing to accept that? Is that “good enough” for us? Will we define our future by your past? Is that all we are and are capable of? Can I get a “Hell NO?” If so …
We can say out loud to ourself, “Just because I always have been fat and poor, doesn’t mean I always will be!!!! Every moment is new.”
#3 Thank the fear and let it go.
“What?” you might ask?!? Thank the fear? Yes, let’s thank the fear for serving a vital purpose—protecting us from succeeding and failing, because it doomed us before we started. Now we can give ourself the opportunity to grow beyond that by saying aloud, “Thank you fear, for trying to protect me. I have outgrown the need to live with you and willingly let you go so I CAN succeed.” (Personally, I do this while looking in the mirror, and also pray for support and release). Then take a deep breath, feel lighter and SMILE!
#4 Ask, “What choice can I make in faith?”
If you had full faith that you and Life/God could succeed and become healthy, wealthy, and wise, what choice(s) would you make?
What say ye?
Please share your thoughts and feelings so we may grow in strength and willpower together …
Always with love,
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