When that wild-eyed, evil-faced, roaring lion is tearing up the ground, racing towards you at pace, now that’s a damn fine time to be filled with unbridled fear and total panic. The perfect time to be high-tailing it out of there, and to hell with those experts who say you should stand still, facing your fear.
Not a chance, never. Run like the wind.
This is the fear of physical risk or bodily harm, and I strongly suggest that you give in to it. Take action immediately, since I can almost bet that your life depends on it.
Fast forward to your current and reasonably safe suburban life, no wild-eyed lions prowling around, no immediate cannibals ready to stew you for dinner, and no imminent famine. Tell me, honestly, how much of your fear is, in fact, based on rational, genuine life or death situations?
No, your number of Instagram likes dropping is not in quite the same category of fear as that lion hunting you down, determined to make you its meal of the day.
These days the fear gripping your heart with icy cold fingers in the middle of the night is that elusive, unseen, non-real, never to be named “thing”.
It’s a “thing” that instantly turns you into a 5-year-old, desperately searching for that monster underneath your bed, just to find that the monster now lives on the inside.
It’s constantly tagging along on your journey, the uninvited guest you hide far back in the scullery and keep at bay by pretending “thing” does not exist.
My “thing” is very active and full of chatter between 2 and 4 in the morning. Yours?
Where exactly is “thing” lurking during the day?
I have realised that “thing” knows during the day we are distracted, surrounded by technology, and maybe even a human or two. However, between 2 and 4 it can get 100% of our attention, just the way “thing” likes it, isolating us so that it has the most impact, control and influence over our thoughts.
Let’s be honest you weren’t worried about monsters under your bed during the day when you were playing cops and robbers were you?
Some quick theory
There are essentially three types of fear:
- Rational fear: occurs when there is a real imminent threat, i.e. that roaring lion.
- Primal fear: fear that is programmed into our brains, i.e. fear of snakes, heights, spiders etc.
- Irrational fear: fears that do not make any logical sense, i.e. the “thing” – you know the 2 to 4 in the morning uninvited, talkative visitor.
For most of us, “thing” arrives wearing the attire of irrational fear, worrying about things we cannot possibly influence or control. Anxieties about the past, and worries about the future which 95% of the time NEVER even happen.
The three primary human fears:
- Fear of death: sorry to say, this one is a given (and a topic for another blog).
- Fear of abandonment: is the abandonment of self not what causes most of your pain and regret? When you give up on yourself and hide your essential self from the world instead of acceptance when you don’t give your best?
- Fear of failure: seriously, failure defined by WHO? Let me quickly remind you of Einstein, Walt Disney, Oprah, and Bill Gates who were all considered failures by mainstream, boring, average humans. Don’t go there, don’t allow the opinions of others to define you.
Safe v. GREAT
Essentially, fear keeps you focused on moving away from a problem, avoiding something, and focussed on reacting (based on past experience). It seldom motivates you to move towards a goal, focussing on creation (future orientated). Its primary purpose is to keep you SAFE not GREAT.
Do you want to live a safe, limited, controlled life?
Or do you want to live a great, incredible life filled with unlimited possibilities?
Important to remember is that fear significantly dims your life force, and if you cannot transform it, or build a new relationship with it, it has to DIE.
I suggest building a new relationship with “thing”.
Have you ever actually stopped and looked this damn “thing” in the eyes, and asked it ” are you even real”?
I hear “thing” quickly responding “well, let me just remind you what happened the last time you thought of doing something like that”?
Sounding familiar? I know because my “thing” never hesitated to remind me of my past mistakes. In fact, it seemed to relish in the opportunity to go into endless detail, making wild accusations that, when properly unpacked, were very often pure fiction.
I have a feeling all our “things” are cut from the same cloth.
I say the time is NOW to remind “thing” that the past and all the false accusations only exist in its head, that you have moved forward, learnt from the past, and that your future is filled with possibilities.
It’s time to turn your foe into your friend, putting an end to the unhealthy power fear has over your life. It’s the power fear holds that has to die, not fear itself, since putting an end to all fear is firstly impossible, and secondly, life-threatening.
What needs to break off and die allowing you to live free from the bondage of fear?
Could it perhaps be all those expectations? Yours and other people’s?
Or perhaps it’s those fixed, limiting beliefs about what is, and what is not possible that “things” long talons attach and cling to during those mid-morning visits?
Remember that there is nothing quite as perilous as a fixed belief. Nothing is a more fertile feeding ground for fear, aka “thing” than fixed, immovable, inflexible beliefs. If you believe there is only ONE possible outcome, or option, of course you will find yourself filled with fear. Because rationally, the probability of the outcome being that one is kinda low in a world filled with unlimited possibilities.
Would it not be more empowering to consider multiple possible outcomes? Some maybe not quite as appealing, but perhaps allowing for more growth, stretch and opportunity?
Remember that every single person on this bus called Earth is afraid. The difference is what you do with this fear, and it’s this choice that defines what you do or don’t achieve.
Can you accept that life is uncertain?
Remember that IF is right in the middle of the word LIFE, I guess uncertainty is inevitable.
If you say yes, then could the goal of life not be focused on increasing certainty? Rather it is to relax into the mystery of not knowing while fully still trusting the future, because you trust yourself, and your daily choices. You firmly believe that no single outcome or event in life has the power to define you.
You have the courage to back yourself, to get up, to befriend “thing” knowing its heart is in the right place.
Overcoming fear requires COURAGE. The courage to look “thing” in the eyes and say, “Hi, thank you for always only wanting to keep me safe, for always looking out for me, even if only from your perspective, I appreciate you. However, I would like the two of us to consider facing the future together, as partners, because at times I may need your perspective, some of your experience”.
Then gently take “thing’s” hand, and invite it into the future with you, whispering in its ear …….. “please come along, our future awaits, and together I know there is little that can stop us”.
I did this with my fears, and today when they come knocking I physically get up and take “thing’s” hand, reminding it that we are in this together and that we trust each other. I thank “thing” for caring for me and showing me what risks to be aware of, and the minute I do this, “thing” relaxes, stops screaming and steps in beside me as we face the future hand in hand.
You see the important point here is that the moment “thing” feels valued, not ignored, not judged and not ridiculed, its voice often becomes more gentle, less frightening, and sometimes provides valuable insights. Hiding, paralysed by all the what-ifs simply gives “thing” all the power, leaving you cowering under the covers of life, living a safe, limited, and uninspiring life of survival.
Don’t you rather want to thrive?
How often was there actually a monster under your bed? When you summoned up the courage to take a peep, did you find anything there?
“Thing” is no different, it just wants to be seen, for you to have a look, and maybe even get to know it a little; not give in, or get paralysed by it.
Are you ready to take the courageous decision to befriend “thing”?
“Feel the fear and do it anyway”.