Fear is that little gnawing knot in the pit of our stomach. Easy tasks appear larger than life when shrouded in fear. We may never be totally free from fear. However, we may be able to feel the fear, but tackle what we are afraid of anyway.
For our 30th birthday I wanted to be able to celebrate in a memorable way. So I arranged for my husband and I to go skydiving. I remember standing at the edge of the plane, watching clouds flying by underfoot, and being terrified. I also remember thinking this is a pivotal moment. We can feel the fear and jump anyway or we can step back and allow fear to take over.
When fear creeps in and threatens to overcome our focus what can we do? We can mentally walk ourselves through the process. I will pick up the phone and make this phone call. I will tackle the hardest things on my to do list first, so fear does not continue to gnaw in the background. The enemy of fear is action.
“What great thing would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?” – Robert Schuller.
Life may seem to kick our ass. The marriage does not live up to expectations. We get it all and it does not make us happy. We have tremendous success but still feel like we should be more. Our kids hurt us. Our employer does not appreciate us. We work too hard. We are given a life threatening diagnoses. Our weight has spiraled out of control. We feel defeated, powerless, afraid, hurt and scared.
What we may not realize is that EVERY person has these feelings. So what separates the person who pushes through from the person who gives up?
It is our own mental state that determines our reaction to life. Our reactions to life determine our results. When we allow fear to conquer our life, we live in fear and become a ‘stranger’ to ourselves.
When we push through fear we are practicing an act of love. We are focused on what makes us happy, living our purpose and that joy rather than fear is what we share with the world.
In other words who do you like to be around? Someone happy, vivacious, passionate about life or someone dull, depressed and downtrodden? What kind of person are you? Do you spread joy? Do you lift spirits? Do you think of how you can contribute to life or do you focus on your fear; your problems and the idea that no one has it as bad as you do? Is it all about me; my life, my goals, my ambitions, my trouble, my career, my finances, my children, my crosses in life to bare? As my friend says most of us focus on our ‘ka ka’ much of the time.
According to a recent Harvard study, some of us may have to work harder to stay in a joyful state.
“It turns out that, just like for weight, we have genetically determined happiness set-points. So if we’re not taking steps to improve our sense of well-being, we tend to gravitate back to the same level.” Depending on your genes, that level may be pretty happy or pretty unhappy, says Dr. Siegel, a Harvard professor and the faculty editor of Positive Psychology, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.
This ties in with previous blogs on the neuroscience of patterns we develop in our brain. It makes sense when we think in terms of how some people cram for tests and ace them while others work very hard for lower results.
So our DNA and our chemical brain patters do have an effect on our life. However, everyone seems to agree that if we are predisposed toward limiting behaviors then all the more reason to dig deep into our remarkable selves.
So what separates those that feel their fear and jump anyway? Here are some personal applications that have worked for me.
1. Stay in the now. Projection creates anxiety. Morbid reflection creates guilt, regret and depression. The NOW is all we really have. We can mentally bring ourself to the present moment “this is my purpose NOW, to accomplish this task.” Let me believe that I CAN do this. Do Not let fear say I can’t, this is too hard, and push us into giving up.
2. Practice Acceptance. If we sit and wish to be thin; nothing happens. We must accept the challenge of the hard work ahead. We must accept that what happened no longer exists and move forward with where we are now. We can not change the past. We can accept it and move forward.
3. Train our minds. I personally believe this is the most powerful step. Once we learn that we can train our minds, shift our thoughts, create new chemical paths, decide to change states and redirect our thinking in a positive and focused way then everything else can fall into place. WE HAVE THE POWER OF CHOICE IN EVERY THOUGHT WE HAVE; even if we don’t think so.
4. Let go of expectations, the ‘story’ or the script. If I work hard it will all work out. Not necessarily. That is a script or story we may tell ourselves and what happens if we give it our ALL and we fail? Then we lose faith. What if we show up and do what we love or what we feel we MUST. Then we accept that what comes is what comes. We stay focused on the now, accept what we are given, train our minds to embrace life on life’s terms with a positive attitude and let go of our expectations.
5. Be of service. Ever notice those who are happiest do for others? They think of others. They always come to your party with something to offer. They extend you invitations even if you don’t extend them in kind. They do volunteer work even though they are usually busier than most others. They have a large network of friends around them. They usually never tell you all they do; they just do it. They are often kind. They put love in much of what they do. Mostly they have learned that doing for others gets them out of their ‘little’ self. Think you have it hard, go visit orphaned children on the cancer ward who are going to die and their family has abandoned them.
6. Practice mindful appreciation. Decide to see the blessings in your life. Decide to be happy with what you are given. Look for ways to be thankful and then express that thanks in your attitude. Start each day counting your blessings instead of recounting your failure, the failures of others and how life has treated your poorly. An attitude of gratitude opens doors.