Fear showed up on my doorstep this week, in predictable fashion. Ha! Little did it know I was actually waiting for it. In fact, I welcomed it!
“Oh, hello, Fear. I’ve been waiting for you. Have a seat. No, not right next to me; over there, in the corner, and keep your hands up where I can see them!”
Fear and I have a little thing goin’ on. Which is so much better than the BIG thing we used to have goin’ on. Back “in the day”, Fear used to look more like this:
What a pain in my Smart Ass.
I have come to accept that Fear is never going to leave me, for good. And, in a way, that’s a good thing because Fear always has a lesson to teach me.
My mother-in-law died this past week and, bam, there was Fear — she even brought one of her cousins this time: Worry.
Worry really knows how to get under my skin.
“What if the children get really sad?” Fear whispered.
“What if your husband falls apart?” Worry added.
“What if you’re next?” they taunted in unison.
“How about the two of you make like a couple o’ bananas and split,” I countered, meekly. Ugh… I was clearly off my game. I wish I could’ve come up with a stronger counterattack… something like…
“Get the %&$# outta my house, dammit.”
I guess there are more lessons that need to be learned.
C’mon Fear, enlighten me.
If you’ve read Parts 1 and 2 in this series on how Fear is Fattening (Part 1 HERE; Part 2 HERE) you know that the Fear we create in our minds can wreak havoc in our lives if we don’t get a handle on it: it can send us running to the refrigerator in search of
food; it can make us do all kinds of crazy things in our misguided attempts to shake it out of our lives.
In other words: we run from the very Fear we have conjured up out of thin air. We create it. Then we run from it.
It’s enough to make a grown woman want to yell and scream and throw herself on the floor like a toddler-gone-wild in the supermarket.
“What if I die?” (Um, yup, that’s gonna happen, so that’s a useless thought. No “if” about it.)
“What if the children get really sad?” (Yup, they probably will. Can I allow them the space to be sad without having a mother to add negative energy to the mix?”)
“What if my husband falls apart?” Yes. That might happen, too. (Can I be there for him? Can I show up with strength and calm instead of going down the rabbit hole with him? Can I be the soft place for him to land? Can I give him the gift of his own life lessons?)
Like I always say, Fear is an AFGO* of epic proportions.
I’m not talking about “Look-out-there’s-a-Grizzly-bear” kind of fear… that kind of fear doesn’t have a capital “F” because it’s real fear: no thinking required — with real fear, all you need to do is DO SOMETHING. Real fear requires action because it’s based in fact: there’s a Grizzly bear chasing your ass!
Fake Fear, on the other hand, has no basis in fact. It’s a creation of the mind and it’s dangerous. It causes us to lose our shit, big time. Because there’s nothing to do when it comes to fake Fear, we don’t know what to do.
So we make it up: maybe we eat. Maybe we go shopping. Maybe we drink a little more.
We make up the thought.
Which makes up the feeling (FEAR).
Then we make up something to do in order to deal with the feeling (EAT).
Then we repeat the think-feel-do cycle all over again.
The first step is to become aware of when Fear shows up at your doorstep. Pin-point the thought you’re thinking that creates the feeling of Fear. Then just notice what the feeling of Fear makes you want to do.
Then, lay down the ground rules:
1. Tell your Fear it must knock, first. This requires you to listen for the knock, otherwise it will just let itself in and follow you everywhere.
2. Tell Fear it must sit in the corner. This will shrink Fear down to size. Since I’m such a visual person it helps me to literally tell Fear where it is allowed to sit — it’s usually in a lonely corner somewhere where I vow to keep a constant eye on it.
3. Give Fear your undivided attention. When you’re calm, listen to your Fear. Ask it where it came from. How long has it been following you around? What is it trying to teach you about you?
The point isn’t to eradicate an emotion: instead, we want to be able to manage our emotions. We do this by managing our minds. Then we use our free will to skip the cake and cookies and make choices that serve our best interests.
For me, Fear has been an incredible teacher. It taught me that I had a hidden belief that if I worried enough I could prevent something from happening.
It wasn’t until I found this underlying belief that I could realize how much energy I was spending trying to stop the inevitable. (This was something I had learned from my family of worriers. Realizing this helped me to see that it was just a bunch of hooey we had passed on to each other — and there was NO EVIDENCE THAT IT WORKED. EVER.)
My children will be sad.
My husband is going to hurt.
I am going to die some day.
It has taken practice but I have come to accept these things, on most days.
I can feel my sadness in a clean way without adding a layer of Fear on top.
I can teach my family to do the same.
And most importantly, I have learned to listen for the knock.
Knock-knock: Fear calling.
*AFGO = Another Fkucing Growth Opportunity
Kick Fear in the ass! (Tweet that.)
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UP NEXT: FEAR IS FATTENING Part4