What Scares You

Fear is most people’s nemesis.  We’re afraid to lose, to fail, to get hurt or to start again.  We’re afraid to frustrate loved ones, to be laughed at by friends, to not gain everyone’s approval.

Fear is in not knowing.  Take for example a newbie investor.  He’s unsure how the market is going to perform, where to invest his money, or to invest at all.  He fears he’s gonna make the wrong choices, lose his money and fail.

What could this person do? Study. Research. Know everything there is to know. When you learn, you equip yourself, and then you can make informed decisions.  What if the decision was wrong? The important thing is you did what you know was right at that particular time with all the information you have. If you fail, then take the lesson with you. Successful people pursue learning. It feeds their appetite.

Fear is a control issue. This is when a person knows he doesn’t have a hand or power over things. Paranoia exhibits this fear- a condition where one is obsessed with the belief that bad things are going to happen and that everybody is out there to get him. He becomes helpless, paralyzed, panicky, worrisome.This is not a pleasant and healthy state to be in and there’s no easy cure but two ways can help:   To trust and to let go.

First, It all boils down to your belief system.  when you learn to trust people and trust a Higher Being, your perspective change.  To worry and to focus on things you can’t control just doesn’t make sense. It’s  a waste of your time and energy, two resources that you have a limited supply of. To shift your focus on things you can control is more sensible and a more productive way to live your life. Delegate.  Do what you do best, and leave the rest to experts.  You ask for help, you collaborate or team up with the someone. You can even team up with God.

To let go on the other hand demands acceptance- the courage to embrace the truth.  There are things that are bound to happen. You can’t do anything about it.  Even if you can the efforts would be futile. Death, taxes, and change are on top of the list. You can’t avoid death. You can avoid taxes but with disastrous consequences. You can resist change but that will disrupt your growth.  See, it’s pointless to argue with these truths much more prevent it from taking place.

Lastly, fear is refusing to take responsibility for your own happiness. When you dread rejection or demand affection you are bound to fail. The former will immobilize you, the latter will frustrate you.  Don’t avoid the chances of getting turned down. Successful people have had a fair share of it. There’s  Colonel Sanders, Oprah Winfrey, and Sylvester Stallone to name a few. On the other hand, if you look forward to pleasing everybody- you will end up living up to their expectations and not yours. Remind me, who’s life is this again? Yours right?

Fear has many facets and all of it are not good for you. Of course, there’s a healthy kind of fear and it’s a topic worthy of discussion on a separate occasion.  For now, think about where your fear stems from, then deal with the root cause.  Work on what you can.  Everything else is not meant to be dealt with by you. Wave the white flag if you must.  Help will certainly come.

The Story of The Two Monks

“Be where you are; otherwise, you will miss your life.”

Buddha

Does it ring true to you?

There’s this story about two monks.

One night, the monks were headed back to the monastery. The journey was long, and they had to do it on foot, armed with only a staff and a lamp. 

An hour into their journey, heavy rain poured. But the monks were determined to reach their destination before midnight. So the two kept on and walked as fast as they could.

Up ahead, they saw an old car stuck on the side of the road. It looked like it hit a tree.  

Curious, the monks ran towards the car and saw a woman behind the wheel. 

“Hey, are you alright?”. Asked one of them.

“I saw something on the road, tried to avoid it, but my car swerved and struck this tree.”

The woman must have hit her head; it was bleeding.

“We can’t leave you here in the dark and with this heavy rain. Let us take you to a clinic”.

The older monk helped the woman out of the car, carried her, and hurried towards the clinic. Soon after relaying the incident to the doctor, the two monks left and continued their journey.

A couple of hours later, the monastery was on sight. As they walked closer towards the door, the younger monk asked the older one, 

“Teacher, you carried that woman into the clinic.”

The teacher replied, “I did, and I dropped her off two hours ago. But you are still carrying her in your thoughts.”

Doesn’t this happen to us most of the time?

With our thoughts, we either linger in the past or chase and try to outrun the future. We do it on autopilot, forgetting that we have a choice.

sundaewrites

Being trapped in our head puts us in states of anxiety, fear, overwhelm, anger and despair. The opposite of that is precisely what we want, isn’t it? We call it a resourceful state. A state where we are calm, collected, confident, and creative. 

The good news is, getting to this state is very simple. We just need to “Be in the present moment.

So what does it look like?

  1. We focus our attention on what’s unfolding now. We are aware of our own breathing, we feel the energy (the life) in our body, we are alert, and we can zoom in on a task at hand.
  2. We tune in to a higher power that makes known what it desires from us at this very moment. In prayer, it can sound like, “Lord, I am here, and I am ready. What do you want me to do today?”.
  3. We acknowledge and believe that we have all the resources to produce an outcome. It has already been given to us. We just need to identify what’s necessary at any given moment and tap into it.
  4. We feel joy or enjoyment in the process and recognize that what we are experiencing is not inferior to the desired outcome.

Think about your desire to be happy. It seems elusive because of the stories you have of the past and the future.

Past: “He insulted me yesterday. How dare he? He really hurt me and ruined my day. I’ll never forgive him”.

Realize:

(1) How much suffering was caused by the actual event; and

(2) How much suffering was caused by your continuous story of how the person has hurt you. 

Future: “When I get the promotion next year, I’ll be happy and start spending weekends with my family.”

Realize how you’re postponing happiness and putting off family time (something you value) into a future that may not even come. Time as we know, is valuable and will cease at an unknown point.

Present: I choose to be happy now. End of story. 

Our lives are made up of a billion present moments. But where you are alive, and breathing is this moment right here. So choose it and notice how liberating that is.

sundaewrites

Negative Emotions

“I’m meeting this year with a lot of fear.”

“Fear of what?”

“Life in general. I didn’t even dare to go out during my entire break.”

“Hmm, that’s a big statement- Life in general.”

“Yeah, like what’s in store for me; what I’ve done for the last 40 years; do I have enough time? What do I prioritize? Everything is uncertain. You can’t plan ahead because it’s so unpredictable.”

“Yeah, the future is, but not the present moment.”

“I know I need to brush this feeling aside. Positive thoughts right?”

“Not necessarily. There’s such a thing as toxic positivity too.”

“So what do I do?”

“Just welcome the emotion. Be a space for it.”

lonely surfer riding waves in stormy sea
Photo by Nagore Ugarriza on Pexels.com

We looked at the waves crashing against the shore. They appear enormous but playful and eager to kiss the sand. 

A little while, the sound of the waves became louder, overwhelming, terrifying.

“See, fear can sound like that. But just like any emotion they come and go unless we choose to hang on to them.”  

“What do you mean?”

“Just hold them lightly.”

“I can try, but they seem to linger like they don’t wanna go away.”

“Hmm, well, you can,”

Treat emotions as signposts. Evaluate them and ask yourself, what could it mean, what is it telling you about your needs and values, what is it there to teach you.”

sundaewrites

“I never thought about that. Does that mean I don’t need to run away from them?”

“You’re right. Remember your emotions don’t call the shots. You do.”

This was the recent conversation I had with a friend. If I recall the discussions I had during the past year, most of it centered around fear, along with anxiety and grief.

The default response is to brush these “negative” emotions aside. Like we should be allergic to them. But what you resist, persists. Doesn’t it?

“Don’t fight against negative emotions-It’s exhausting. Try to embrace them instead.” 

Anoir Ou-Chad

I know it’s easier said than done. But would you choose to be crippled by your emotions?

While fear isn’t something I struggled with, I know a thing or two about “unwanted, unlikable, emotions”. 

Eight years ago, I experienced grief over losing a loved one. At first, I didn’t know what to do with it. So I denied and buried it only to see it resurface during my “unguarded moments.”  

My thought was, I needed to be strong. There are better things to do than grieving. Of course, there are. But like every life lesson, it stays on repeat until you get it, get it, get it.

One day, I said, “Okay, let’s stop running and face this head-on.”

I imagined grief approaching my doorstep looking like a weary traveler. 

“Come in,” I said.

“Well, finally. I’ve been wondering when you’d invite me in. You see, I can’t leave without giving you these.”  

art dirty texture abstract
Photo by Eva Elijas on Pexels.com

I opened the parchment and there was a list of things that grief wanted to teach me.

  • Take every opportunity to let people know how I feel about them.
  • That it’s okay for me or for anyone to need someone.
  • That it’s okay to miss people when they’re gone.
  • But more wonderful, to create memories with them while we can.
  • That every life comes to an end. That’s just how it is.
  • That I can choose to honor a loved one’s memory by living out the lessons their life has taught me.

Similar to grief, I believe fear has its own intentions too. If you’re experiencing it perhaps it’s,

  • Telling you that you value security. So what area of your life do you need to work on? Is it finances? Health? Relationships? Where should you invest your time, energy, and resources?
  • Warning you of danger, and hence you need to protect and keep yourself safe.
  • Reminding you to put your faith into action. Do you need to trust more- be it trusting God, yourself, the people around you? What are things that are beyond your control and therefore you need to let go of?
  • Inviting you to see, that the universe is there to support you, not to hurt you.
  • Letting you know that you’re dealing with something unfamiliar or out of your comfort zone, and such presents an opportunity for you to learn and grow.

Think about it. Every emotion has a purpose. But that purpose can never be realized if we lock them away.  

So next time a “negative” emotion comes, just welcome it as you would a good friend. They are inherent to life. And if we’re to experience life in its fulness, we need to embrace every part of it, the good and the bad, however, we label them.

This Is Why You Never Get To Fulfill Your Dream

My friend’s biggest regret is not being able to pursue her passion.  “Life got in the way”, she said.  I could feel her deep sense of frustration while we were talking. It was a bit disappointing too. Why? There she was, in her 40s, still young, but already giving up on her dreams. In her mind, there is no room for it anymore.

I think that’s the main problem.  We give up on our dreams even before we could even begin to make them happen.  We come up with a dozen excuses, like not having the time, not being ready, not having the opportunity.  All these limiting beliefs come into the surface and  90% of the time these are self-created.  The obvious question is this:

Who would believe you then if you don’t believe in yourself?

“The only person who can pull me down is myself, and I’m not going to let myself pull me down anymore.” ― C. JoyBell C.

At the root of giving up too soon is FEAR.

Fear of Failure

Who wants to be called a loser, right? Nobody wants to be laughed at, ignored, or rejected. Hence, to avoid the pain and shame, we never try. When we don’t try we feel like a failure- frustrated and angry.  Then we pick ourselves up and attempt again only to get cold feet at the first thought of failure. As you can see, the cycle continues.

Fear of The Unknown

For most of us, we like to figure out EVERYTHING before we begin. We like things to be predictable and certain, so we think long, and research a lot like we have an eternity to do it. We spend so much time planning that we never launch. Oftentimes we get caught up in what we call Analysis Paralysis.

Analysis paralysis (or paralysis by analysis) describes an individual or group process when overanalyzing or overthinking a situation can cause forward motion or decision-making to become “paralyzed”, meaning that no solution or course of action is decided upon.   [Wikipedia]

Fear immobilizes us and kills our dreams. Imagine the power we give it.

There are different ways to cope with FEAR but I believe we could start with two.

Don’t take yourself too seriously. 

Life is too short.  Learn to laugh at yourself, and try again. Ask stupid questions if you must and use outcomes as your feedback, to do better, to know better.  Grow. That’s the more important thing.

Give yourself a deadline when making decisions.

Forget about perfection. Clarify your goal. Break down complex matters into smaller actionable steps. That way you don’t feel overwhelmed. Baby steps. Just like the old days.

I believe it’s always a question of how desperate you are to get something. It’s like gasping for air when you’re suffocating. If you want  it bad enough, you know you have to do something and do it.

sundaewrites

What Scares You

Fear is most people’s nemesis.  We’re afraid to lose, to fail, to get hurt or to start again.  We’re afraid to frustrate loved ones, to be laughed at by friends, to not gain everyone’s approval.

Fear is in not knowing.  Take for example a newbie investor.  He’s unsure how the market is going to perform, where to invest his money, or to invest at all.  He fears he’s gonna make the wrong choices, lose his money and fail.

What could this person do? Study. Research. Know everything there is to know. When you learn, you equip yourself, and then you can make informed decisions.  What if the decision was wrong? The important thing is you did what you know was right at that particular time with all the information you have. If you fail, then take the lesson with you. Successful people pursue learning. It feeds their appetite.

Fear is a control issue. This is when a person knows he doesn’t have a hand or power over things. Paranoia exhibits this fear- a condition where one is obsessed with the belief that bad things are going to happen and that everybody is out there to get him. He becomes helpless, paralyzed, panicky, worrisome.This is not a pleasant and healthy state to be in and there’s no easy cure but two ways can help:   To trust and to let go.

First, It all boils down to your belief system.  when you learn to trust people and trust a Higher Being, your perspective change.  To worry and to focus on things you can’t control just doesn’t make sense. It’s  a waste of your time and energy, two resources that you have a limited supply of. To shift your focus on things you can control is more sensible and a more productive way to live your life. Delegate.  Do what you do best, and leave the rest to experts.  You ask for help, you collaborate or team up with the someone. You can even team up with God.

To let go on the other hand demands acceptance- the courage to embrace the truth.  There are things that are bound to happen. You can’t do anything about it.  Even if you can the efforts would be futile. Death, taxes, and change are on top of the list. You can’t avoid death. You can avoid taxes but with disastrous consequences. You can resist change but that will disrupt your growth.  See, it’s pointless to argue with these truths much more prevent it from taking place.

Lastly, fear is refusing to take responsibility for your own happiness. When you dread rejection or demand affection you are bound to fail. The former will immobilize you, the latter will frustrate you.  Don’t avoid the chances of getting turned down. Successful people have had a fair share of it. There’s  Colonel Sanders, Oprah Winfrey, and Sylvester Stallone to name a few. On the other hand, if you look forward to pleasing everybody- you will end up living up to their expectations and not yours. Remind me, who’s life is this again? Yours right?

Fear has many facets and all of it are not good for you. Of course, there’s a healthy kind of fear and it’s a topic worthy of discussion on a separate occasion.  For now, think about where your fear stems from, then deal with the root cause.  Work on what you can.  Everything else is not meant to be dealt with by you. Wave the white flag if you must.  Help will certainly come.