How I Faced My Own Fears

By asking myself what was my intention, for doing or not doing something, which I knew it was the best thing for me, I came to question: how do I feel about it?  What do I really want, why do I want? Was it avoidance of something I did not want to face?  Was it fear, insecurity, rebelliousness, lack of enthusiasm?

I questioned myself all the time and slowly started to notice how weak my intentions were. If I had weak intentions, my commitments didn’t amount to very much either. I felt I was not in charge of my life. That realization put me in touch with fear.

It is fear of failure, or fear of being rejected, or fear of how other people will think of me, or fear of looking stupid.

In my case, I lost a job, and after some time of looking for a new job, I put off even looking in the paper, searching the internet or talking with people who I had contacts with in my field. There was such unwillingness in me to apply for a job or even to call someone who could help. I was discouraged, continued to be poor and frustrated. Eventually I settled for a very frugal lifestyle, living on a meager income and as the prices went up I lived on less and less… until it became a crisis.  I had to work, and I felt victimized.

It was a difficult time for me. I felt I was not in charge of my life. I responded by blaming everyone: the economy, the employers that would not respond to my resume, my friends who wouldn’t help me. Anything was a target for my frustration. In retrospect I can see how it could have been different, if I had taken responsibility for my life… But I had not. I put it off.

So, we all make mistakes… and we learn from them. During this time, I learned much about myself and how I respond to situations which are difficult for me. Eventually I found what was at the center of my resistance.

What I found was fear. At first I perceived a vague anxiety, but did not want to talk about it. Still, every time I started drawing and painting …it looked like fear. Even though it was not easy, I started questioning.

What was fear to me? It felt like being in a dark room full of furniture in it, and whenever I moved, I bumped into something. I didn’t know what I was bumping into and where to push it to. In other words, it was frustrating, uncertain and paralyzing. The thought of confronting it made me even more afraid.

I noticed my life was dominated by fear, and I noticed too, that it was true of almost everyone I knew.

So I reached a point where I chose to face my fear. It’s an interesting thing, but when I  choose to face your fear, it’s like I put a bright spot light on it, and became aware of it, and it faded, just as a shadow shrinks in growing light.

In my experience – as I stated before – it was as if I was in a dark room, with furniture in it. When it is illuminated, it may be uncomfortable, or even silly, but it’s no longer dangerous. I ask myself, “how did you get in this situation?” But there is no danger. And if there is real danger, I can see more clearly what I need to do: either get away from the situation or  call for help.

Most of us are motivated by fear. When I think about it, so much of what we do is because we are afraid of something. Sometimes it’s subtle, but it’s there. We are either afraid of doing something or are afraid of not doing it. If you haven’t noticed, we are manipulated by fear, until we don’t know what we want, who we are or where are we going.

The idea is to not feel paralyzed by fear.  Don’t perpetuate a difficult situation; do something about it.

Look at the fear and stay with it, even though it is difficult. You might notice it’s actually difficult to breathe, or you get spaced out, or you feel a shakiness inside; just notice it. Don’t do anything about it, even if you feel uncomfortable. Notice when you start to relax and keep with the situation. After a while, pay attention to how it feels for you.

Amazingly enough, we even feel fear of being successful in a career. I know of people who are fearful of asking for a promotion or applying for a better job. It happens frequently, but why? Because we fear change, and we fear the unknown.  We know how it is now where we are, even though where we are is uncomfortable— but any change, positive or negative, brings with it the unknown aspect and therefore, the fear. Fear can control a lot in our lives. If we can diminish the hold it has on us, then we will gain a freedom we didn’t know before.

Fear can be a friend, also. I don’t want to give fear a bad rap. Suppose you are crossing a street and you see a truck out of control coming toward you. You don’t think twice you jump out of the way! Fear is very present in protecting your life. Fear is not bad; we only need to know fear and learn to discriminate when it’s working for us or against us. Use it to your advantage. Make it your friend. It is essential for your life.

         

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