Fear and Gratitude

The last blog post I left for you was about fear. Fright and the big scary monster, fear. I can picture fear, as it’s been with me since I could remember. I see it as the troll that lived under the cellar stairs in the farmhouse I grew up in. Whatever fear looks like for you know that it’s not real, it’s imagined. Yes, true, imagined. Just like the troll I imagined had set up a comfortable home under the stairs just to grab little girls legs and pull them under and eat them.  (no wonder kids get screwed up)

Fear, I’ve come to know, is the emotion that stops you in your tracks from creating all you want in life. It stopped me at 5 years old from going to the freezer in the basement for my Mum, and getting a pound of hamburger, and it has continued to stop me from creating greatness from my life. Fear is the emotion that would rather see you sit on the couch watching TV than take 20 minutes to do a yoga program that will help flatten your tummy out, or write the first chapter of your book. You know you’ve got a book in you. You’ve lived a life haven’t you? Writing a book isn’t what this entry is about, but know you could write a best-seller if that was what you wanted to do. So why do we let fear take the drivers seat and move us in directions we don’t necessarily really want to go and to destinations that once we get there we’re like, what the crap just happened? This is not where I wanted to be.

The why has been answered this week in the comments section of that last post. Check out the entire comment but I’m concerned with the parts where the writer, Ed Daube, PhD, The Emotions Doctor, explained fear from an expert’s opinion.

Fright he said is the only real fear. So when the bear bumps into you while you’re hiking the trails, run and run like hell or is that lay down and play dead? Well, I hope no one runs into a bear and takes my advice but you get the picture. Danger that can kill you needs some serious attention given it. Now he goes onto say that the fear I was talking about is actually anxiety. He says it much better than I so again go to this post and read the comment. In my words, the fear we let control our lives is anxiety, and that is the worry of future events that may occur. May, being the operative word. We worry about the future and bring on all kinds of  trouble in our lives – anger, frustration, sickness, sadness, etc. We worry about  where money to live will come from, we worry what people will think of us, we worry about our stuff back in that 10X10 storage unit, we worry about the police cars that patrol the street in our temporary neighborhood – have we moved into a drug drop area? These may not be your current worries but they are mine. This is a slice of what we worry about and that worry prevents us from seeing what is right in front of us.

Donna M Butler, my co-host on The Attitude Shift talked about it today on her audio boo. She talked about stripping away our expectations and I’ll add worry, and focusing on what we have right now and being grateful for it. Having taken off those rose colored glasses we all take up wearing as we mature and switching them for transition lens, you begin to see life and your role in it much more clearly in any light. Today, I took a look at where I was at the moment. I had a roof over my head that doesn’t leak. I slept through the night comfortably and soundly. I woke at 5 am to hear water, the lifeblood of life on earth, rhythmically hitting the siding of the house. I looked around my humble surroundings and didn’t worry that it wasn’t the picture perfect abode I wanted on the oceanside or that a woman had been almost beaten to death in the kitchen before I moved in, or will there be a drive by shooting one night, and will I be in the line of fire?  Instead I welcomed it as being an integral part of my life and my journey to create all I want. I live to learn, and in turn to share and make someone else’s journey less worrisome and more amazing. Hey, I look at the bright side, there’s a body of water outside the kitchen window – a manmade lake from the sprinklers but it’s nice size for wading ankle deep.

I’m not saying this is all easy to do and you don’t wake up one morning with this attitude for gratitude running through your mind 24-7. You have to be aware of it and make time for being thankful. In the midst of all my gratefulness this morning, the Internet connection acted up and I found myself complaining about how slow it was and how am I suupose to get anything written? Stop ,rewind… I can easily get myself to Starbucks today, which is where I am right now and use the free wi fi there.

My advise is to take time everyday and mentally list half a dozen things you are grateful for. Do it anytime during your day as long as you do it. It becomes part of your daily routine and tends to get your attention in those moments of self-pity we find our selves in when we let our minds wander to the what if. I know I’m getting more adept at catching those moments where I get all freaked out about something and find I can straighten the wheel and get off those little bumps on the highway of life that they put there to wake you up when you doze off.

If you think about it, worry and expectation create more chaos and grief in your life than if you just let go and lived with your goals always in mind and the map of how you’re going to get there at the ready. Be sure to have a great big dry erase marker on hand for those days when you have to rub out a route or two or totally clear the slate and begin again mapping out your way to the amazing life you want to live. For today, your life is amazing and tomorrow…well, tomorrow will come so don’t stress about it. You’ll be fine.

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One response to this post.

  1. Siobhan

    Your comments in your 7/17 blog are right on.

    The “fear” you refer to is indeed anxiety.

    You gave an excellent example of using your emotions as a tool.

    Here is my take on it.

    In your blog entry, you noted that your internet connection was slow.

    This is, indeed, a threat to getting out a timely blog.

    You had two basic options.

    1. You could have gotten all involved with negative what-if’s.

    Had you done this, your anxiety about the future of your current blog entry would have left you with tight nerves and doing nothing while worrying about not getting anything done because of the slow connection.

    You would have made your negative what-if a reality.

    2. Instead, you remained focused on the job at hand, used your anxiety as a motivator, thought about your options, and went to Starbucks.

    You used the energy of your anxiety about getting the blog out to examine your situation and make a choice.

    This is using your emotion as a tool.

    The emotions as tools model suggests that all emotions are messengers that provide us with information and motivate us to action.

    Choice and opportunity come when we use the message of the emotion (anxiety, fear, anger, or guilt) to make choices that move us forward, insure our survival, and improve our lives.

    Choice involves RESPONDING not reacting to our emotions.

    Lastly, I would like to comment on my previous note in which I differentiated fear from anxiety as I may not have been totally clear.

    ANXIETY is worry about the future.

    ANXIETY is a FUTURE BASED emotion involving “what-if’s” while acting as-if the what-if is a certainty.

    In other words, you imagine the worst possible outcome and react as if…

    1. that is the only possible thing that could happen

    and

    2. the disaster you anticipate will ruin you.

    While not the same for everyone, in general, ANXIETY is experienced as…

    • tightened muscles in the stomach, back or neck
    • agitation
    • sweating
    • inability to concentrate.

    FEAR, on the other hand, is a PRESENT TIME, survival based, emotion.

    FEAR is experienced as…

    • the hair on the back of your neck standing up

    FEAR is what you could experience when …

    • You go to enter an elevator and a man is standing there who looks respectable but your body is telling you may represent danger.

    • You are alone in a parking structure at night and you hear footsteps behind you.

    (Some people might override and ignore the feeling because they cannot observe any danger in the situation. This is why fear needs to be recognized as a separate emotion.)

    I differentiate FEAR from ANXIETY so that people can..

    1. know the difference between the two
    2. validate both feelings
    3. choose the best response in each case based on the specific feeling.
    4. ACT on the fear and NOT question it if survival is at risk
    5. QUESTION the anxiety, ALWAYS, rather than give into it and choose the best response in each situation.

    I understand that people say “I am afraid of the future.”

    This is how we language anxiety. I teach people to be clear about what they feel as it gives them more options.

    As long as they know the difference between fear and anxiety, and respond accordingly, how they say it is less of an issue.

    Clearly, you are using your emotions as tools. Keep up the good work.

    Ed Daube, Ph.D
    The Emotions Doctor
    drdaube@emotionsastools.com

    Reply

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