Fear is a very tantalizing thing. We often carry this extra baggage of worries with us without every really stopping to think why we had them to begin with. Although it can be luring to try and be positive all the time, there’s a benefit to be had in spelling out your fears by name and recognizing what could be holding you back.
To do this, grab a notebook and pen and go find a quiet place to sit. Don’t bring your cellphone with you, it’ll only distract you. Spend some time to really thinking about your biggest fears in life, and thoroughly write out your thoughts.
I strongly advocate doing this for two main reasons:
1) Isolate the main points – as I went about writing the things that scared me the most, various ideas crossed my mind, but I was able to isolate the core points. The benefit in doing this is you realize the petty nature of so many things you often let become a part of your life. Will I get a good grade on this test? Will my boss turn down my request for a raise? Will I get rejected by this person if I ask them out? Who cares! in 5 years I won’t even be thinking about it, so why let it matter now?
2) Flip the tough ones upside-down – after isolating your biggest fears, writing them out, and analyzing why you have them, you begin to recognize the sillyness and falacies that they often hold, too. In the process, you becomes more observiant to things that would normally hinder you at big decision points in life, and instead flip those paradigms to propel you forward with your new perspective.
I can’t express enough the gratitude I felt after doing this exercise, and the confidence I felt walking away from having done so. You begin to isolate the important measures of why you do things, and avoid the sleeping walking through life with your daily habits and routines. I’ve already began to notice realignments with my focus and thought process with how I approach problems. I strongly encourage you to do so, too. We need to develop social practices of being more open with the struggles and problems that we face.
Social media often provides distorted views of happy smiling people all the time, that we can become numb to the fact that we all share problems. We need to be real with ourselves and those around us, so that we may lift ourselves up to higher grounds. I wrote out my self analysis below to serve as an example.
-Being alone. Why? Desire for the feeling of acceptance and the feeling of being loved. Having no one else to go to but myself. Desire of being wanted. Desire for sex. Desire for companionships.
-Being unsuccessful. Why? I like having nice things and being able to take fun trips. Want to feel proud and have a sense of accomplishment. It’ll help attract a more ideal partner. Desire to be respected and admired.
-Losing family or friends. Why? Don’t want those that I care about to go. Feeling of lost time I could have spent with them. Feeling of guilt I wasn’t there more.
-Being average. Why? Want to stand out. Desire to be special and unique. Someone sought after and admired.
-Living with regrets. Why? Desire for the feeling of accomplishment and achievement. Dont want my life to be wasted. Feeling of losing time.
Examining Those Fears
–Being alone. Your fear of one day being alone stems from you seeking the approval of someone else. You have the desire of being wanted, cared for, lusted after, admired, and approved by an external figure. Your feelings of not being accepted, then, represent insecurities you have of yourself. You desire the love and admiration of someone else, when what you really want first and foremost is the full commitment from you to yourself. There is nothing wrong with being in a relationship or with someone. You are a very social being and it’s part of your genetic makeup. But how can you bring love into any relationship if you cannot give it to yourself first? What you really seek is unconditional, unjudgemental love of yourself. Starting here first will provide you with the knowledge for how to love and feel as a congruent part with your surroundings, before then sharing it with someone else.
-Not being successful. Often in your eyes you equait this in materialistic terms with the accumulation of stuff. You view life as a game and want to measure your standing against everyone else. You want to see where you fit in among the stack. Success, then, in your eyes, becomes an external measure. This view is toxic and obtuse. Instead of having your focus of success on outward measures, re-channel that focus inward in how you are developing and progressing as a person. Your new measure of success then becomes your potential development of self vs your actual development of self.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with having possessions, even though you were largely taught growing up that money is bad and have troubles equating wealth as a bad thing. Simply be aware of those measures of self worth and value that they serve. Does this new fancy car or lavish vacation capture the development and succession of self? Or does my soul crave for something more. The man in the glass already knows.
-Losing friends or family. Death is an inevitable part of life. You often associate death with a final stopping point; the closing paragraph in a book. You know intrisically that this doesn’t make sense. You know that we all share the same electroncs, protons, nuetrons and building blocks of life. These atoms are constantly coming and going–inter-changing from body to body and the environment around us. All matter is in constant motion. You know full well that death isn’t a stopping point. You still feel Bubbas presence carry with the wind. You remember Jessie with each birthday as the common date you shared. Although you don’t remember meeting your Grandma, her message still lives on invariably through mom.
Your fear of others dieing, then, becomes not so much a fear of losing someone, but a selfish fear of not wanting the feeling of regret from not talking to them more and telling them how important they when you had the chance. This is easily remedied by practicing gratitude more often. You know you should call your mom more and tell your best friends that you love them to death and couldn’t imagine life without them. That your life would never have been the same without their presence. You want them all to know unequivably how much they’ve touched your life in so many ways, but are scared of coming off as seeming needy or an emotional drunk. Your fear becomes ego centered with the fear of making yourself volunerable. This is something you know you need to work on.
-Not being special. Your fear of being average, much like your fear of being unsuccessful, stems from wanting to create a justifiable measure to evaluate self worth. You desire to stand out from the masses as someone who is special and unique. Someone who is talented and worth being sought after and desired. Really, where the problem of your focus lies is assuming there is some sort of average person or average life to make yourself stand out against.
You attempt to group people into different sectors. This can be done in various ways, including by not limited to: occupation, wealth, and social-standing. Instead of trying to distinguish yourself as someone who is unique and special, re-shift your focus and begin recognizing the uniqueness and individuality of all the people you come across in life. Simply stated, there is no common or average life! Everyone you come across from the doorman to the CEO has a different story to tell and a unique perspective. Not only will this allow you to see the most in others, but it will translate into recognizing the marvelous traits you possess as well.
-Fear of regret. In essence, your fear of regret sums up most of your fears. This can be regret of not working harder in your career, not dating enough to meet an ideal partner, not spending more time with your loved ones, and not distinguishing yourself as someone unique. You’re scared of regret because you know your potential. You fear that a day might come sometime later in life where you will look back and wonder where did things go wrong. Why didn’t I try harder? Why did I waste all those free hours? This leads from a false reality that there will come a point later in life where it is too late to change. That at some point you lose control when you can no longer turn the leaf on a page, and try try again.
A regret is a waste of a thought process. All the decisions in your life have brought you to this waking moment. This very second of where you are at now. Thinking back and reflecting on all the twists, uncertainties, and turning points in life, you can’t help but feel a satisfying sense of gratitude of the events that have unfolded, and excitment for the next chapters to be written. There were many points in your life that you felt at the time should be classify as ‘bad’ or ‘unwanted’ things you didn’t want to happen, when they turned out to be blessings in disguise–it’s all about perspective. So what is your perspective? Time spent regretting is time spent wasted.
Armed with that knowledge, you march helm forward into the face of your fears. I do not fear you. I do not fear you any longer.