“The only thing we really have to fear is FEAR itself.” FDR in his Inauguration speech
I want to talk about the most insidious fear there is. – Fear of the Unknown
It was when I was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer. Even though I knew from the statistics that this type of cancer was not fatal. Still the word “cancer” was so powerful, it had a gripping effect on me. Then so many well-meaning people would tell me from “other” people’s experiences and none of it was very helpful.
I went from one emotional rollercoaster to another. One moment I was fine the next I was certain my days on this earth were numbered. I went through such mental agony I never experienced in my life.
Physically it was quite manageable. But my mind was playing games with me — I cannot put that experience in words –. What could I do? Spend my life with this dark cloud of fear hanging over me and let it kill me before any cancer could kill me? How could I get rid of it? Feeling this strong fear had really no basis. My intellect knew that. I read and researched all I could find.
Then finally one day I decided to grab “this fear” by the neck so to speak and deal with it once and for all.
This was the process of my thoughts–
First– I was in charge now
Second– If really the worst should happen such as an early death, my children would be fine with their Father
Third– Yes it would be excruciatingly painful for our Family, but I would use the time to love everyone with all my heart and create as many wonderful memories as I could.
Once I accepted the worst case scenario instead of resisting it–I was free of that fear. The cloud simply disappeared. The best part of finally being free from fear, I was free to truly live and create this great memories. This was many years ago and after I dealt with it– I finally learned how to truly live! Looking back, one of the worst experiences one could have turned into an important life lesson. — “How to live — truly live each day!” This experience gave me a different perspective on everything.
One day during this period, I had one really funny experience. As I was driving in my car along Tamiami Trail in Miami, I passed a graveyard located on the right. I had passed this area many times and barely noticed it. But now as I was driving, I started to think maybe I should start looking for a burial site for myself. None of our family’s relatives are buried in Miami.
As I started to seriously think about going through this process–just like looking for another apartment–I started to laugh out loud. This had become really comical. Always wanting to be in control and prepare for everything. I let that idea pass and after 30+ years I am still alive! It taught me how important it is to have control of our minds, thoughts and emotions. This taught me how to let go of these irrational fears and become free.
Fear can overwhelm us at any time – most of the time it is irrational. I don’t know why and where it comes from. But I know now how to deal with it and not let it paralyze me. It is like a dark cloud which eventually passes–but only if I don’t allow to get trapped in it. I had moments when I psychologically felt like I am about to jump off a cliff–it was sheer terror–and there was no reason to be afraid of– a rational reason anyway.
Just the fear of making a mistake; the wrong decision! This is so debilitating that we come to the point that even ordinary life becomes unbearable.–Fear that something might happen to our kids. This makes it even worse because we don’t know what we are dealing with!
The interesting thing is that when something really did happen, I had no fear because I had no idea what was going to happen.
So where is this FEAR coming from? I can only explain in my case that it is an attack on our mind and then we need to associate or explain it with something that “could happen, because it has happened somewhere to somebody” and before we know it we get trapped in that dark cloud. We then come up with the many “what ifs”. And for most of us they are almost always negative. Before I know it, that’s all that comes to mind. But what if I intentionally stop to think of the positive “What ifs” I must admit that takes real effort. I don’t seem to naturally attract positive “What If” images.
When we watch the news–I keep that to a minimum–it is important to not take on all the problems of the world and keep clear mental boundaries of what we need to know. Today with instant communication throughout the world 24/7 — it is no wonder that our society is getting more and more anxious and stressed.
How can we protect ourselves and keep from getting overwhelmed?
The answer is to stay present and simply focus on what is happening right now within my immediate environment.–Ask the question “ What are my responsibilities?” and do our best to fulfill them. I know I have the tendency to take on too much and try to solve problems that are not even mine.
Too many times in the past I let all that information overwhelm and exhaust me.–To the point there was no energy or time left to take care of what I needed to take care of.
The best advice I ever read about getting rid of fear in dealing with people is from the Bible —
“Perfect Love (unconditional) drives out Fear”. Every time I remember that verse and apply it – it works. If I am less concerned with what others think of me or that I might say the wrong thing and so on– but I truly care about the other– the fear I might feel disappears. Whatever belief one might have — the fact is–it works!
So let’s ask ourselves – what would I do if I had no fear? Chances are we’ll surprise ourselves as to what opportunities we encounter–resources we find within ourselves we never knew we had.