By: Javan
October 26, 2012

Well it IS almost Halloween!

Are you aware that you make choices out of fear and worry? OK, are you aware of how many choices you make out of fear and worry?

Some choices that are based in fear and worry are about money, competition, relationships, children, being the best at whatever it is you do….the list goes on and on. You might say, “Well those aren’t bad things.” In fact, our world is based on avoiding the “bad” things of life, as if it were possible to never have “bad” things happen, if we do certain things to avoid them. Our expectations are goals and images we create in our imagination about what life looks like if you could avoid the “bad” things. This is part of the denial of our minds, since there is no way to use an expectation to keep “bad” things from happening.

I was listening to a podcast earlier in the week with Dr. Wayne Dyer.

He was addressing the struggles of a young person who had graduated and could not find work. She said to Dr. Dyer, “I did everything I was supposed to do. I’ve been a good student, volunteered, studied hard, and worked. I don’t understand why I can’t get a job.” He shared how he believes that she needed to change her perception of herself before she would be able to step out of her own way. She needed to change her paradigm. Her expectations are stuck in a box and as long as she is in the box, she would not see an alternate solution or path to her career happiness.

Her frustration is clearly understandable. She had been raised to believe that taking action would help her avoid a “bad” thing: in this case, not getting a good job.  Well, she couldn’t predict a recession. Her expectations are not matching up to reality. Clients often say, “Well, I did what I was supposed to do.  I don’t get why I have to talk about my childhood to fix my marriage?” Or, “I don’t understand why we can’t just talk about things?” Somehow, our perception of what should happen, if we have done what we believe to be enough, should somehow make our expectations become real, so we can avoid the “bad” stuff. So we stop, become stuck, and can’t understand why we are where we are……hmmmmm.

If you believe your expectations, you are believing your own myths. Your expectations need to be based in reality. The reality is we cannot and do not control much of anything. You were told as a small child not to cross the road without looking both ways for fear of getting hit! You don’t want to get hit, but there is a possibility you might get hit, so even if you look both ways, getting hit could happen. Just because you don’t expect to get hit, doesn’t mean there’s a guarantee you’ll be safe. So, why do we get stuck in fear and worry when we perceive a fear?

The fear of being judged, not included, avoided, abandoned, shamed, ridiculed, unloved, unaccepted, or worse, to not exist, are all standard human fears. Heightened anxiety and deep sadness around fear is what brings people into therapy. This is especially true for those on the verge of divorce or separation. One husband says, “I want her back. Tell me what to do.” This husband is painfully aware of his fear of being abandoned (divorced or separated from his wife) but he doesn’t know that this emotional response is about him and not about his wife. His experience is something separate from his relationship. He is making unhealthy decisions based on his perceived fear of being left alone. This is not helping his wife feel safe or loved in the relationship. Another couple is struggling with affair recovery. The affair occurred with someone he met in a common place of entertainment. His wife is now having strong feelings about the establishment and cannot fathom her husband being in the same building as the “other woman.” Her fear of abandonment, rejection, and pain are about her experiences, not about whether or not he can be trusted. Her fear will not dictate whether or not he will or will not cheat again. But her fear is real and palpable. The increased anxiety influences her ability to be rationale or logical. In this case, she has too much pain to see beyond her fears. So her husband is essentially asking his wife to move from a place that she is not ready to move from, not yet.

Good people make choices based in fear everyday. Some of those choices result in affairs, addictions, raging, shaming, emotional cut-off, and other unhealthy interactions. What do you do with your fear? How are you able to use it in a more healthy way? You could use your fear to learn more about yourself.

Ask yourself some questions:

  1. Ask yourself what it is your fearful of and why
  2. Ask yourself if it is truly as threatening as it seems
  3. Ask yourself where the fear is coming from
  4. Is this something you can change
  5. Is this fear something that will help you move forward or make changes
  6. Is this fear something that keeps you trapped in your current paradigm
  7. Why is this fear so important
  8. Does this fear interrupt my life
  9. Can I move forward even if my fear comes true
  10. Does this fear keep you focused on others instead of yourself

Recovery for moving from being a fear based decision maker takes years, but is well worth the journey. Choosing to love someone for who they are and the gift that they are in your life is much more fulfilling than being afraid of being alone. Being a parent who can accept your child for their flaws is more loving than shaming them for their shortcomings. Do you wish you were less of an anxiety or fear-based decision maker?