Fear: Time to Tell the Truth – Ending Fear

The first time (many years ago) when I attempted suicide, I knew then without a doubt, removing the Fear of Death from my life was the most freeing and transcending experience I could ever expect.  (I implore you though, do not consider an attempt just to see if it is true!)

Gladly, because I wasn’t successful in my goal (and the final three that followed, again many years ago), I am able to re-discover and experienc the greatest joys we always read and hear about when it comes to enjoying life to the max.  Sadly, while I assume not too many people get this – but, I’ve come to realize that humankind is fooling itself when it comes to fear.

We THINK we KNOW, and we tell others about what we think we know, and that is based on misinformation and double-talk passed down from a time when we didn’t know.  Actually, those who do know about fear make lots and lots of money from that knowledge.

Here are some of the ways I noticed Fear used against us everywhere and we accept it’s use against us:

  • Business – to sell to us

  • Organized Religion – to save us

  • Government – to protect us

  • Media – to inform us

  • Family – to train us

  • Social Oganizations – to delude us

  • Entertainment – to titillate us

  • Money Markets – to free us

  • Medicine – to study us

  • Politics – to confuse us (haha!)

  • Big Pharma – to medicate us

  • Education – to prepare us

** I’ll explain in further detail in future posts on Fear.

Since having this awareness about Fear, this is not to say that life has been one of leisure and comfort; rather, I’ve never worked so hard in my life to suck everything out of my experiences and to fully appreciate how life is lived – in all it’s beauty AND ugliness.

And this is not to say that I have my life all together and face every situation without concerns as I walk about as a beacon of inspiration.  On the contrary.  I am human, so I have ‘things I am working on’ all the time.  I have natural reactions, and anger, and pain, and …

So, from my vast experiences, wide and varied education, and with hundreds of interactions with people since, I feel I can confidently assert that:

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Fear is the Greatest Abuse
we inflict upon ourselves and others.

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We are in it every day, we see it every day, and it is used against us every day.

We run away from it, we fear it, and we breathe every moment hoping we are prepared against some kind of impending disaster (insurance?).

When I really opened my mind to this and saw the ugliness of the world, I became disempowered and unwilling to play the Fear Game.  I couldn’t come to terms with the morass inflicted upon us by using Fear as a weapon against the masses.  But sometime within the last few years (maybe when I turned 50, and not an “aberrationed” experience), I began to see and experience first-hand why the world needs compassion and understanding.  I now share in genuine moments of true relationship – and not always comfortable for us. But each of us know at least the relationship is real.  And our love grows.

______  .  ______

As I study and learn more about Fear, I am able to understand that I can rid myself of Fear and live a life that is more wonderful and adventurous and fun than ever before imagined or dared..

Now, even when things appear to seem hopeless and desolate, I live more in Freedom than ever before.  The Freedom comes in the understanding that Fear is the controlling force – and in that understanding, I let go of the Fear.

It isn’t always easy – after all, even science tells us that any force against nature has an equal and opposite force,  Therefore, if I’m up to good things that are taking me out of my ‘nature’ and pushing the limits of possibility, then I have to be prepared to expect nature to push back with the same force of opposition (economy, politics, family, social standing, finances, etc).

______  .  ______

To summarize from the last post on Fear and how it happens to us:

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  1. We take in the information, then

  2. We INSTANTLY warn ourself from being startled by automatically and normally setting off phyical reactions like adrenalin (as in all animals), then

  3. Believing that feeling, we INSTANTLY search our memory for past feelings, then

  4. Believing that memory, we INSTANTLY give the feeling meaning, then

  5. Believing that meaning, we take action based on the meaning that we automatically EXPECT to remove the problem.

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**  It doesn’t have to be this way.  **

We can eliminate all the problems and avoid the distress.
Read on …

______  .  ______

*** A strong reminder: these are only my observations – they are not the Truth.  I will add though, the insights I’ve shared are common in most societal institution in every culture.

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The Big Secrets About Fear
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  • Fear is only a feeling

  • There is a difference on whether we see or imagine the source of Fear > FEAR IS TIME-BASED

  • The feeling we get when we label it Fear is the EXACT SAME FEELING WE GET WHEN WE ARE EXCITED.  Yes, Fear feels the same as excitement.

  • Fear is the label we give the feeling

  • – we have 4 distinct opportunities to feel Fear and still not be afraid

  • – How we react when faced with a fear is only a “conditioned response

______  .  ______

The Four Opportunities to Eliminate Fear

>> Keep in mind that the focus of this discussion is on our PERCEPTIONS of threats (imagined) and not REAL threats that affect our lives or of those we love.

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The first thing that happens when we are caught off guard (to start the process):

1 – We Warn Ourselves

  • The adrenalin rush we feel is only a natural biological effect

  • The feeling happens no matter what – we cannot control it

  • The feeling has the same purpose and is common in all life

       DOWNSIDE:

  • It is too easy to automatically think the worst about the feeling

       UPSIDE:

  • The chaotic jungle of life on this planet gives us a great internal warning system for real reasons to be fearful

1st OPPORTUNITY TO ELIMINATE FEAR:

We can CHOOSE not to JUMP TO THE FIRST CONCLUSION

  • WE CAN consciously acknowledge the feeling of the adrenalin and logically understand it can be a misread feeling

  • Opens up the mind to further inquiry of the “real” threat that scares us > more possibilities for understanding

Here is a personal example from my life that can illustrate my assertion:

When I was playing piano as a young boy, I was always encouraged to play well.  My piano teacher taught me to learn and express my talents through my inherent love of music (which I still hold today).  My father taught me to learn through the fear of losing the music because “it costs a lot of money to put you through this!” 

I can remember feeling scared and nervous before a recital (I used to play recitals at places like the old Eaton store in downtown Toronto for old rich people).  My teacher helped me quickly overcome fear of performing in public after a couple of performances.

This is what happened:

After I shared with my teacher how I was feeling (the adrenalin, hands sweaty, pacing, breathing), she told me I was wrong about my feeling.  Here it comes, I thought, now I am REALLY going to feel bad.

What she said to me was this:

“Kevin, for whatever reason you think you are nervous, it is not true.  The real reason you feel this way is because you are EXCITED about performing.  You know your stuff.  The feelings you get before you perform are EXACTLY THE SAME as Fear – and you know you are scared.  So it’s got to be excitement.”

After about three times of being reminded, I have never, ever been nervous about performing in front of people.  I’ve performed in theatre, TV, movies, music, training, and public speaking, and I’ve always excelled in this area of life.  And when I see an opportunity to perform something, I GET EXCITED!

______  .  ______

The next thing that happens after we get the physical sensation caused by some unexpected event (whether real or perceived):

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2 – We Search Our Memory for a Similar Event

       DOWNSIDE:

  • We are limited to our memories of events AS THEY HAPPENED AT THE TIME

  • We remember details as if we were still that age

  • The more trauma to our psyche > the more embedded in our memories

  • Our memory changes because of later events, more knowledge, health, etc.

Our memories are selective > it will search ANYTHING to match the feeling (depending on the current event when we get the feeling of the adrenalin rush).

        WORST DOWNSIDE:

  • once the feeling is felt, our memory USUALLY STARTS AT THE WORST explanation and works it’s way down

  • we are conditioned by civilization to start with BAD memories because we all live in Fear

 

2nd OPPORTUNITY TO ELIMINATE FEAR:

We can CHOOSE not to JUMP TO THE FIRST MEMORY that comes to our mind.

  • We know the memory is untrustworthy because the memory is an automatic  random event from our brain.

Here is another example from my life:

When I approach an older man who reminds me of my late father (ie. Size, looks, sound, walk, or smell > I know that he is not my father, he just appears to me like the memory of my father.

Those memories of my father go back to the brutal childhood I endured.  There was much physical, psychological, and emotional abuse from him.  There was absenteeism, unexplained punishment, and never, ever a conversation with him in my first 17 years knowing him.

I learned over time that I didn’t have to fear male authority figures solely based on a memory.  Close to twenty years later when I saw him again, I grew to understand how memory taints our feelings.  By then, I came to understand that he wasn’t as big as I remembered; he was really just a broken man and bully; and he only did what he did out of his own fears.

This didn’t forgive his treatment of his eight children; but it did help me come to terms with my unfounded fears of older male authority figures.  I learned to change my behaviour because I knew I didn’t have to experience being with them and living from a misplaced feeling that I had to cower in secret fear and try to impress in order to achieve my/our goals.

______  .  ______

After the feeling and memory has arrived, then:

3 – We Tell Ourselves What the Feeling and Memory (together) Means to us.

It has been dissected and discussed over eons humankind’s eternal and most individual personal search (whether we acknowledge it or not).  That inquiry is about our search for meaning.  It is THE crucial element in civilization because it helps us all to connect with one another by creating a common understanding.

This happened because … or she’s like that because … or this symbol binds us because … 

DOWNSIDE:

  • Since our initial and natural reaction to an unexpected event is to protect ourselves, we tend to automatically think the meaning of the feeling represents doom.

UPSIDE:

  • By giving things/events/behaviours meaning, it gives us reasons for why things happen and can create safety for us (from such things as possible real physical danger).

 

3rd OPPORTUNITY TO ELIMINATE FEAR:

We can CHOOSE not to JUMP TO THE FIRST MEANING we automatically attach to the memory

  • we know the meaning is untrustworthy because the mind will attach anything that sticks

Another (boring?) example of how this can work:

I am involved in a lot of projects and I always have from my earliest memories as a boy.  I love them because they satisfy my need for constant change and variety, and I completely hate being on a clock and having a J.O.B. (Just Over Broke).

As I got older, my ability to achieve some of my goals was becoming more difficult.  I was becoming frustrated because things weren’t just getting done and I couldn’t depend on people.

The first thing I did was start going back through my memory to all my FAILED projects and started making checklists in my mind.  It wasn’t long before I found enough reasons to make myself feel bad.  Soon, I became fearful of sharing my ideas with others because I began doubting my skills and abilities.  That invoked my deep-seated fear of looking stupid.

One day, I decided to make a paper checklist of my ideas and projects (for a different project I’m working on right now).  Wow!  When I started to acknowledge the achievements I accomplished, I began to see patterns (as well as to feel better in knowing I wasn’t stupid after all, lol).

When I discovered I was selecting partners to work with me, I was choosing people who easily bought into the idea or were looking to impress me with their interest.  Not a good reason to select a working partner.

Since then, I realize that I don’t have to misjudge my ideas or the people working with me because I’ve changed my habits in the process.  Now when I embark on a new project, I may not have succeeded in the goal in the past, but that just means I learned something new to help me become better as a person.

______  .  ______

Then finally, after the brain INSTANTLY takes the event, and notices the feeling, and attaches it to a memory, and gives it a meaning, then

4 – We Take Action based on the Meaning We Gave to the Feeling

The classic theory on Fear tells us either we stay and defend or we run away called “fight or flight”.  This is typical whether the feeling of the Fear is real or perceived.  It is a conditioned reaction we are taught and affects every one of us (as animals).

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4th OPPORTUNITY TO ELIMINATE FEAR:

We can CHOOSE not to REACT TO THE FIRST MEANING we automatically attach to the memory

  • we know everything has been untrustworthy so far, so a ‘second thought’ is required

When the Fear is real, such as someone is driving at us, the action is very apparent.  The person either jumps out of the way immediately or decides to take action head on.

When the fear is perceived, such as a Fear of Failure, it may not be so obvious.

An example of perceived fear such as above, the person may choose to never take courses to get promoted in the company.  If a person has a Fear of being Late (which would go deeper than that with further inquiry), they may act out by screaming aggressively at someone who slows them down or gets in their way.  Other examples of ways people react out of fear may appear as:

  • crying every time the person fears the other is leaving, or

  • physical fighting to avoid the fear of feeling embarrassed by another person, or

  • giving false compliments to overcome the fear of not being liked, or

  • becoming well-read to avoid the fear of looking stupid, and on and on …

The person may get stressed out at people just being themselves.  Someone standing on the escalator as they ride or someone fumbling around for change may be perceived as an enemy and then anybody in your way (which ends up being everybody) catches your derision.  The actions out of fear show up in many, many ways.

______  .  ______

To Recap …

In a nutshell to bring this conversation to close for today, here are the main points I’ve brought forward:

  1. Fear is not real

  2. Fear can be changed

  3. Fear is based on past memories

  4. We can live without Fear

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Awareness: TOP 10 Lies We Tell Ourselves

We all know how life is – full of constant changes and challenges, responsibilities, and a faster speed of activities.  And it can be enough to drive us crazy because sometimes we just can’t keep up with it.

.Eventually, we have to choose – to choose if we are just going to throw up our arms and give in to the rats winning the race, or get whatever I can and let others find their own way, or maybe continue working towards fulfilling the urge of our personal essence even if it requires sacrifice?

For a lot of people (given the state of the world today), I think we just end up making excuses for not doing something, or continue to put it off.

Sadly, what is sacrificed first and most often is the very things that would make our life better.  You know, the secret hobbies, the book, song, or community project that you know would be a great contribution not only to yourself (through self-expression), but also to the recipients of your work.

Below is the Top Ten Lies we tell  ourselves and qualify them as legitimate reasons to continue the same old path wish and hope would change.

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10 – I am going to die someday – way off in the distant future.

Does this gives me excuses to not get started on the things I want to do?

9 – I have total control over my life; and if I don’t, I can.

“I’ve got it all handled.” Hmmmmmm.

.8 – Life is supposed to be fair.

We’re told over and over the opposite. What am I to expect?

7 – Only the strongest or smartest succeed.

Well, I’m neither … so, help me find a rock to crawl under.

6 – Money is the ultimate root of the world’s evil.

… and who wants to be evil, right?

5 – I need money to make money.

If I want to make money, does that mean I am evil?

4 – It only happens to other people.

There are a lot of messed up people out there, right?

3 – It’s someone else’s fault.

They have all the money, looks, strength, and control (and luck).  Don’t they?

2 – I am not worthy (or deserving, or I am bad, etc)

When I was 6, I …

When I was 10, I …

When I was 14, I …

When I was 19, I …

… and on, and on, and on …

……

1 – I’m OK! Really!!!

I’m just having a bad hair day.

(Ya, right!)

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How many of the above lies have You used to not be an expression of yourself?

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Values & Beliefs: How Do We Make Decisions? – pt 1

Have you ever noticed that the longer we travel along this journey called life, there are moments from our past we can now distinguish as significant turning points in the direction our path leads.

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     In hindsight, I get the sense that we can see crystal clear how such seemingly meaningless events and its ensuing decisions can significantly alter not only our focus, but also the created thoughts and meanings otherwise leading to different possible life-altering actions and results.

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Except for the time I heard the Backstreet Boys’ angelic voices when I was rushed to ICU for my heart surgery, no trumpets or violins are heard to tempt the moment, no kind of aural sign to put the instant in perspective – just a somewhat nondescript decision to do ‘this’ instead of ‘that’. Those quiet moments, without fanfare or forewarning. Yet, as we become aware of those defining moments; we etch them in our mind for future references. (This is where my “Meaning-Making Machine” takes over.)

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We generally tend not to give much thought to our many decisions we make, don’t you think? And here’s where I think we get ourselves into trouble – not always a bad trouble, but a trouble none the less.

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So, now I am faced with a lot of questions that may challenge my current value/belief system I hold so dearly and strongly to my heart. Some things I now pose is:

1.   What does this say about fate or destiny? Does it negate these?
2.   Is there anything we can do about it?
3.   Can we benefit from knowing about this?
4.   So what?

In this post, I first want to look at the “so what” because it may help me/us understand the answers to the others.

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We make thousands of decisions a day – from deciding to turn left or right at a corner to deciding whether to pee now or hold it for later. For the most part, these are small decisions that make little or no difference in our everyday efforts.

Still, these decisions are based on our priority goal of that moment.

So, sometimes subconsciously through habit of pre-defined thought and action, or trust, or because you are fulfilling your goal, we decide which way to turn on the street because you have to buy something before you can get home to pee.

Therefore, we decide to hold our bladder. You see, quite trivial and seemingly meaningless (sounds funny, huh?); yet they are based on what and how we make all of our decisions. Yes – the small ones and the BIG ONES!

If we consider that we don’t pay attention (having awareness) to own decision-making process, we can lose the power to make better and healthier decisions, and then miss out on making those decisions that further our life in a positive way.

To be continued …

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