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Archive for the ‘fear’ Category

Fear Has it’s Place, But No Voting Rights

Stuffing Down Fear is a Recipe for Disaster

Many of us see fear as something we must stuff down in order to move forward; to get past the things which scare us silly and hold us back from achieving our dreams. But stuffing anything down is a recipe for disaster, be it fear, feelings, or those warnings our gut gives us when something really isn’t right.

After going through the volcanic disaster of decades-old stuffed-down feelings expressing their displeasure with their long confinement, I’m less inclined to stuff anything down any more. But what do you do when fear paralyzes you and prevents you from moving into your rightful place in the world? If you can’t stuff it down, what do you do with the darn thing?

Acknowledge and Release

Recently I saw someone say of fear that they acknowledge it lovingly and give it its place in the mix. https://www.flickr.com/photos/stereodee/206181019/in/photolist-jdJra-cdAbXm-5znGdU-qp7VTd-5x83Xj-pVgmw7-rRAHD-cdApym-e7ngiF-5zBimA-e79P9P-8DHFiu-5DGaXY-5ixtYe-48hz3C-aBDHNZ-Abg7M-D4n8wu-4vpgaN-da5XsU-9sgf2q-2F8ZK-6xxoan-7pHcpA-81vHwM-5zbHU8-5Bc3jx-qDrWfs-4wksAr-8PzyQq-Hg7gdq-qVWNoL-e7fRqY-pWAHGT-4rPTjk-5KbrCH-e7j1jT-5zxjDW-gHKDhQ-HiA4-nfKbKS-9sdh9U-e7iZpk-5z6NdJ-5ztWKz-e7jHdn-dG5aG4-b2LZU-3amMEE-6tZVFjHowever, when it comes to deciding how to proceed, their fear doesn’t get a vote. I rather liked the analogy, and have adopted it for my own, as well as applying it to the feelings I used to mercilessly cram into a small box deep inside my psyche.

It’s ironic that I refused to acknowledge my own, yet told my daughters over and over that their feelings were their feelings. They had no on/off switch (their father used to tell them “you shouldn’t feel like that” as if it was something they could control). What is fear really, but one of those unquenchable feelings?

Initially, fear is in place to protect us from harm. As we grow older, what constitutes harm changes. Our minds take comfort in sameness, so anything that threatens to alter our life or patterns is seen as a threat, and the fear missile is launched. Once launched, the mission can’t be aborted, but it can be redirected towards a benign target. If we catch it early enough, we might even be able to halt the launch, shut down the engines, and put the missile back into storage. It’s still in the warehouse, or maybe even on the launching pad, but for now, the countdown has been halted.

The Key to Gaining Mastery Over Our Fears is An Early Warning System

https://www.flickr.com/photos/svensson/4829867389/in/photolist-6XCAQH-WgXmBb-byu3Nn-6XCCec-F2ovRt-Gn7Ut6-7xLAFR-6XCBk8-8mNkiF-6XGAK9-p3qjVr-24BFZCb-24BG1Vb-poheFW-p8PQeo-F2orHZ-66bJw1-667u2F-F2okjr-GxKsrU-5kBreE-4tZPNF-66bL5y-667tVr-pqhycN-F2owK2-8mRw1h-24E9hKg-23jj36V-f7TE62-24BFXBY-5NnPFa-24BG3po-22t2Y6M-F2ojVR-4pHCNQ-F2osaR-23jj3vH-66bL2U-66bHY9-23AG54S-5dGrPJ-64i5Dg-4zorW-24BFZ1u-4MCNfE-6i2AXJ-5kBpHY-3rLwcC-3rFJXKIt is a matter of both practice and awareness to keep our fears in their rightful place. Shutting them down, stuffing them into a box, or inuring ourselves to their effects is never the right choice. There is a time and a place for those fears to launch; to send out the flares, the red flags, the sirens, and the flashing lights. There are times in our lives when we will be in real danger, unless of course we wrap ourselves in bubble wrap and find a cave to live in. In that case, we’re not really living, so if you ask me, why bother? Life is interesting with a little danger in it. For some who thrive on adrenaline rushes, the amount of danger required can be significantly higher. They’ve clearly mastered their fears better than most.

We all have different levels of fear tolerance. Some of us might be fine with jumping out of a plane, but changing jobs sends us into a panic attack. Others might find moving from one country to another exciting and exhilarating, but the idea of dating puts them in a cold sweat. We are all different and unique, and as such, our fear tolerance isn’t a single level, but situational.

Even so, our evolution as a Human Being (emphasis on the “Being”) depends on gaining mastery over our fears so we can grow and progress.

Fear and Our Comfort Zone

Someone recently said to me “fear is what gets us out of our comfort zone”. I disagree. I believe fear is what keeps us there. It’s our mind telling us: “You don’t want to go out there. There might be goblins, or wolves, or other scary things. Stay in here with me where it’s safe and warm, and you know who’s in here with you.” If you ask me, being stuck in a box with a scaredy-cat is far more frightening than braving the unknown. But I can only speak for myself. I’m also not going to go jump out of a perfectly good plane, but I have friends who do and love it. I suspect I’ve taken risks they’d never even consider.

Still, we ignore fear to our own detriment. There are going to be times when it saves our bacon, even while there are many more when it would hold us back if we let it. Which is why I like the idea of acknowledging it while denying it a say in the decisions we ultimately make about ourselves and our lives.

It’s a lot like a brainstorming session you might have at work. A lot of ideas are thrown out on the table. Some will clearly be unworkable. Others will seem unlikely, but not worth casting away without further discussion, and some will be divvied up right away for further evaluation. I see fear as part of the second group. They may be unlikely, but are worth considering as there may be some merit, if only to remind us to proceed cautiously with eyes and ears wide open for possible pitfalls on a route chosen for innovation and new horizons.

Finding the Right Mix

When we temper fear with our desire for change, we get a healthier version which is caution. A mountain climber uses this refinement when she tests a new hand- or foot-hold before putting weight on it. We back up our computers and save our files somewhere that’s more protected from crashes because of that caution. Still, we don’t allow it to determine our next move. It’s simply built into our process to protect the progress we’ve made so far.

The caution exercised as a result of our fears makes recovery from failure quicker because the damage is minimized. Think how much longer it would take to implement changes if we were back to square one every time we failed. If you ask me, we have our fears to thank for the shorter, less painful falls.

Think of it this way. The parachute would never have been invented had we expected planes (especially the early ones) to remain in the air and land safely 100% of the time.

 

For more on Fear, check out my Facebook Live

Gratitude; Our Strongest Ally

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful I’m coming to terms with my fears without letting them freeze me in place.
  2. I am grateful for the people who help me overcome my fears and continue moving forward.
  3. I am grateful for opportunities to test and release my fears.
  4. I am grateful for the new horizons that have opened up since I stopped allowing my fears to vote.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, life, freedom, opportunities, mentors, coaches, friends, encouragement, lessons, joy, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love, and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward.

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Why We Fear Success

Our Hard-wired Brains

The mind is a very delicate piece of machinery. The slightest alteration in frequency can throw some of us into a tizzy of anxiety-related symptoms; quivery stomach, a tight band around our skull, the urge to run away and hide under our covers. Regardless of our personal reactions, the result, if we heed it, can be the same: permanent residence in the comfort zone.

For some people, that’s all well and fine, but staying in the comfort zone is staying in one place, never evolving, never learning, never becoming what we were meant to be. And all because our brains are resistant to change.

We Fear Success Specifically

Success can be an especially frightening challenge for our poor, change-resistant brains because achieving success, whether it’s by improving our health habits, advancing our career, or initiating world peace comes only by taking giant leaps out of our comfort zone. None of this dipping our toe in the water and leaping back if it’s even a degree too cold. To be successful, we must step out of our comfort zone not once, but over and over again. The closer we get to succeeding, the further we venture from our comfort zone. In fact, people who enjoy the most success in their lives have, at some point, left their comfort zone far behind. It only serves to put limits on what can be achieved.

Those initial steps outside the familiar, the safe are the scariest of all. Not only are we leaving behind what we know works for us, but in doing so, we’re creating whole new paths. Even more, we’re creating whole new techniques! In short, we’re leaving our minds nothing familiar to grab onto when the roller coaster ride begins. While our hearts are shouting Hooeee! What a ride! More! More! our minds our scrunching themselves into a tight ball of pure terror, shrieking Make it stop! Oh, please, make it stop!

But our minds are much stronger than they realize. Over time, they’ve adapted to all the changes inherent in simply growing from infancy to adulthood. They don’t always like where we take them, or even the road conditions, but eventually, they rise to the occasion and support our new endeavors.

Overcoming the Fear Mentality

There are many ways to overcome our innate fears. Some favor the “all in” approach which is much like taking a flying leap into a pool, determined to get used to the water or else. It’s fast and effective, though sometimes overly traumatic.

Others favor the toe-dipping approach you see people use when venturing into the ocean at the beginning of the summer. They take a step forward, ready to leap back if the water is too cold. If it’s cold but bearable, they may venture in up to the ankles, and so on until they’re fully immersed. This process can take forever, or not happen at all depending on how much discomfort the person and their brain can handle.

What I’ve found most effective (though Type A’s will surely disagree) is a combination of the two. First, I tell myself what I’m going to experience will be entertaining and perhaps educational. I tune out any arguments, making it clear I’m in charge. Then I take a step forward. I may take one more, but most important here is to change my set point.

Raising the Bar

Changing our set point, be it mentally, physically, or emotionally is essentially a re-set of our goals. We congratulate ourselves on the progress we’ve made, and set another challenging but achievable goal. Using weight loss as an example, our bodies become used to being at a certain weight, healthy or not. In order to make a permanent change, we have to see ourselves weighing less. Not all the way to our goal, especially those of us who have more than 5 or 10 pounds to lose! That’s a sure path to discouragement, not to mention gaining back what we’ve lost.

I set my own goals in 10 pound increments, but allow 5 pound mini goals too. A week or so ago, my scale showed a rather unlikely drop, but seemed to stay consistent no matter how many times I got on and off of it. Instead of being excited about getting closer to my goal, I panicked. In that panic, I ended up erasing the progress I’d made since I’d reached my latest 10 pound goal; not by much, but enough to make me see what had happened.

My brain had taken over. It whispered How are you going to handle being thinner? Won’t all the attention you’d get be scary? Instead of ignoring that fearful voice, I succumbed, eating badly and not moving enough for a few days. (I eventually discovered a small, star-shaped piece of wax had found its way beneath the scale, causing it to register incorrectly, but by then, the damage was done). I started turning things around a bit yesterday, and today, while writing my morning pages, I saw it for what it was. Fear. Plain and simple. My brain was reacting to the positive feedback I’d been receiving. It didn’t like the fact that I was putting on makeup and fixing my hair to do Facebook Lives. Too many things were changing and it was being forced to swim as the waters deepened.

Growing Stronger With Every Leap

Just as the body grows stronger when we push it to do more, the brain does too. When we refuse to succumb to the voice of fear, it becomes easier to do things we’d never done before. The idea of adventure far outweighs the fear of failure, or more importantly, success. I don’t think the brain really fears failure in the overall scheme of things anyway. Failure means it gets to maintain the status quo. Success is a much bigger threat, at least until we re-train our brains to see the wonder and beauty those successes bring into our lives.

I won’t say it’s something we ever get away from. There will always be times our brain wants to retreat. The key is recognizing when it’s happening and pushing forward anyway. Moving our set points further out. Challenging ourselves to fight for the dream, even when the one we’re fighting is ourselves.

Here’s to Your Continued Success

I hope if you’re struggling that you’ll seek out that frightened child within yourself. Take charge of your life instead of letting fear of change keep you from achieving your dreams. Overall, change is what makes life interesting. Whether we like it or not everything around us is changing all the time anyway. So why not become part of the changing landscape?

Gratitude: A Powerful Motivator

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the epiphanies which help me overcome roadblocks of self-doubt.
  2. I am grateful for the people who are constantly moving in and out of my life to teach me about myself and the world around me.
  3. I am grateful for endless possibilities.
  4. I am grateful four the strength and courage I’m developing as I overcome each new obstacle to my success.
  5. I am grateful for abundance: success, joy, love, friendship, adventure, possibilities, inspiration, motivation, creativity, courage, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

 

Photo courtesy of Affen Ajlfe

Fear: A Mountain or a Mole Hill?

To Write or Not to Write: Is There Really a Question?

Lately, I’ve found it difficult to convince myself to sit down and write. It doesn’t matter whether it’s one of the 3 articles about the events I’ve attended in the last week, a blog post or one of my many literary projects, I’ve been finding any and every excuse to do anything but write. Knowing it’s simply a matter of discipline doesn’t help. It’s as if I’m suddenly afraid of putting fingers to keyboard for any creative endeavor.

This morning, I took my recalcitrant self in hand and vowed to break the pattern, and hopefully, break it permanently. I found myself looking in the mirror as I put in my contacts, asking What is it you really fear? I nearly fell into the litter box when the answer came back immediately. The only thing you fear is yourself.

Really? I fear meek and mild little me? Is that all? Surely it has to be something larger-than-life which throws me back into old, tired patterns at the slightest provocation. So I asked again. What is it you really fear? The voice came back again, sounding a touch annoyed. The only thing you truly fear is your idiot self! Now go do something about it instead of asking stupid questions!

F.E.A.R. Face Everything and Rise

My inner voice sure has an attitude. But maybe that’s the point. If I want to get past my blocks, both writing and otherwise, I need to take a page out of my inner voice’s book and stop taking crap from myself. In a recent weight loss challenge I’ve been participating in, there’s a particular quote which resonates with me: “No shame, no blame, no guilt.” I could add to that, “and no excuses”.

What I’m getting from this is I have a deeply ingrained fear of putting myself out there, whether it’s socially, in print or anything else. That fear has prevented my success on any number of levels. Just as I’ve built several layers of protective insulation around my body and spend a good deal of time tucked away in my house, I’ve held back on sharing my writing. I’ve gotten too good at starting things and not finishing, procrastinating, or just, plain avoiding.

But recognizing the problem is half the battle. I’ve beaten the one which had me sleeping away the day and not rising until 10 or 11. In fact, even the last couple of nights when I was up past 2 AM, my body still woke at about 8 or 8:30 singing Rise and shine! There are things to be done and stories to be written! I crossed the first hurdle; getting up. Now, this is me, leaping the harder, higher one; writing those stories.

A Lesson in Every Sentence

In the months and years I’ve had the luxury of writing as many hours a day as I like, I have, indeed, typed many a word. I’ve also learned some valuable lessons, the most important of which is to just get the words down and edit afterwards. I used to very diligently insert the HTML code into every paragraph as I typed, but discovered it not only slowed me down, but arrested the flow of thoughts clamoring to reach the page. Now, I just type away, letting the thoughts hit the page in whatever scrambled and only partially sane fashion they might wish. There’s plenty of time afterwards to review what I’ve written and put it into what, for me, is a semblance of sense.

I just heaved a huge sigh of relief, much like the one you let out when you reach the end of a bout of constipation. In my case, my brain was feeling very stuffed, very congested for lack of word flow. Other writers may understand how the mind fills with things to be said and unless those thoughts are released in the only way we know how, writing them down, they’ll just back up the works until the brain shuts down. I was perilously close to complete shut-down when I awoke this morning.

Creatively Mind Dumping

Blogging, I’ve found, is the simplest means for releasing my dammed up words. I don’t have a particular story I’m trying to tell or facts I need to include. It is simply the thoughts and lessons I experience daily. Maybe it’s also those thoughts and lessons which need to come out on the regular basis I used to follow, but have fallen away from lately. In a lot of ways, this is the brain dump I used to use when I couldn’t sleep for the thoughts, plans, lists and frustrations flying around in my head. I have, in fact, been denying myself my own personal mode of therapy, and it’s taken it’s toll.

Putting these words on the page feels very cathartic but the proof is in the pudding. I still have those articles to write, books to edit and complete and more to come. The event schedule I share with my photographer friend is continuing to fill up which means more articles to write. She gives me 2 weeks, but I keep saying that’s too long. Yet I still procrastinate about writing them. My goal is to finish all 3 articles no later than Sunday, but sooner would be better.

I have one last task to complete which will ensure my compliance, and that is to build another healthy salad so meal prep is minimal mid-day. It’s on the agenda for this afternoon, after I return from Physical Therapy (which may not go on much longer as I’ve suddenly taken a huge turn, gaining strength almost daily and leaving most of the pain behind).

As I spend more time out in the real world, I have more material with which to regale and challenge my readers. Hiding out in my hovel with my cats is all well and fine, satisfying my inner hermit, but there’s nothing like a little human contact to augment the material I write about; even if it’s just my own inept efforts to interact like a normal person.

Keeping the Gratitude Flowing

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful that the word famine has ended.
2. I am grateful for the realization that my fears are so easily managed.
3. I am grateful for support groups and people who face much greater challenges than me.
4. I am grateful for the creativity which lies inside me if I just get out of my own way.
5. I am grateful for abundance: creativity, support, inspiration, motivation, commitment, joy, love, health, peace, harmoney, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

September 24, 2014 I may be a strong, independent woman, but with some things, I’m a big wuss!

The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah!

Looking back at some of the silly songs we sang as children, I can’t believe I didn’t have more nightmares! The mere thought of ants marching across the room makes me feel like they’re crawling all over my body! And if said ants happen to be fire ants…

I recently discovered that the little red darlings had invaded the room where I was feeding the kittens. After hastily clearing out all food and vacuuming the room thoroughly, I entered once more to put a grits-laced bowl of cat food down before rushing out and spraying the doorway with peppermint oil diluted in water. I have not entered the room since. In fact, I had my adopted son check the food bowl and ant trail for me while I stood outside the door, cringing and twitching like I was being crawled on. It was only in the last few days that I didn’t have that eerie sensation of things biting me from ankle to neck. As no suspicious welts appeared, I guess I’m safe…for now.

At some point, I need to re-enter the room and see if the solution I found on the internet for a pet friendly elimination of the pests was effective. But wimp that I am, I have yet to breach the doorway, and the longer I wait, the larger those ants loom until, if I don’t face it down soon, I will have myself convinced that the ants have created a giant, Transformer of an ant out of millions of their tiny bodies!

Now, I am not usually prone to squeamishness. I am comfortable with snakes, lizards and various members of the rodent family. But when faced with something equipped with more than four legs, that can wiggle and crawl into very tiny places, I become a wriggling mass of jello. I don’t know why bugs bug me this way. I certainly wasn’t very frightened as a child. (which was a good thing as my cat, Snowy, loved to bring me presents in the middle of the night. As the screen kept falling off of my bedroom window and we slept with it open in the summer, she murdered all manner of crawly things on the foot of my bed, with little more than an “Ewww, Gross!” from me.) I am embarrassed to admit that I am that girl who would like to have a big, strong man to kill the bugs for me!

Sadly, the only man who’s been around here with any regularity is my son-in-law who is more afraid of spiders and such than me!

Sometime in the next couple of days, I really need to don my battle gear and check the results of the grits method of ant disposal to see if it was effective. I only hope that it was so I don’t spend another couple of weeks, certain that I have been attacked by a herd of teeny, tiny fire ants, bent on leaving little pockets of their poison all over my unprotected body! This, my friends, is the stuff from which nightmares are made! I feel a horror story coming on! I only hope I don’t scare myself too much in the writing!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for all of my qualities, even the embarrassing ones.
2. I am grateful that my imagination runs away from me, even when I scare the crap out of myself.
3. I am grateful for a very productive week.
4. I am grateful for new opportunities and ideas.
5. I am grateful for abundance: humor, imagination, love, joy, dancing, wisdom, harmony, peace and prosperity.

Namaste

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