Welcome to my Blog

Monday, October 31, 2011

How Do I Discover What my Fears are All About?

I would like to respond to the comment left on the last post.   Here is the comment:

You mention that we can become free from old habitual fear responses once we know what they are and stop believing in them.'

My question is; How do I discover / understand those fears? Your books have helped me immensely. I'm no longer troubled that 'Depression' will overcome me because I now know, that Depression is something I do to myself.
However I often drift into that zone of where I feel a sense of nothingness and helplessness. It's often some time till I recognize I'm there, and then once again I recognize I must use the 'tools' to begin my climb back out.
I have strong fears that have stayed with me from childhood. I'm afraid of people. Relatives have told me that at age 4, I was "a very well behaved boy." My recollections were that I was always scared of people and always needed permission to do things, which has carried through well into adulthood.
My parents were gentle people. So this has always perplexed me as to where these fears came from.

Here is my response:

If your parents were timid themselves they could have been kind without being able to teach you social skills that could have meant a smoother path in life.They could have been kind without understanding that they should have been proactive in telling you what a wonderful person you were from babyhood so that you would feel "worthy" because your parents felt you were worthy. Perhaps your parents thought it went without saying. When we are very young we believe everything our parents tell us. If they say "you're smart" we believe it. If they say, you're beautiful, we believe it. When we are older, if we don't feel smart and beautiful already, no matter how much people tell us how great we are, we simply don't believe it. The age of introjection has passed. 

If we don't feel "worthy," we are afraid of people because we fear they are judging us as being "less than." Nobody wants to feel "less than." If we can learn to recognize "I'm unworthy" as a foolish judgment about ourselves, we can learn to face that we are feeling and thinking of ourselves as "less than," we can accept the feeling and the thinking as erroneous and unnecessary and move ahead to a different place of attitude. We can tell ourselves a different story about ourselves like "I'm perfectly okay." Something different is always a bit scary until you get used to it. 

If you haven't read Wayne Dyers Your Erroneous Zones, this might help.

Some of us feel entitled to "take our space" in life and some of us feel we must somehow “earn” that entitlement for ourselves. My husband, for instance, has always pushed right ahead just as if everybody liked him. I suspect he cares somewhat whether or not people like him, but it is not necessary for him to "push ahead." I think he just expects people to like him, for he is pretty satisfied with himself.

Whereas I, like you, for most of my early life felt unsure to "push ahead" like I was feeling “already accepted. I needed to prove myself somehow. Some of us have mild social anxiety until we risk ourselves often enough and see that it doesn't "kill us." It is possible to get to the point of feeling comfortable in our own skin: "hey we're all just people here, aren't we, and I'm a people, too, so there!!

I'm much better at that now. I see other people move ahead without dwelling on their flaws. Good for them. And good for you that you have "tools." Our fears, for the most part, are "old childhood stuff," kind of an old story we don't have to keep telling ourselves. Remember that fear is our default mode. When we are not actively pursuing the positive in life, we gravitate toward the "nothingness and helplessness" that is always the opposite of positive.

I always suggest Toastmaster's International as a good way to learn how to feel comfortable in a group. It's a wonderful way to exercise our "social risk factor" by practicing public speaking. Generally speaking, we never suffer from an excess of nothingness so much as we suffer from a lack of fullness. I do love this quote so I'll put it here even though I've put it on my blog before. As long as we can connect with our fellow man, we can be okay. We are here to help each other.

“To complain that life has no joy as long as there is a single creature that we can relieve by our bounty, assist by our counsels, or enliven by our presence is to lament a loss of that which we possess, and just as irrational as to die of thirst with the cup in our hand.” Sir Thomas Fitzosborne

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I do like the image you present of your husband 'taking his place' or just 'pushing ahead' as if everyone liked him.
Mulling it around, I decided, I can do similar... I can act as if everyone likes me as I engage in social encounters. Immediately I feel more comfortable in peoples prescence because I'm not trying to figure out how to present myself to them (judge their approval of me). It's another useful tool.