There is a well known and slightly overused acronym for the word FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real. While I am a fan of the various word forms we use, this particular one is not on my list of favorites, and here’s why.
Sometime the proof that fear presents with is quite real. In fact, it may be backed with the scientific data of a medical report, a declined debit card at the checkout clearly stating there is more month than money, or the violent images displayed on television happening all around us. The truth is that fear can be comprised of lots of evidence, it’s indisputable.
To oversimplify the effects of fear by insinuating it isn’t evidence based is not the way to disempower, disengage or destroy it.
I would go so far to say that at times it is our friend and not a foe. It alarms us when danger is present, but it can do more than that. It can be the catalyst we need to stimulate change and take a deeper look inside ourselves as to why a particular person, place, thing or experience causes us to feel the way we do.
I am not lobbying for it, as it steals our moments and can leave us feeling stuck like a deer in oncoming headlights. However, it has its place in the world and the best way to deal with it is head on. So if it isn’t false evidence, then what exactly IS fear?
Fear is a story. It is an emotion so chameleon like that it can become anything it needs to be to maintain it’s alpha status inside our heads.
As we replay the events surrounding it, they take on a life of their very own. We find others to corroborate our story, agree with our anxieties, help to distract us from it, and even convince ourselves that feeling it is for our own good.
After all, we have people depending on us to do the right thing, we must choose to stay consistent and not rock the boat, we only have limited experience therefore we can only do what we know to do, our resources are so limited that we better not spend a penny on anything not pertaining to necessity, and on and on we go.
We tell our story of fear to everyone and anyone within earshot. We have the facts and the data to support it, therefore it’s very real. Or so we think it is.
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous inaugural line best sums up the nature of this beast we seek to tame: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” When you break it right down, it’s nothing more than an emotion we attach to circumstances we cannot control. We have proof which dictates that we should be feeling something, right?
Since fear is a pack animal it’s often accompanied by anxiety and worry. Sprinkle in some self-doubt and it’s the worlds most synchronized recording playing over and over in our heads.
When you share your story of fear people WILL listen.
Some may sympathize, others will offer to help and there will be those who use your fear to their own advantage. In every story there are characters, conflicts and resolution. Its the twists and turns of the people making their way (or not) to a conclusive end that make for a page turning book. When we speak of our story from a place of fear it’s fueled with all the drama and angst that the world loves to either comfort or control.
It’s a hook so powerful that the buy-in occurs at a gut level, creating the very outcome that supports our facts.
What we need to do is re write the story, but some of our plots are so thick, and characters so entrenched in their roles it may seem impossible to do.
If you can’t re write the page, just rip it right out of your book!
That’s right, rip it out. Tear it up, stomp on it, shred it, just make sure that it is unrecognizable. Your story, like so many stories, may be filled with facts – but the facts are only as real as the value YOU assign to them. Living as a nomad with no place to call home may be a factual circumstance. To one person this is failure, to another it’s freedom. So it is with fear.
It is only as powerful and debilitating as you choose to let it become.
No one should make light of the trauma, tragedy and turmoil we are faced with in this lifetime. However, recognizing that fear itself is a story, a thought and a feeling that we choose to elevate in the midst of our circumstance can be liberating. The data may be real, but the emotion we attach to it is not. It’s in this space of learning and detaching that we can become free.
We may come to realize that the grip of fear is often caused by our own minds. As a man thinks, so he becomes.