October 23, 2021

What’s the worst that could happen?

“He who is not every day conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

At one point in my life, I realized I lived in total fear. Reading my journals from that long ago time, I was afraid of everything. Failure in my job, people, going broke, that there was something wrong with me, that I’d never find someone to love. I’d lived in that place so long I didn’t realize it. It was just normal for me.

When I came to that realization it was a jolt. I didn’t want to live in fear. I wanted peace and calm, self confidence and optimism.

Fast forward to today and all of us are living in a time of great anxiety. But this time we’re facing life and death stuff – like the pandemic, the economy and the direction of our country.

Listing your fears

It seems like every year someone comes out with a list of the top ten things people fear. Public speaking is often number one and death, snakes, spiders/insects, and heights usually show up, too.

I’m not even going to try getting over my fear of snakes or insects. But I got over my fear of public speaking by joining a Toastmasters group. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.

The thing about fears is you have to face them and that’s why it’s a good exercise to list them. If you’ve got a list in front of you, you can start another list – this one about the things you can do about your fears.

An example

So, if I made a list and put my fear of snakes or insects or heights on it, the second list would be something like: I’m staying away from those critters or I’m not getting close to the edge of a cliff.

I might also mention that if I come upon a snake, I’m going to back away slowly. Same thing with a bug.

You deal with fear by getting practical, deciding what actions you can take and the real truth about your situation.

[Note: The painting above is “The Scream” by Edvard Munch.]

Writing spark

Write down 50 things you’re afraid of.  It’s okay to repeat, but write as quickly as you can so as to access your subconscious fears.

Then go through the list and group your fears in categories. Are you most afraid for your health, your financial well-being or something else?

Then make a second list focusing on action and reality. For example:

I’m afraid I’ll go broke.    =>    I have enough money right now and haven’t gone broke yet.

I’m afraid I’ll go broke.    =>    I can cut back on unnecessary spending and get a part-time job.

If I go broke, what will I do? => Ask someone for a loan; cash in my IRA; sell my car.

Notice how you feel about your fears after this exercise.

“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.”
–Louisa May Alcott

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