LIVING IN FEAR
Handling fear is as easy as 1-2-3!
[All three parts are necessary to get the full scope, so please read Parts I and II first. Go to https://doctorzest.com/social-relationships/ for full list of topics.]
“Previously, on Doctor Zest…” – A quick review of Parts I and II…
So, you are afraid…
I am also afraid.
And here we sit in our fear.
But the fact is, afraid or not, if you are alive you must do something next.
You always must do something next.
The question is, “WHAT am I going to do next?”
This is a constant question in our mind. Not always are we conscious of it…but it is still there.
What am I going to do next?
As we stand, sit, lie HERE, we (you and I) have decided to take a stand:
What I do next will happen by deliberate choice.
Our first step in the “Easy as 1-2-3” approach was knowing this opportunity even existed for us:
Existence, based on purple tuna strain choice-making VS. A non-choice-based autopilot existence
Second step: Knowing you have a choice about what happens next.
Which leads us to the 3rd Step: WHAT shall we choose to do next?
[End of Review of first two parts of Living In Fear.]
Part III (of three).
Now we have arrived. We have gained the necessary awareness and knowledge to bring us to the point of action. We are aware we have thoughts and that they precede feelings and actions on our part. We also learned we can control those thoughts and, therefore, the subsequent feelings and actions that originate with us.
Let’s be practical. [An ironic statement, since nothing has been more practical than what you are learning here. Nothing.]
We are speaking about thoughts you originate, and what actions/feelings will follow from them. So, what about what others do to you? Say to you? Exhibit their feelings about something? You can’t control that, can you/
No, but you can control how you take it in and what YOU will do with it, right?
[Ummm, if you are hesitating, the answer is YES. ;-]
“But,” you protest, “They have stuck their actions and feelings into my head…they are in there without my permission. I cannot walk around with a blindfold on, and earplugs in my head!”
True. But you CAN decide what to do —
Let me interrupt myself and give you a story to help.
The Box Story
A box shows up from Amazon at your doorstep. You bring it into your house, sit it on the coffee table, and open it, even though you did not order it. Inside the box are some sticks, string, wood, paper, coloring pens, a pair of scissors, and a bottle of glue. And NO instructions.
You check the label. Yep. It’s addressed to you…and you now notice it states on the box, “A gift for you!”
Curious. Maybe it’s from your crazy sister…the funloving one. Could be from your brother, who has always seemed a bit off. Maybe it was from some accumulated points from all your purchases from somewhere, somehow. Point is, it’s all YOURS now.
What to do with it?
EXACTLY! It’s yours now! It was someone else’s at one time. It was delivered by someone other than you. But now it is in your living room, on your coffee table…and it belongs to you and you alone. What are you going to do with it – this box of sticks, string, wood, paper, pens, scissors and glue?
And, no instructions! Take a guess where the instructions are going to come from?
Let’s look at the possibilities…
Because there are no instructions, you might say, “I have to find out who this came from and ask them what this is for…what am I supposed to DO with this stuff?”
You close the box. First, you call your sister. No, she didn’t send it. Then you call your brother. No, he didn’t send it.
STOP! Why are you calling who you think might have sent it? One reason you feel you have to know who sent it is that perhaps they will give you the missing instructions.
But maybe you want to make sure this wonderful treasure is truly YOURS.
Like, maybe your brother would own up and say something such as, “Oh, yeah, I forgot to tell you that I thought you might want to re-create that time you and I, on a Saturday, made our own kites from some sticks, paper, and glue, and went over to Oscar Park and flew them all day!”
Then you would have instructions.
But no, it’s not from your brother.
You are back where you started…a bunch of stuff with no guidance as what to do with it.
Let’s look at another possibility – or two – or three…
You say to yourself…”Well, it’s mine, and it’s just clutter – I have other things to do!” so you might take it out into the backyard, put it in the fire pit, and light a match to the paper inside the box, and burn it all.
Or you could put it in the garage and make up your mind later about what to do with it.
Or you might say to yourself, “I needed some glue for this project I was going to work on this afternoon and thought I would have to go to Wal-Mart to get some glue! Wow, how fortuitous this showed up out of the blue! I will keep the glue and burn up the rest.”
Or you might rant and rave about the wasted resources – that someone is sending nonsense stuff that is useless, and then there is all that extra gas and fumes the UPS truck had to use in order to deliver the box to you – when you didn’t even ask for it.
Or you could whine about the extra clutter in your living room, and that now you can’t find the remote, and how stuff is always happening to you that you didn’t ask for, and now you have to go to all the trouble to dispose of it, and, and, and…
Or you could deduce that it WAS your sister who did this, just to mess with your head…probably getting back at you for the whoopie cushion gag you pulled on her at the family Thanksgiving dinner last month. And start thinking about how to get her back.
Or you could get all excited and think, “I am going to make something out of this…just to see what I can create!”
Do you agree that the point is made? And you got it, right? You are given raw materials all the time…and you create something out of them all the time. We do that because it makes us comfortable with our own beliefs – our assumptions about the world. It might even make us feel in charge. But what if the person in charge is full of crap? “Being in charge” is no great honor. For it is what you DO next with that power that counts. Full of crap people create more crap. And just because they swear it is true does not make it true.
“Every [hu]man needs a built-in, shockproof, crap detector.” –Ernest Hemingway
10 areas of endeavor that might help you overcome living in fear…
Finally getting down to it – in the 3rd part of a 3-part series – here are some ideas for dealing with fear. Some will be bullshit for you. You must let your intuition – light as a feather – drift upon the one(s) that speak truth to you.
- Find a Sense of Purpose in Your Life
If you do not know your purpose in life, then what the hell are you doing here? Putting in time ‘til you die? Pretty much. If you want to KNOW what your Purpose is on this planet, take my course on this which will help you develop YOUR Purpose. If you don’t want to pay the fee, let me know and I will give you a free pass for the course, no problem. It is that important you know what your purpose is, once and for all. More important than money, that is for damn sure. https://designyourlifeuniversity.com/courses/
- Build Positive Beliefs in Your Abilities
We cancel out our own positive beliefs. Sometimes we do it in the same sentence:
“I know I am a strong person but when it comes to___________, I am so weak.”
“I love my husband just as he is but if he would stop________things would be so much better.”
“I am always happy, but I can be demolished by one stern look from my father.”
“I am going to try to get out of debt.” Trying is not Doing. Trying is saying, “Someday…” and of course “someday” never comes. EVER.
- Develop a Strong Social Network
You have friends, use them. You don’t have any friends where you are? Make some…there are lonely people all over the place. How? Okay, this is really hard.
Go out hunting for friends. Act like you are shopping for yarn or something but strike up conversations with people. When you meet a potential friend, you will know it. Then meet up with them for coffee at Starbucks. Take it from there.
- Embrace Change
I laugh at this one because people hate to change. Another self-canceling way we reverse our positive opportunities is to say something clever like, “The only constant is change.” Then kick and scream every time we have to modify where we usually park or get royally pissed off because our brand of tomato sauce at the grocery store is out of stock, or moan and groan when we hear someone is coming over tonight to see us about something. [What!!!??? I have to give up watching MASH re-runs – again – for maybe an hour???]
- Be Optimistic
This is a good one. It really proves to yourself what we have been saying all along: You can make whatever you want out of that box of materials. The “glass half full” thing is no simple-minded adage. It totally encapsulates the notion that you can choose how you view things…and why should you? Because that will change how you react to them…what you will DO next.
- Nurture Yourself
Women are much better at this than men. A woman will say, “I am going to treat myself to a long warm bubble bath and then a nap.” Guys tend to be more like bulls at nurturing, “Yeah, I’m going to nurture myself with a six-pack of Bud and a ballgame.”
- Develop Your Problem-Solving Skills
Huge! Has it dawned on you, yet, that life is just one damn problem after another? Life is literally a Pez dispenser of problems! Starts first thing when your baby blues or browns or greens pop open in the morning, right?
Problem: Should I put on the coffee or go to the bathroom first?
Problem: Do I have enough time to fry an egg or should I just grab a Pop-Tart for breakfast?
Problem: Which lower half goes with which upper half which go with which shoes?
Problem: Should I take a chance with the Slauson Cutoff being open today or just surrender and take the One around anyway?
Problem: How do I figure out the intention of this meeting with the boss today? What should I say if it is a critical comment about my work?
So, if there is ONE SKILL we need in this world, it is to be a better problem-solver.
If you want the one-page schema for solving problems, email me at
Anthony@DrD-J.com and ask for it.
- Establish Goals
There is something comforting about taking one goal at a time…and accomplishing it. It stifles our fear because fear is all about control. Need proof? You are at the zoo, and this announcement comes over the PA system.
Ohmigod, a Bengal tiger has escaped his cage and we do not know where he is!! Run, everyone, run!!
Why run? Because we feel out of control over what this tiger will do if he finds us. But what IF you are the tiger trainer, and you know Benny the Bengal – work with him all the time – and he is just a pussycat, wouldn’t hurt anyone. “I will find him and give him a reassuring hug and lead him back to his cage.” No fear, right? Because you control the tiger not the other way around.
Have fun and make up other examples to prove to yourself that fear is about not having control.
Setting goals puts us in control and alleviates fear a LOT. Alcoholics are afraid of drinking, so they have a goal to confront that fear “One day at a time.” i.e., I can bear anything one day at a time.
Don’t set BIG goals for this…set little ones. The more fearful you are the shorter should be the goal. Set 5-minute goals if you need to: “For the next five minutes I will read Doctor Zest posts!” “For the next 5 minutes I will continue walking outdoors.”
- Learn to breathe correctly to handle fear
Breathing is highly underrated until you cannot. We all take it for granted. “You telling me to breathe…that’s the best you got?” Well, no, it is not the best I got but it will do until something better comes along. You have to breathe anyway so why not breathe in a way that will help you? Breathe with me for 5 minutes at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCIrwae_UhU&t=6s Try it, you WILL feel better!
- Develop and, then, remember to USE your tools to handle fear.
None of the previous 9 will work – by themselves. You have to put them to use, practice them, then remember to use them! Sounds silly, right? But when we are fearful, we are all, as my grandmother would say, “In a dither.” We are like Henny Penny inside yelling out, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” Remember why HP thought that? It was because an acorn fell onto his head, but he did not see it…and HP was a bit of a reactionary to begin with. He was running around screaming, “Ohmigod, the sky is falling! Run, run for your lives.” (Okay, that is not exactly what he said, but you get the point.) That is how we feel inside when fear grabs us by the throat.
Remember that most fear is not fear at all. It is anxiety. The difference?
Fear: Scared of something REAL. You see a watermelon falling off a truck into your windshield as you drive 70 mph, tailgating a farm truck in Georgia. [Sorta serves you right, but anyway…] That is fear because you may be blinded and cannot see to drive if it hits your windshield or it may come thru the window and kill you. So, the fear in this case is trying to save your life. It is saying, “Wake up!!! This could be it!! Death by watermelon! Due something!”
Anxiety: You have the same reaction as with fear but there is no watermelon truck. Anxiety is being afraid of something that does not exist. Yet.
If it is useful, anxiety says, “Get a plan, this could happen.” Fear says, “Danger! Now! Do something immediately if not sooner!”
So, next time you feel fear, ask yourself, “Is there a clear and present danger?” If not, it is anxiety. But if you have those HP feelings inside it does feel the same. So, a smart person will say, “Wait, this isn’t real fear. There is no clear and present danger. It is just unwarranted anxiety from watching CNN. Hey, I have all these tools to handle this. I just need to use them. Which one shall I implement, right NOW?”
Okay, there it is. A single article/post turned into 3 parts…but it will help in this time of crisis to a) Develop your tools in advance; and, b) Remember to use them.
Take care (and breathe!)
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Want to read something you can use over and over? Kill Stress Before It Kills You!