By David Joel Miller.
Reasons you are afraid.
Fear is everywhere. Some people achieve great things in spite of their fear while other people are paralyzed into inaction by those very same fears. We establish a relationship with every one of those fears and anxieties.
What is your relationship to your fears?
Fear, like anxiety, can be either a protector or a bully. Some fear is protective. It reminds us that we are not immortal, bad things can happen to us. Lack of fear in dangerous situations can put us at risk of serious injury or death. Fear can also keep us a prisoner in our own minds.
No one is totally fearless. We each have some fear lurking there in our brains, hard-wired into our psyche, the result of generations of living with the dangers of the world. Brave people act in spite of fear.
If you live with a person you get to know them over time. You talk with them, ask them questions and sometimes question what they say. Have you questioned your fears?
It is said that all our fears fall into two principle classes: Fear of losing something we have and Fear of not getting something we want.
Fear of losing something we have.
Being afraid of death or serious bodily injury is reasonable, but some people are so afraid they might lose what they have they never loosen their grip on the things in their life. When your hands and life is full of things there is no room left to add something new.
People come in for counseling all the time, terribly afraid of losing a job. They hate the job, don’t like or respect the place they work, yet they just can’t bring themselves to leave. Often they are afraid that they are going to be fired or laid off. They are stuck in fear of being without a job, so stuck in that fear, they become paralyzed.
Eventually something happens. One day they become angry and quit or that dreaded firing occurs. Then they are forced to look for a new job. There is frequently a period of suffering. Money is tight, but most often they get a new job and when they do they report they like the new one so much better. They wish they had made the change earlier.
When I see these clients I try to remind them that the best time to look for work is when you have a job. But fear can keep you frozen until you are forced to make that change.
Sometimes the new job pays less or requires relocation. They start off saying they just can’t cut their bills, can’t move away from their family or friends, but eventually they do just that. The impossible becomes doable. Running from fear makes it grow; facing you worst fears can shrink them.
The lessons I learned from this is to keep my options open, keep doing my best and never say I can’t do something. Do not let the fear of losing something keeps you from finding what just might make you happier than ever before.
The same principle applies to unhappy or violent relationships, people hold on to a relationship trying to make it be something it will never be. Judith Viorst in her book Necessary Losses talks about the way in which we may have no room for new relationships until we end the old.
Is the fear of losing something you currently have, preventing you from creating the happy life you deserve?
Fear of not getting something we want.
Ever want something so much you were unable to take the steps you needed to take to secure your goal? The fear that we won’t be able to do something keeps so very many people from ever trying in the first place.
Students tell me they could never take a particular class or complete a certain degree. “Too old” is the most common reason. I know from very personal experience that “too old” is never a valid excuse. More and more people are returning to school for a career change. That master’s degree I had always wanted to complete and never did. The one I put off because I need to work and support a family? The one that I told myself I was too old to try for? I completed that degree forty years after my first day in college. Please don’t tell me it is ever too late or that it is taking too long to get that degree.
People tell me I will be thirty, forty, or fifty when they finish. That it may take them six or ten years to get this done. They say they will only be able to work for twenty or thirty years at this new field. How much older will you be in ten years if you do not try? Will you be any younger if you don’t try?
How many people know what they want out of life at 18. How many students train for careers they never work in? What if the career you trained for ceased to exist like the Cordwainers and Redsmiths?
Age and experience can be such a plus.
People are afraid to apply for a job, take a test or ask someone out on a date for fear they will not get what they want. They can sink into depression and hopelessness while never even taking the test or making the effort.
How old is too old to have a loving relationship? People say they can’t try again. I have sat and watched people in their “golden years” down in the desert in the winter. Those gray-haired elders, every day you see a couple of them meeting and dating just like they were sixteen again. Please don’t think there is some point in your life when you have to settle for unhappiness.
Have you experienced fear keeping you from a happy life? Are you done letting your fears of losing something you have and your fears of not getting something you want keep you from the life you should have?
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books