Saturday, February 02, 2008

Fear and Self-Sabotage

It’s been another busy week. Nothing quite as exciting as last week but a time when I’ve own reaction as I’ve dealt with things.

One of the things I found myself thinking about this week was fear—and what it costs us.

When I look back over my life, every act of self-sabotage happened because of fear. Even now, every time I’m afraid, I’m in danger of acting in ways that will create the circumstances of which I’m most afraid. (Example: If I’m afraid of going to the dentist, I may put it off until problems become serious and because I’m afraid, there will be more adrenaline in my system which will push out the Novocain faster so I am more likely to find the work painful.)(Example: If I’m afraid of being abandoned by someone, I’m likely to keep pressing for reassurance whereas if I can let go then I can just enjoy the relationship I have with that person and it’s more likely to work out in positive ways.)

The paradox is that the optimal strategy is to say to myself: Okay, I’m scared BUT AS AN EXPERIMENT I’m going to let go and trust that everything will all work out.

This isn’t how most of us were raised. This isn’t the strategy most of us developed to cope with abuse as a child. If I try to think too hard about it, I start wondering if I’m out of my freaking mind to think this could work. And yet....

And yet, by observation I know that it does work for me. I do have more time and energy for things I want to do. Things do tend to work out and I am far less likely to sabotage myself in any way. And even when the worst case scenario plays out, because I’m more relaxed I’m much more likely to think of things I wouldn’t if I was still scared.

It works, too, in dealing with friends and family members who tend to get caught up in their own personal dramas. (I used to get sucked in ALL the time!) Now, I step back, remind myself that the optimal strategy is to assume it will all work out and then I can be of most help because MY emotions aren’t caught up in the emotions. This means my brain is working more efficiently and I may be able to see clearly: a) options and (more importantly!) b) where my responsibility begins and ends. I can see that I don’t have to solve everyone’s problems and I can step back and let them solve their own—perhaps offering some suggestions but without any “investment” in whether the person uses my suggestions or not.

The good thing about this strategy is that I don’t have to put lots of time and energy into figuring out the “whys.” I don’t have to know why I’m afraid. I don’t have to know where that fear began. I don’t have to repress that fear. I can acknowledge it, honor it, and then let it go. I can keep moving forward with whatever I need to do.

Sometimes it’s good to just stop and observe how we act and react and consciously choose which strategies we want to keep and which we want to change. There’s power and comfort in knowing we have choices.

Wishing for all of you lots of empowering choices this week!

Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),


gypsy-heart said...

Good insight April. I had to "step back" too, and it does work! All will be as it should be...that thought is so liberating...let alone how it frees up our energy for positive things.
Our minds are similar. :)
Positive energies to you too!

Perfect said...

Great post and oh SO true! Fear and negative thinking have so often caused me to create self fulfilling prophecies in the past. We attract the same energy we put out so when we're wrapped up in the victim mentality, we can absolutely be certain to stay caught up in a perpetuating cycle. It takes courage and strength to break it and to believe we are worthy of good things in our lives. But it's worth the leap of faith! I really enjoy your blog....lots of great motivation!

keepers said...

you are very on target here we think, of course stepping back is not so easy sometimes but it is a lesson we learned and just need to keep it out front where it can do us the most good.

thanks for a helpful post


Kahless said...

Yes, trying to step back is important.
Not only does fear keep us back but it is the fear from our past which is unfounded in the present if we think it through.

Rising Rainbow said...

You are so right that fear goes hand in hand with setting ourselves up. It's a good thing to get that figured out and change the dynamic.

In case you didn't know it, there is a pesky virus thing called a meme going around. I hate to say this but I've tagged you with it. Check out my blog for details.

jumpinginpuddles said...

we agre we are learnign to step back more and more and achieving far better results vbecause of it and youve been tagged if you go to our blog

Lobster-Quadrille said...

Thanks for this. I've known for awhile now that the minute I recognize I'm experiencing the Deer in the Headlights feeling, it's time to stop in my tracks and regroup. Faith or Fear, you have to pick one b/c there's no room for both.

However, your post today gave me lots of food for thought about the Self-Sabotage component to all this. I think part of me assumed that nothing was happening if I was in Deer/Headlights mode, and of course, that's simply not true.

I've still got lots to learn about Taking Good Care of Me, and how Life is a lot like the airplane demonstration before take-off: you must first put the oxygen mask on your own face before you can help anyone else.

Thanks again -- for the post, for the blog.

Marj aka Thriver said...

I really like how you articulated that we can acknowledge the fear, honor it and then let it go WITHOUT figuring out where it came from or why. I'm going to remember that one and put it to use. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Fear can be so paralising. I am really fearful of something at the moment; but I dont understand why and I am struggling to step back. Its like fear full stop. I ask myself why and the answer is blank.
So I face my fear tomorrow?
I hope so. Because.

April_optimist said...

Gypsy Heart, And just think what we can do with that new energy!

Perfect, So good to have you post! Thanks for the nice words.

Keepers, Fortunately it's a habit that gets easier and easier the more we do it and see that it works.

Kahless, Exactly! Any time we feel a very strong emotion--positive or negative--odds are that it's resonating with similar experiences in the past...

Rising Rainbow and Jumping in Puddles, LOL! See my latest post for my list.

Lobster Quadrille, Welcome! Yeah, it took me a looooong time to realize the self-sabotage part. (Can we say slow learner?) I'm not sure I really got it until this year!

Marj, Isn't it cool NOT to have to know?

Anonymous, Welcome. I sometimes picture separating past from present with a fear and putting the part that's from the past in a box so that all I have to deal with in the moment is the fear that is NOW. And sometimes I just keep chanting: It will be all right. I WILL figure out the answers. NOW I AM SAFE.

Angel said...

So true, and so timely for me. Thank you!

April_optimist said...

Angel, So glad it resonated with you!