Bob Diamond: Being from Earth, as you are, and using as little of your brain as you do [5%] , your life has pretty much been devoted to dealing with fear. That’s what ‘little brains’ do. I’m just like you, but…I got over my fears and got smarter.
Fear is like a giant fog! It sits on your brain and blocks everything…real feelings…true happiness…real joy. But you lift it? And buddy, you’re in for
the ride of your life!!
[Scene from the movie “Defending Your Life”, in which Bob Diamond (Rip Torn) is explaining to the newly-deceased Daniel Miller (Albert Brooks) what Daniel is doing in Judgment City.]
I figure I must’ve been born into this life to teach people how to overcome their fears. The opposite of fear is motivation and inspiration (my company name). That’s why I find it ironic that my fears were hidden from me for most of my life.
When I was only three days old, I underwent a particularly terrifying medical procedure which, to a newborn, felt like being stabbed to death, with my father’s help. From that day forward, I learned to block out all fear, grief, sadness and most pain.
Then, when I was 38 years old, I began dreaming about the raccoon, my symbol for fear, the little thief who steals inspiration. As my friend, Guy, said, “Look at it this way. At least it’s not a dragon!”
Needless to say, the ensuing experience was terrifying! I plunged into ‘the dark night of the soul’. All those fears repressed for so many years came welling up inside me. During one particularly bad week, I would wake up and feel the fear rumble, starting at the top of my toes. Gradually, it worked it’s way creepingly up my body. Horrible fear–nausea and panic– rolled like waves up my body. I wasn’t sure I would live. At the least, I felt I was going quietly insane. By the end of the week, I was waking up shouting, “Okay! Come on, Fear! Hit me with your best shot!!”
I’d lie there while the waves rolled over me. When they passed, I would get up and begin my day.
I look back at those days, not so long ago, with the utmost gratitude. How could I ever have hoped to teach people about overcoming fear if I had never experienced it myself? Before the ‘fear’ experience, I had very little compassion. I used to get very impatient with people who had low self-esteem or phobias or any other form of fear. I’d usually cajole them to “just get over it.”
Now, when I’m around people who respond as I once would have, I smile quietly to myself, “Wow, are they ever in for a rough ride!” I should know.
There’s no one best way to deal with fear. Everyone handles it differently. And, there are many different kinds of fear. Basically, everything that is NOT LOVE is fear. Grief and sorrow are fear of loss. Anger is fear of control. Probably the most devastating and insidious fear is unworthiness. It’s very sly and debilitating. Unworthiness convinces you not to aim for the stars. “Leave that goal for the people with real talent!”
Once you learn to systematically identify and overcome your fears, you are in for a hellavu ride. Here are a few exercises for defeating your fears that you may find helpful. Let me know how you do. Knock ‘em dead!
1. Relive the most fearful experience of your life. How do you feel about it now? Where did you feel it in your body? Now turn it into a small rodent, like a raccoon or a mouse. And kill it. Pick whatever weapon you’d like: just visualize yourself shooting it, beating it to death, dissolving it, or poisoning it. (If you’re an animal rights activist, you may need to turn it into a lower life form first, like a lawyer or an IRS agent!) Now, how do you feel?
2. The next time you feel afraid, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen? (My clients who suffer from panic attacks are GREAT at imagining the worst case scenario.) So what?” Make the worst case shrink in your mind until it is just a speck. Pick up the speck and wash it down the drain. Now, what’s the worst pain you can imagine if you do not overcome this fear? Make the pain unimaginably bad. How do you feel about this fear now?
3. Another great fear-reducing technique is deep diaphragmatic breathing. Try it!
4. Choose an expression that makes you feel fearless. For me, it’s a line from the Jim Cary movie, “Mask.” He throws his arms out and shouts, “Somebody stop me!” I also really like the Cathy Bates line in “Fried Green Tomatoes.” She stretches two fists up in the air and screams, “Tawanda!”
5. If a situation is particularly fear-producing for you, try writing positive affirmations about it. Better yet, make up a song. Suppose you’re intimidated by your boss. You might sing:
“Oh, Mr. Grump is a big, fat stump and he looks just like a weasel.”
Or try the childhood rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
Kathy Moore, M.B.A., C.Ht., is the owner of Moore Inspirations, a motivational hynosis firm that specializes in helping people “change their lives by changing their minds.” She can be reached at 210-735-6766 or www.mooreinspire.com. The above article is an excerpt from a manuscript she is working on entitled, Singing in the Key of Alpha: Tuning in to Life’s Mystical Messages.