Fear is a really powerful thing. Fear makes you do crazy things but more often it keeps you from doing. It keeps you from taking a chance, making the first move, opening up, connecting, creating, listening, seeing, the list goes on and on. I didn’t realize this power that fear has had over me until relatively recently.
Fear can be a good thing and was intended to help us to stay safe. It was intended to protect us from things that could harm us. It still does that in many ways. If you never try anything, you’re probably less likely to get hurt. At least in an obvious way. Less obvious is the fact that by not doing, by not living, you are hurting yourself and others who would have benefitted by you truly living your life as you. You are staying small and stunting your growth. I know I have and now realize how much. Not that I am beating myself up about it. That is totally contrary to the LovingME way. No, I embrace the new knowledge, forgive the past and learn in the present so that I can apply now and in the future. I also actively look for fear in my life for awareness is the first step.
It seems like we would know what we are afraid of, right? It seems that we would be able see and feel the fear in our lives and that it wouldn’t have to be uncovered. Not so much, in many cases. Some of the most dangerous and damaging fears are those operating outside our consciousness but affecting us nonetheless. These are the stealth fears that oppress us without us realizing it.
Here is an embarrassing small personal example. About six months ago, I finally looked into my electric bill. Here in Texas, we have had deregulation for a number of years, which means that there is competition for the service. Everyone pays the same for the connection and infrastructure portion but then companies compete for the actual usage. When all of this happened many years ago, I didn’t know what to do. I had no knowledge of the different plans and exactly zero interest in researching it so I did nothing. I was busy with work I told myself and I told myself that I didn’t want to get tied into a long-term contract. What if the price goes down? What if the price goes up at the end and they gouge me? I will keep my options open, thank you very much. Well, suffice it to say that I had been overpaying for electric by thousands of dollars in that time. Because I was afraid to make a mistake. I was scared of the perceived risk in changing and instead of mitigating that risk with knowledge, I chose to do nothing. Nice, valuable lesson I learned. You are welcome, Mr. TXU!
Our education system creates and rewards risk aversion and conformity. I will skip any conjecture on motive except to say that I suppose the powers that be believe it helps keep kids manageable in the classroom and it is the way we have always done it. Mistakes are graded off. You are judged by the number of answers you give that are the exact answers that the teachers are expecting. Anything else is a mistake and will cost you in your Permanent Record. Teacher says cat, student says cat. Don’t go asking questions about why or seeing if blue is a better answer. It doesn’t matter if blue is a better answer because the only “right” answer is cat. So we learn to recite what the teacher wants and we do not risk a bad grade. We aim to get them all right because that will get us the reward of the good grade. And we love the reward. And we learn to hate the mistake. We learn to avoid the mistake more than seeking the best solution. I did anyway. I was excellent in school – a model student. You tell me what you want and I will throw up exactly what you want in the way you want it. It doesn’t matter if none of it is real or what I want or what I think. It is what you want and expect so that is what you are gonna get. And I get my A. Sweet.
Unlearning can sometimes take longer than learning. I am still unlearning the throw up what they want method of life. I still want the A. But I am learning not to fear the mistake. I am learning not to fear the F more than life itself. I learned more by being fired than I ever learned by getting the A. I learned that fear is nearly all self-inflicted. It loses its power when you do it anyway. Now I help people find and work around the fears that have held them back so that they can live in their full potential. It is amazing the energy that those old fears suck from life and what can happen when you take them offline.