It doesn’t take much for the fear balloon to inflate to a full, near bursting size that can put your mind into a terrible cell with bars so thick that you can barely breathe. How does it get that way? Why do we allow it to grow so? How do we change our thoughts and prevent our imagination from working against us by creating these huge What if’s that fill these fear balloons up so? Why do we ignore some of the inflated balloons that linger in our minds, floating around, no longer being continuously fed by what if’s instead of deflating them?
Let’s start first with the How’s. How is a simple process that happens so quickly that we barely even see it coming along? A small little trigger item, one that we may have some apprehension about, one that we feel we don’t have control over, or one that perhaps that we believe should be a trigger, starts this train wreck. Some examples of this trigger thought are your child or loved one not being home when they should, a new experience that has been given to you or you have chosen to do, a diagnosis, a loss of pay regardless of reasoning, an unexpected bill or approaching confrontation, anything that we overthink or over create as an obstacle that we give great meaning or power to.
Everyone may or may not have had the very same thing come up for them. Why is it a fear for some and not for others? It’s the meaning we give to it and the amount of What If’s we create to use against us that change it. Let’s start with a loved one not coming home on time. The first thing we may do is get a little mad. Why didn’t they call? Why aren’t they considerate of me knowing I am waiting? Me. Me. Me. Then it changes. Is it to cover up our bit of guilt we have for feeling this anger and selfishness? A feeling rises inside you. It’s really dark, perhaps something is wrong. Maybe car trouble or an accident? What if they can’t call or might be in great trouble. What if their workplace was robbed? What if? What if? What if? The balloon begins to fill with great force. Five very long minutes later, when you are already trying to decide how you will live through the funeral, your loved one walks through the door only to be greeted by your bipolar emotional deflation of the balloon you created. What a waste of energy and life moments. And guess what? You just practiced so it will be bigger and faster and scarier next time.
So what do we do to change this pattern? We practice. We create new stories and face the “What if’s” by removing any of them, one by one, that have no truth in them. We talk ourselves out of each of them. Leaving only the truth. Then we take some action so that we no longer feel powerless over our fears. Let’s use the same scenario with the loved one. So our loved one scenario has already began. Our initial anger has begun to turn against us.
“Something is wrong”, it says.
And I interrupt by saying, “Just because it is dark, it doesn’t mean something is wrong. They probably are stuck in traffic or were detoured.”
“Maybe it is car trouble,” it tries again.
“The car is in great shape and my loved one has AAA or would call if there was a problem. No call, No problem!” I respond more forcefully.
“What if the workplace was robbed?” Look at that imagination go…
“Robbed? Really? Is that the best you can do?” I ask.
“What if…” It starts again only to be stopped by me interrupting.
“It’s only been 5 minutes for goodness sakes, we have a 15 minute rule before even considering one late or calling. You’ve got 10 more minutes before you are allowed to start.”
All is quiet in my thoughts. My calm has returned. I busy myself with a nice glass of wine to greet my loved one or the basket of laundry for my teenager or whatever else I plan to GREET them with. Balloon deflated, mind cleared. It’s a practice.
So let’s try another scenario. Jealousy. The fear of losing the one we love. We’ve all been there, one side or another. Some have created the same fear in every single relationship and are so good at it that even truth cannot deflate that balloon. Their relationships suffer and they drive their loved one away with the anger and hurt of being untrusted for someone or even worse, no one’s bad behavior.
So when that jealousy balloon starts to fill with air, look right at it. Straight at it and ask yourself seriously why your loved one would want someone else. Have they complained about you or asked you to consider working on the relationship? Perhaps this is your own self-worth that is filling the balloon. I get myself right to the point. I love this person so much I have a huge fear of losing them. So great is my love for them that I cannot imagine the life without them because my life would be so empty of great love. It is the best I have ever loved. I fill myself with these thoughts, these loving thoughts. Then I remind myself that this love, this great love, is a two part relationship and I am half of that. I have co-created a loving relationship. I then tell my love how much I love them and give them a chance to feel my love. I push ugly thoughts out, deflating my balloon completely by realizing that even if tomorrow this love died away, I am greater for having had it, and I wouldn’t trade this relationship experience for anything. So, if losing this relationship is the fuel, I have already taken the fuel away by saying, “I choose it no matter what!”
Fear of failure is one of my biggest struggles. The paradigms that build from that fear are numerous and I work on this most. Those “What ifs?” are very frequent and I face them as they come. What if you make a fool of yourself? Well, I’ve been known to be pretty funny in life so a few more laughs won’t kill me. What if no one likes what you create? Well, even Stephen King has to admit that not everyone likes his work. Some despise it even. Not everyone loves Van Gogh, and not everyone is a fan of Paula Deen. So there are bound to be some that don’t like my creations as well. I’m good with that. What if I am not good enough? Good enough for what? For someone to like me? For someone to decide to be my friend? For someone to hire me? Good enough is too broad of a term to allow it to fill balloons. Get to the root of it and give yourself a talking to. Talk away the fears.
Fear of death is a tough one. We are all going to die. It’s not a surprise to any of us. Yet when a diagnosis comes to a loved one, we allow that balloon of fear to fill up so big that we cannot see or feel the present moment. Look at that fear and release it. The fear of living a life without them is real, but the guilt of not being present and being 100% the person in their life you choose to be because of the fear will haunt you forever. Take that as a little gift from above, be grateful that you have been given a chance to tell the person how much they mean, how they changed your life, ask them any questions you have meant to ask, forgive any past needing forgiven. Be love. Be real. Allow the hurting to begin at the end instead of living the end hurting hoping that it will somehow lesson the pain when it comes. It doesn’t. No amount of pre hurting will change the pain when they leave. Don’t play that game with your heart. You’ll lose.
The only other thing I care to mention right now is the words “Will I be…?” You will be you. You can choose to be any version of you in any moment in your life. So, will I be a great mother? Do you choose to be? What steps are you taking to lead you in that path? What is the definition of a great mother? Who are people you believe represent that statement? Do you have what it takes to BE that in your life?
What do you want to be? How do you want to be? Why do you want to be that? All those questions only you can answer and only you can choose to be. Face your fears, it takes practice. Love yourself enough to forgive yourself and remember that you can choose to be something different if you don’t like who you are right now. Stop wasting energy on fear and use it in the being of life.