The Fear Balloon

Deflating Your Fear BalloonIt 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.

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Happy New Year!

High Five to resolutions!

High Five to Resolutions!

Hi, my name is Susan and I’m a Resolution maker.

And the readers say in unison, “Hi Susan!”

Every single year people across the globe begin the New Year with celebration and traditions. They welcome in the New Year with toasts and hugs and food and fun. This is often accompanied by way too much to drink, way too much to eat and way too little sleep. That is not where the festivities end, oh no. We think about the past year, deciding what we don’t want to carry over into this year, changing bad habits into good and even deciding to live the dreams we have been neglecting for whatever excuse we have assigned. We say goodbye to our year just lived and reflect on it with friends. We look at the road we have traveled and pat ourselves on the back for a walk well taken.

But it doesn’t end there does it? Oh no. We then create a list of all the things we vow to do in the upcoming year. All the exercise, healthy eating, quit smoking or eating, save money, schooling, more self-love, less crap from family or friends, finding a perfect job or romance and even major life events such as children and housing are decided. All in a night’s work. Many of our night’s list are long forgotten before the alcohol has completely left our system, but some of them linger and we try, so very hard at times even, to succeed. And to those of us who have had one or more on that list for many years, we know deep down that it may end up there again next year, and yet we set ourselves up to fail believing that New Year’s energy is some type of fix-all solution that could, might, may actually just remove that obstacle of our list without much effort. Resolutions.

Resolution does not mean Re-solution. It does not mean to do again and again. It means firm determination. It implies some will-power and actual daily work and a passion to succeed be placed on it. I’m not saying some don’t succeed in doing their entire list, some do. I’m not saying people don’t make great and wonderful changes in their lives by deciding on New Year’s Eve. Of course some do. But there is a reason that gyms are far emptier the last quarter of the year and that lean and smart frozen foods are only on sale in January. Many of us do not succeed in this tradition. Perhaps it’s the alcohol but I think it’s the magic in the idea that we are somehow given another entire year to live. Like a promise and so we repay that by creating this list of all the great things we will do to warrant that gift.

This year I have taken another course of thought. I will celebrate life each night, looking at my past day, week or even month, deciding where I would like to change things along the way, what I would like to do tomorrow and how I would like to be that next day. I propose a year of ONE DAY commitments. Tomorrow I will drink 8 glasses of water and no soda. Tomorrow I will walk at least 30 minutes. Tomorrow I will tell 3 people in my life why my life is so much better having them in it. Tomorrow I will remember to say 3 loving things to myself, a gift I seldom remember to give. That’s my 5 things for tomorrow. I may write them on my fingers so I can have them “hand-y” and remind me that I choose this today. If it is hard, I’m sure tomorrow night my choices will be a little different. I stand a high chance to have many, many successes in my year this way.

Last night a friend of mine translated in English a saying that is used in her country on New Year’s. When someone walks into the room and is bright and energetic it is a sign of good luck and prosperity on the household. This is loosely translated as being “a good leg” in English. So I wish you all a “good leg” this year and a “high 5” each and every day if you choose it. Please join me in living each day with the excitement of New Years and celebrate this year with successful changes.

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Spilling the Beans…

Pouring the beans onto the counter, the sound of them spilling and sliding and toppling over one another, I recalled my childhood and the mystery of the beans from long ago. Smiling as I begin the task at hand, I cherish the memory of my innocence and joy fills me as I recall that little girl that is now, long gone.

I would hear the sound… almost like an echo through the house and knew at once that my mother was going to make beans. My excitement was not over this meal that was coming my way, as I had long ago tired of them and really wished that this was instead, her pouring them down into the trash as we now were among the families with great money who no longer had to eat this pot of beans for days. No, that was not the reason at all. So why did I drop all toys or chores and run into the kitchen?

Looking back now, knowing how my childhood was, perhaps there was a deep desire to have this connection with my mother. Hanging out in the kitchen together, watching her prepare a meal with love and nurturing, slaving for a few hours over the pot of soup-like substance that would feed us for the next few days, growing thicker and less beanlike as the days would go on. No, that was not it even though I am now very happy to own those few cherished moments of us so “normal” back then.

I watched as her hands sorted through the beans, preparing them for soaking. I watched as she would use several fingers at a time and move them into the bowl, some to the side as discarded. I would see her concentrate and I would grow so very quiet. I didn’t want to mess up her concentration, her “counting of the beans” as I believed she was doing. I would try to count too and now and then over this process of what seemed like an hour of counting, something would distract me like a favorite commercial or a neighbor child coming out to play. I would lose track but I never asked her where we were at in the counting because I was afraid I would mess up her count as well and she would be angry. So I would just go on and count where I thought we were. When she was finished I would ask her very quietly, “How many beans today?” She would always look at me for a moment very still and puzzled and say, “A pot full.”

I wouldn’t question her further but I knew she had counted them. I could see it on her face as she did this task. I knew she knew the number but never wanted to tell me how many. Maybe she wanted me to count. Maybe it was a mystery. Sometimes I would sneak the bag out of the garbage and try to read the back for clues to how many were in there. Sometimes I would pull another full bag out of the cupboard and try to count them through the plastic. But always, each time the beans were spilled… I would come running to try all over again.

When the beans were cooked, I often would try to count the beans in my bowl as I ate them ever so slowly. Not to savor them, but to try to figure out how many beans were in that pot by how many bowls came out. My mother never spilled the beans on how many, and I never told her I truly believed she was counting them. But when I spill the beans onto the counter to sort them, not for me, but for someone that I love, I can’t help but recall those early childhood days, when even bean counting was a great mystery.

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