Tag Archives: Fear

Uncovering the unknown unknowns in life…

27 Mar

icebergI once heard that life is like an iceberg where our current knowledge (what we know we know and what we know we don’t know) is above the surface, while a huge amount of missing knowledge (what we don’t know we don’t know) is like the area underwater.

I’m not quite sure I completely agree with this, but I do know that where I am in life today is so completely different from where I thought I’d be (it is wonderfully better!)

I’m learning that my belief system was (and is) built on what I know from what I’ve experienced thus far in life.  Most of us go through life one day at a time and seldom question just how much “knowledge” is outside of our current situation.  This means that we spend our lives believing that our past and our present are indicators of what our future will look like – and this is like putting blinders and limits on what our future can be.

I’m also learning that “what I don’t know I don’t know” can be absolutely wonderful and can deliver experiences beyond what I once couldn’t even imagine.  These new experiences come about when my mind is open and receptive to people, places, and opportunities I might have once rejected — even before they were presented.  When you turn down a potential opportunity – that has yet to become a real opportunity – you effectively (in my humble opinion) short-circuit the full extent that your life can become.  In other words, when your mind is closed by your current belief system, adventures and opportunities stop before they reach your door.

When I was going through a divorce seven years ago, I had no idea that my life could transform and that I could emerge as a happy, single, midlife female.  I left home directly into a marriage at 22, I thought I was madly in love, and I experienced life with a husband who was much like my father (who has to be right.)  Before my divorce, I had never lived alone, had never selected an apartment, had never taken care of myself, had never nurtured an extensive group of friends, and had little time for myself aside from taking care of my then-husband and children  (now grown) to pursue hobbies or personal interests.  I remember sitting in a counselor’s office before the divorce and she asked me whether I could see myself happy as a single person.  At the time having experienced an adulthood only as a wife, I replied “no” as I truly could not envision the happy, enriched life I enjoy today.

I have to say I didn’t know what I didn’t know – my blinders were on.

parachute

I realize now that I turned down possibilities and opportunities simply by not recognizing that I didn’t know what I didn’t know.  Today I remind myself and friends “don’t say no to something or someone who has yet to present it/him/herself.”

If you’ve ever done any of the things I used to do (out of habit) – it could be that you might be blocking opportunities (and discarding the unknown unknowns) like I did:

– I used to say that I’d never move to another country. Thankfully, I had abandoned this before the opportunity to move to Florida presented itself  or I would have missed out on living 18 years where I do now (and love!)

– If you pre-judge people you don’t know based on their outward appearance which I used to do all the time – I would not have met some of the most wonderful people in my life today.

– If you say you’d never try a particular type of restaurant based on a single food (I used to think I was allergic to curry based on a single type – yet since trying Indian and Thai restaurants have discovered an incredible array of curries I love!)

– If you believe in stereotypes about particular cultures or religions or ethnicities based on what you read in the newspaper or see on a partisan TV show… you may miss out on meeting people who turn out to be lifetime friends.

– If you think that you would never do… (camping, bar-hopping, motorcycle riding, running a marathon, wine-tasting – pick anything that is outside your current experience) – you might miss out discovering a great interest.

– If you think you’ll be rejected if you do/try/think something different from your family (I was raised in a ultra-religious home where it was almost taboo to think beyond the religious dogma!) – try it!

Once I realized that I had some of these self-limiting (and unfounded) beliefs, I discovered that there is so much in the world I didn’t know I didn’t know. Choices Today there are so many choices (especially choices that have yet to present themselves) that I feel like I am running out of time!  I have no idea what countries I might still want to visit, and my “bucket list” is growing by the day as I experience new adventures along life’s journey.

I know I still have a ton of biases, beliefs, and preferences that limit my future – but they are growing less and less as I resist resisting!  There are so many diverse ideas, diverse people, and new ways to view the world (that were beyond my imagination) that my world is expanding.  This is a wondrous thing to find out at mid-life!

Wishing you an uplifting and expansive week!

p.s., I was a guest host on Carmen Brower’s blog talk radio show this week to promote our upcoming True You Discovery retreat (I’m a featured speaker!) at the Tradewinds Resort in St Petersburg Beach, FL May 3-5, 2013.  Won’t you join us?  Here’s the link to the website and promotional FaceBook page.  It will CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

Carol

Fear is a four letter (F) word…

27 Mar

Fear plays a huge part in society today, and our public media knows that creating a frenzy based on fear sells newspapers, increases advertising and makes millions!  Globally, fear is a part of almost every society – and it motivates governments, countries, groups and people to take often irrational actions.  Fear is a scary thing!

Pick up any newspaper or listen in on conversations and you’ll find an increasing (and sometimes irrational) list of fears around us.  It is amazing that we get anything done when this mountain of fears are waiting to block our way:

  • Fear of terrorism (globally – and “we” are not necessarily on the friendly side worldwide);
  • Fear of God and eternal damnation (the religious right think they “know” the future);
  • Fear of differences (the Gay, Lesbian, Transgendered and Bisexuals know this more than others);
  • Fear of the unknown (what if the world ends on December 2);
  • Fear of what we think we know (we believe too much of what we read on the internet);
  • Fear of the past repeating itself (which can paralyze us from taking a change on new things);
  • Fear of new experiences (what if I don’t like it);
  • Fear for our children (what will the world be like in 30 years);
  • Fear of change (this one is wide open!);
  • Fear of turning into our parents;
  • Fear of being alone (how can I live without him/her even though it is bad);
  • Fear of being lonely (will I ever finding true “love”);
  • Fear of not being alone (or being stuck in a bad relationship);
  • Fear of losing our house or job or security;
  • Fear of the future (what if’s);
  • Fear of other religions (we do not understand);
  • Fear of other cultures (how can they live like that);
  • Fear of losing face (what will the neighbors/family/friends think);
  • Fear of loss/gains/failure/success;
  • What fears could you add to this list?

I could go on and on with the phobias and fears in daily life, but there is one item missing on this list:

  • Fear of the four letter “F” word: FEAR !

I believe that so many people feel they live a life that is out of control (and dominated by factors they have nothing to do with), that fear moves in.   By seeking and needing to control aspects of our life that we do not, we sometimes allow (or even create) fear to paralyze us and become the excuse that we don’t take action. Sometimes we even use fear to rationalize our irrational behavior!

Moving forward from our past…

Certainly, our experience plays a big part in our present fear – we want to avoid repeating behaviors that caused us pain in the past – but that is like driving forward by looking in the rear view mirror.  When we are soaring over the cliff (we were not watching for the “bridge out sign” ahead of us), we reassure ourselves that at least we were not rear-ended.

I believe that Fear is a Four Letter “F” Word that has no place in an optimistic vocabulary or our psyche.  Maybe we ought to start to ‘wash out our mouths’ for using this four letter F word?  It simply does us little good, and furthermore it clouds our judgment.

If I allowed my past together with fear to decide my future, I would never go out with another man, I would never trust another friend, I would never move to a foreign land, I would stop trying and dreaming and hoping… and that would be, frankly, irrational!

For me, the only way forward in life is to face my fears like the same way I would confront a bully – with strength, determination, and sheer guts.  My hopes, dreams, thoughts and life is too important (to me) to allow a little four letter F word to run amok.

Have a good week!

Carol

Fear & Excitement – Two Sides of the Same Coin?

10 May

Perhaps you’ve noticed that when a new situation in life arises, you may alternate between fear and excitement of the same unknown future. Most often the fear is unfounded and excitement should prevail, yet our psyche seems to favor punishing us by hanging on to the fear.

Take a new job or career move.  How often do we allow what should be an exciting new adventure (a positive career move) digress into a set of unfounded what-if questions:  What if they find out that I can’t do the job? What if I don’t perform to the level the job demands? What if I’m not as qualified as I portray?

Yet, for all the gloom and doom this entails, we ought to be focusing on the equally positive outcomes.

We ought to ask questions like:  What if the job is too easy and I am ready for the next level quickly?  What if I exceed all expectations?  What if everyone loves my work?

As children we learn to temper disappointments long before they occur and to prepare for negative outcomes (somehow it was supposed to prevent hurt…) and to face our fears.  But seldom is it taught that one should be excited about positive outcomes – yet those are precisely what we want most.

I believe that when we feel fear in a new situation, all we really need to do is to turn it around into an opportunity where we can be excited, and watch the situation turn itself around in our minds!

For example, I’ve never moved out on my own yet I am in middle age!  Having moved from my parents to my marriage and then having stayed in my house since, it is a scary (and exciting) proposition to think about having to move and find a small apartment.  I was feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of having to clean out 4 bedrooms, an office, 3 bathrooms and a 4 car-garage all by myself and find a new place to live (who knows where?) – and I mentioned to a colleague that I was fearful of the process. His response was that it is an exciting new fresh start in my life – and never have I had the opportunity to make decisions for me alone.  “How incredibly excited you must be” were his words.

That’s when I realized that Fear and Excitement are often two sides of the same coin.  From now on, I prefer to nurture an outlook of excitement! How about you?

Have a great week,

Carol

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