Sunday, November 16, 2014

Freedom from Fear




What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Would you give yourself permission to live? What would that look like?



The fear from within is the most persistent, pervasive and worst enemy we each battle. It translates into a fear of life. It compromises our choices and limits our perspectives sometimes without our even knowing it.

I'm not talking about fear of heights or of a tiger lurking to attack. The fears I speak of may begin innocently by watching our role models limit their choices that slowly compromise their ability to live more expansively and more authentically. 

As a result of this conditioning, we may choose careers that are safe, or marry for fear of being alone. For any variety of fears - of not fitting in, of succeeding, of failing, of commitment to ourselves and others, to our dreams and life's passions, we have defined our lives through fear. By modeling our role model’s choices, we have followed the same path.

The Decision

One example was my smart and creative college roommate. She was a brilliant and talented musician, but chose a career in IT simply because her family was financially well off and viewed that as the field that ensured the success and security they envisioned for their daughter.

I’m not saying IT isn’t a career for the creatively intelligent or a viable choice, but I believe she would have made another choice if fear wasn’t a factor. In order to justify her choice, with each example of fear playing out in a negative scenario of a musician who failed, or a starving young pianist waiting tables, she built her case against following her heart. This justification strengthened her fear and kept her pattern of beliefs from being challenged.

My former roommate, Annette, disappeared behind a veil of fear. Although her parents thought they were doing their best, she was living their fears. She further succumbed to society’s dictates of the type of husband to have, car to drive and house to live in suitable for an IT professional living an upper-middle class life style. My once vibrant, outspoken and richly alive roommate had become afraid of not fitting in.

In also keeping with her upper-middle class life, Annette’s self-alienation led to depression. Last I heard, she had prescriptions for tranquilizers, sleeping pills and anti-depressants not uncommonly used in our world of fear. She chose out of fear and lived in fear.

Choosing 

We all choose out of fear in some way or another at different times. We do live in a scary world. Nothing is certain and, in the end, we all suffer the same fate. Our existence is finite; but wouldn’t it be better to live fully knowing the end result?

What will you do with the time between now and then? Will you live fearfully? Will you create a prison of fear? OR will you create an authentic life of meaning?

You have free will and the ability to not be held captive by fear. It truly is a choice. I am not promoting recklessness or harmful living. Quite the opposite, I’m promoting a life of meaning. One of responsibility to yourself and your satisfaction with life.

Of course, we all must respect the boundaries of society, and those of our loved ones. However, those boundaries need not choke the most fundamental human right from us– a life of meaning.

Your Path


Your life is a blank canvas on which to paint your path. You need to confront questions of,  "Now what?" since your life will now be based on your choices.

Begin

If you don’t know where to begin, start small. Build your confidence by making small choices such as what do you want for dinner. I mean really want. 

Next, pay attention to how you feel when you go to the job you don’t like or find just so-so, compared to when you do something that transports you to a place where you find joy and meaning. Start planning from there.

It's not unreasonable to build the life you want while working to phase out the one you have. It takes courage and time to break the fearful patterns which are familiar. The unfamiliar feels like stepping off a cliff into a free fall, but pay attention to the feeling of liberation that accompanies your step out into the void and focus on that until you are able to get your feet back on solid ground.

We all battle fear. I am hoping more and more of us don’t allow fear to dictate choices that lock us into a prison of our own making, and experience the freedom we get living a life where fear does not have the final say in our choices.





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