In order to be empowered and placed in the position to custom design your own destiny, you must remove fear from your behavior. Fear is a destructive and limiting state of mind that manifests itself as an emotion. This negative feeling is a product of our mind and is the end product of poor programming. Just as we discussed in concerning the concept of changing beliefs, fear must also be dissected from our psyche. Fear is an uneasiness of the mind composed of thoughts and it is usually an exaggeration of reality. Whether these are morbid fantasies or well-established facts, it is our interpretation of them that creates the fear reaction. One can then describe fear as an invisible force composed of certain negative and insecure thoughts that surface as an emotion.
There are many types of fears. The most global fear is the fear of becoming afraid. All fears are acquired. Whatever the mind can conceive, it can achieve, including the ability to create or remove fears. Some fears appear to be based on facts or circumstances beyond your control. In reality, your beliefs and your subconscious mind’s programming does have the innate ability to exert control over these factors. That is what empowerment is all about. If you act as a victim to these alleged beyond-your control factors, anguish, despair and terror will be experienced.
Your subconscious mind always has a hand in creating your reality, I classify fear as a force because it can lead us to do things that become an SDS. There are two types of people affected by fear enough for it to be manifested as an SDS. The first type is a high-strung type A personality. These individuals are very suggestible and exaggerate most everything in their lives, usually to the negative. Most of their fears are imagined.
The second type is a normally healthy and well-balanced soul who is usually immune to such fears. Occasionally, due to severe loss or real threat to his or her safety, a fear is established. This fear may now be exaggerated as it was in the case of the type A, but this particular fear mechanism in our second type of individual is based on actual facts. In both of these types of people, imagination runs havoc with logic and rational thinking. It is not difficult to see the role of emotions in this process. “The world is coming to an end,” or “I’ll die if so and so doesn’t get off my back” are examples of this syndrome. In either case, nothing short of a miracle will solve the dilemma.
This chapter concerns itself with fears more than phobias. Although these concepts apply equally to phobias, phobias are even more debilitating. A phobia is an irrational fear and as a retired dentist with thirteen years of practice in that health specialty, I can attest to the effects of these neuroses.
The most important aspect of fear can be applied to its removal. That factor is imagination. Imagination is what transforms a harmless factor in one’s environment to a feargenerating stimulus. Take the example of young children who sleep well at night until they see a horror movie on television or in the movie theater. Now they are afraid of the dark and shriek at the top of their lungs at any shadow or strange sound, real or imagined. It is not always possible to change the facts associated with our fears. What can be accomplished is an alteration in the response to these facts. There are three possible outcomes to the real facts surrounding your fear.
One possibility is that you will be significantly encumbered and never achieve the happiness you seek. In other words, failure is inevitable. Another option is that the disaster you agonize so much about now is not nearly as bad as you suspect.
The last possibility involves empowerment. Circumstances now end up being a blessing in disguise. This event somehow stimulates tapping into your reserves of inner strength and you rise above the setback not unlike the Phoenix rising out of its own ashes. There is a story I heard the comedian Buddy Hacket relate to Johnny Carson, when the latter hosted the Tonight Show. Buddy was a young comic working in a New Jersey nightclub during the 1950s. He played to a packed house every night. One night the club owner fired Buddy without giving him a reason. The club’s attendance was still breaking records on the night of Buddy’s dismissal. Years later while headlining in Atlantic City, Buddy noted his old boss sitting in the front row. He had the club invite this former employer to Buddy’s dressing room after the show. When Buddy Hacket asked his former boss why he fired him, the answer astounded him. This New Jersey club owner nicely informed Buddy that he knew Buddy was too good for his “joint.” If he had not fired Buddy, he might very well have been still working there. We could all use the friendship and wisdom of Buddy Hacket’s former boss.
The many emotional consequences of fear often result in mistakes. Fear can literally exhaust one in body and mind. It can render you incapable of effective action or thought. Fear can add to an incapacity already present, or induce a new one entirely on its own. It can rob you of power and prevent you from acquiring power.
As far as the mind is concerned, fear commonly leads to confusion, indecision, loss of willpower, emotional shocks poor concentration and faulty memory. It can drive a person to depend on illegal drugs and alcohol. Other effects include interfering with one’s job, preventing one from embarking on new adventures, and causing all forms of mood swings from anxiety to depression.
Fear also exerts an effect on our physical body. It can cause disorders in our circulatory, respiratory and digestive systems. Fear may cause excessive sweating, sexual dysfunction (impotency and premature ejaculation in men and frigidity in women), headaches, loss of appetite and weight, profound exhaustion, speech defects, loss of muscle control, paralysis and psychosomatic pain. In short, fear can make you a slave to dysfunctional symptoms and behavior.
Hypnosis And Fear Removal
One way to remove a fear is through the use of hypnotic suggestion. Since your mind created the fear in the first place by accepting negative suggestions and programming from the outside world, why not reverse this process? Your mind will respond to anything it receives, as long as the suggestion does not violate your moral or ethical code. Imagination and a suspension of your belief system are used to produce the effects of self-hypnosis. The basic self-hypnosis exercise. I did not create those relaxation feelings you felt; you did. Every type of fear you can name owes its existence to imagination. We define imagination as the creative component of our mind. It is that faculty whereby we produce mental pictures by visualizing forecasts of what the future holds, or, for that matter, pictures of what we feel the past held or the present is holding.
Here is a simple exercise you can do to use imagination to lessen your fears. Write the following message on a 3×5 index card:
When you read this message at bedtime, while holding this card in your hand, you will experience a natural tendency to drop this card. It will drop, and with the act of dropping this card goes the fears you currently possess. Soon you will free yourself of these former fears and now you will be able to function as the empowered person you were always meant to be. Practice reading this to yourself just before you retire for the evening. At first glance I know you think this method hasn’t got a snowball’s chance in hell of working. It won’t take much of an effort to test this theory. One of my patients overcame a fear of abandonment she had for fifteen years, by using this technique.
You can try this exercise at any time during the day, but bedtime is the most efficient start. Just before retiring, your imagination is more easily aroused. You will use your imagination quite a bit during the REM (dream) cycle at night, which totals three hours. When the card drops out of your hand, and it will, you will go to sleep more easily. Your mind now concedes that something has happened. If you can program your mind to drop the card, what other wonders can suggestion do? As insomnia is common with fearful people, the good night’s rest alone is worth the effort.
Social Manifestations Of Fear
We live in a civilized society. It is rather difficult to custom design your own destiny if you are afraid of people. Like it or not, you must learn to get along with and be comfortable with all sorts of people if you expect to succeed in life.
Here are some examples of fear of the unknown involving other people:
• Avoiding social contact at a gathering because you fear that everyone else is smarter, more cosmopolitan, more skillful, more talented and so on. You refrain from participating in conversations and just observe others, being anxious all the while.
• You hang onto one person all evening at a party because you feel safe. It may be easy to relate to this individual, but your real motive is fear of being rejected by others.
• You are afraid to ask for help in your job or school because you don’t want others to be aware of your ignorance on some minor point.
• Your social life consists of seeing the same people or couples over and over due to your fear of meeting new people.
The previous examples do result in certain dysfunctional payoffs:
• By removing the unknown from your life, you are keeping your fears of the unknown to a minimum. It is always “safer” to avoid the unknown. Unfortunately, growth is now impossible, and so is empowerment.
• You can rationalize your motives by saying it’s the “right thing,” or adult thing, to stay with the familiar. In reality it is an action determined by fear and insecurity.
• By keeping your life as routine as possible, you eliminate the need to think on your feet. All you need do is function by reflex and simply repeat past behavior patterns and responses.
• Decide now to take a risk on something relatively minor that may involve failure, but offers a significant reward.
• Try something within the next week that you have been avoiding for several years. Do not be concerned about whether you succeed at this task. Just do it.
• Purposely try something new. This could be ordering a different meal at your favorite restaurant, or buying a totally different outfit at your regular clothing store.
• Eliminate the fear of having to explain your actions for everything you do. Purposely do something that a family member, friend or business associate will comment on. Say to them, “I just felt like doing this, and I don’t care to tell you why.”
• Take an unplanned vacation (no maps or reservations). Talk with an acquaintance that you have purposely avoided because of fear of that person’s reaction to you.
• Focus your awareness on something foreign to you as you are performing this task. Acknowledge the fact that you might not do this task correctly at first, but that is OK. The first step in mastering the unknown and removing its fear is awareness.
• Confront those people in your life whom you fear the most. Tell them you have feared them in the past and work out your differences, or simply enlist their assistance.
Fear of failure is most often the fear of someone else’s disapproval or ridicule. If you let them have their own opinions, you can begin to evaluate your behavior in your own terms rather than theirs. You’ll come to see that your abilities are simply different, not better or worse than others.
• Confront yourself with the fact that your fears are out of proportion to the reality of the possible consequences. Use the expression, “What’s the worst thing that could happen to me?” to drive this point home.
• Invite a group of people to your home who are relative strangers and who represent a wide variety of viewpoints. Do not invite your usual clique of friends and keep this gathering as unpredictable as possible.
The entire process of overcoming fears begins with new beliefs, attitudes and changes in previous avoidance behaviors. This is followed by actively challenging old systems and people and moving on in new functional directions. Growth begins when you conquer fear.
Hope will now sprout, and you will develop a sense of personal power. Insomnia and other psychosomatic complaints will disappear, and the energy wasted on worrying thoughts will now be diverted to other channels and used to better effect. The thought, “I can and I will win through,” instead of “I’ll never pull through,” will develop in you, and give you the strength to deal with the world you live in and lay a solid foundation for custom designing your own destiny.