“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.” ~ Steve Jobs
“The components of anxiety, stress, fear, and anger do not exist independently of you in the world. They simply do not exist in the physical world, even though we talk about them as if they do.” ~ Wayne Dyer
How much of your life is spent in fear? Do a quick scan – every time you are anxious about the future, get upset about something that might happen, expect the other shoe to drop, or ruminate about past events then you are spending lots of your precious time in fear. So what can you do to change this vicious spiral?
Close your eyes and visualize yourself holding two magnets; one is labeled FEAR and the other is labeled HAPPINESS. The magnets turn on when you look at them. So the more you look at the FEAR magnet the more it pulls what you don’t want into your life. So, if all you have to do is to avert your eyes from the FEAR magnet and lock onto the HAPPINESS magnet then why don’t we? Here’s the big secret:
Fear has a hypnotic effect on us because it is so primal!
Fear has served us well throughout our ancestry. We needed to know when to run and when it was safe to put our kids down for the night. Over the centuries we have entwined fear and intuition and believe they are connected. They are easy to tell apart – fear screams and intuition whispers. But fear’s primal nature is so hypnotic because of the delicious sense of adrenaline it provides.
Underneath all fear is an undercurrent of adrenaline that keeps us on the hook. This combo makes fear feel alive and exciting in our lives, even though the subject matter is not what we want to bring in to our life.
This adrenaline makes our fears seem alive in our lives even before the actual event comes to pass. It is this quick flash of immediate adrenaline that keeps our eyes locked on our FEAR magnet.
I have a client who was magnetizing her fears with her boyfriend. She would have fear dreams where he would cheat on her. Then she would tell him about the dreams and get overly anxious when he was friendly to other women and female co-workers. She was feeding her fears and creating what she didn’t want by dousing him in her anxieties. Her boyfriend was totally committed to her, and wanted them to move in together. So in reality he was not pulling away in any manner, but her fear prevented her from moving forward.
Fears are False Illusions Appearing Real so her reality was very positive with this man; she was just unable to see it because she was mesmerized by what she didn’t want. Her fear had a stronger emotional hold on her than her happiness.
Looking at our HAPPINESS magnet just doesn’t feel as immediately exciting, so it doesn’t hold our attention as well. We tend to rein in our excitement until we are sure a good event will come to pass. Haven’t you ever heard the saying, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch?” The trick to turning this cycle around is to move the powerful, good feelings linked to your HAPPINESS magnet into your today, even before the event has happened.
It will take some reprogramming, but start by revving up your imagination so you feel the rush of good feelings surrounding an event long before it happens. This is crucial because we will gravitate to the strongest feeling, regardless if it is good or bad. That’s the magnetic aspect.
So in this example, instead of being so attracted to the fear scenario, my client needs to shift her attention and feelings to a happiness scenario. So, it would look like this as an option:
Instead of worrying about things that might go bad with her boyfriend, she could focus on the all the things that she is grateful for about him and their relationship. But to make this very present in her day she must write down 3 things she’s grateful for every day. And then she must feel the gratitude. She can keep this going by looking at her list 3-4 times a day.
This re-patterning might take some time before it feels natural, but it is essential to making your shift.
Replace your deep fried platter of fear with an even better dish – the delicious anticipation of happiness. You just need to re-train your brain to feel your good emotions prior to the events; this will override the adrenaline addiction of fear. Since practice makes it easier, look for all the opportunities your day brings you to practice this technique.
[This article is a reprint of my September 2012 Living Well column in Natural Triad.]