“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” ~Franklin D. Roosevelt
It sounds contrary but one of the hardest challenges we face in life is to simply live in our own skin! How many of us criticize ourselves unfairly or wish we could have a different life? How many of us have a hard time being right here, right now in the moment, regardless of where or who we are? Too often we needlessly distract ourselves with anything and everything to mask dealing with ourselves: food, alcohol, shopping, television, tabloid news, Internet, social networks, video games, cell phones, iPods, etc.! Then we come to find out the problem we have avoided gets even worse.
We use compulsive work, compulsive exercise, compulsive eating and obsessive love affairs (just to name a few) to escape from ourselves and the realities of living and dealing with ourselves and our fears. In fact, many of us will go to great lengths to avoid the feeling of being alone. Therefore, we succumb to hanging-out with just about anybody to avoid the feeling of solitude. If we’re alone, we have to deal with ourselves and the feelings that surface: fear, anxiety, happiness, anger, joy, resentment, disappointment, anticipation, sadness, excitement, despair and so on.
It doesn’t really matter if our feelings are positive or negative – feelings can be and usually are overwhelming and exhausting to deal with and so we prefer to numb ourselves to them. The bottom line is that every one of us is an addict and what we are addicted to is avoiding ourselves and the fears we have about living. Acknowledging this addiction is the first step to healing it. If you start by noticing without judgment all the ways in which you avoid being in your own skin, right here, right now, in this present moment, you can begin to heal what it is that you avoid so you can start living again – fully in the moment.
Here are eight reasons why we live in fear:
- Avoiding pain and defeat.
Don’t run from the realities of the present moment. The pain and defeat contained within is necessary to our long-term growth. Remember, there is a difference between encountering defeats and being defeated. It counts and matters most in how we deal with the defeat not the amount of defeats we face. Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know, so we can move on to the next step. Bottom line…face your fear and deal with your pain, there is no way around it except through!
- Holding on to what’s no longer there.
Some of us spend the vast majority of our lives reliving or recounting past memories and letting them steer the course of the present. Don’t waste your time trying to live in another time and place. Let the past go, it doesn’t exist except in your mind! You must accept the end of something in order to begin to build something new. Endings can be sad but beginnings are so much more exciting! Give yourself permission to close old doors, they no longer serve you in your present; not because of pride, inability or egoism but simply because you’ve experienced each one of them already in the past and you cannot grow as a person by staying there and lets face it, you often feel pain by trying to hold onto it.
- Retelling a self-defeating story.
If we continue to repeat a story in our head, we eventually believe that story and embrace it – whether it empowers us or not. So the question is: Does your story empower you? Don’t let your mistakes occupy your mind; the weight of those mistakes may crush your current potential. Instead, place them under your feet and use them as a platform to view the horizon. Remember, all things are difficult before they are easy. What matters the most is what you start doing now.
- Attempting to fit in by becoming someone else.
The hardest battle you’re ever going to fight is the battle to be you, just the way you are in each moment of your changing life. We cannot find ourselves if we are always searching for or transforming into someone else. In this crazy world that’s trying to make us like everyone else, find the courage to BE YOU and keep being YOU. You never know how many others you influence to be themselves because you had the courage to be you!
- The picture in your head of how it’s supposed to be.
What often screws us up the most in life is the picture in our head of how we feel “it’s supposed to be.” Every good thing has an end in life and every ending is just really a new beginning. Remember, we usually cannot choose the music life plays for us, but we can choose how we dance to it. Get rid of the “Should’s, Could’s and Would’s!” Just accept things the way they are and go with the flow of it.
- Criticizing yourself for not being perfect.
I’m guilty of this one as I know many others are too! Don’t be hard on yourself period! There are plenty of people willing to do that for you. Do your best and surrender the rest. Tell yourself, “I am doing the best I can with what I have in this moment and that is all I can expect of anyone, including me.” Love yourself and be proud of everything that you do, even your mistakes. Mistakes aren’t really mistakes, they are really lessons and it means you are trying. Be gentle in your words to yourself and thank yourself for all that you do.
- Waiting for the perfect time.
Stop waiting for tomorrow – you will never get today back. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past. It doesn’t matter how low or unworthy you feel right now. The simple fact that you’re alive makes you worthy. Life is too short for excuses. Stop settling, stop procrastinating. Start today by taking one courageous step forward. If you are not sure exactly which way to go, it is always wise to follow your heart.
- The fear of missing out.
If you feel anxious because you constantly feel like you’re missing out on something happening somewhere else, you’re not alone. We all feel this way sometimes. But let me assure you, you could run around trying to do everything, and travel around the world and always stay connected, and work and party all night long without sleep but you could never do it all. You will always be missing something. So let it go and realize you have everything right now. The best in life isn’t somewhere else; it’s right where you are at this moment. Celebrate the fact that you are alive right now and celebrate this moment you’ve been given! Celebrate who you are because who you are is absolutely perfect and worthy in every way!