Fear versus Love
Hi and Welcome to Issue #030 of Devine Online!
Do you ever say to yourself: 'If I could just be worry-free, THEN I’d be happy'? Well, I have good news and bad news. Firstly, here’s the bad news: ‘Worry free’ doesn’t exist. I’ll explain why in a moment, but before I do that, I'd like to give you the good news; you are not your fears; you CAN transcend them. Let me explain how:
We are Hardwired for Fear
It’s true! In Dan Baker’s book ‘What Happy People Know’, he explains in detail the concept that our brains are actually hard-wired for fear. The short explanation is that evolution ensured that we have a “neurological fear system” that resides deep in our brains. Once upon a time, this fear system was not only useful, it was crucial to our survival.
What used to help us survive is now slowly killing us. We worry about anything and everything, to the detriment of our lives and our health. So if you’ve ever wondered what life would be like if you could just stop worrying about that ‘thing’ that consumes you, well here’s the truth: whatever the ‘IT’ is that is causing you stress in your life will ultimately be replaced with another ‘IT’ further down the track…..that’s just how we are programmed.
Another way to explain this concept is that if you’re not worrying about one thing, your mind will come up with something new for you to worry about. Scary isn’t it? Well, it doesn’t have to be. Through learned optimism and understanding where your fears come from, you can transcend your deepest nightmares and start living.
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Fear of Not Having Enough
Dan Baker’s book explains that our fear of not having enough is part of our survival instinct, and that no matter how much ‘stuff’ we accumulate, our innate sense of lack will always keep us wanting more. Have you ever heard yourself saying: 'If I could just make X amount of money per month, I’d feel secure'?
Invariably when you do reach what you perceive to be your desired level of income, you alter your lifestyle accordingly, and after the novelty wears off, you discover that your current level of income is NOT enough after all...and that you 'need' more! Sound familiar? This is what Baker describes as one of the most common happiness traps – the notion that you can buy your way to happiness.
Now, this is a concept that has been bandied around for years. And I bet you’ve said to yourself '....yeah, that theory that money can’t buy happiness may be true for other people, but not for me!'. Well here are the cold hard facts: It IS true for you, and the new science of happiness proves it. Studies have shown that wildly wealthy people are only marginally happier than those who are living just above the poverty line.
And if you think that rich people don’t worry, think again. Rich people worry about losing their fortune even more that you worry about paying your bills. That’s the truth, and the key to lasting happiness is recognizing this; that no matter how much you have, your in-built survival mechanism will keep you from feeling secure; unless of course you can find a way to beat it at its own game.
Fear of Not Being Enough
The second category that Baker mentions in his book is the fear of not being enough. Do you worry about not being thin enough,
pretty enough, or not having the right friends? Do you continually compare yourself unfavourably to other people? Well on some level we’re all vulnerable to this fear, because as human beings, we all want to be liked. Our need to belong keeps us in a constant stream of tension.
My job as a therapist is to help people to
accept themselves as they are right now. Part of that process is to help you move from ‘needing’ to be liked to ‘wanting’. Like I said before, we all want to belong. But the pressure comes off when we can say 'I’d really be pleased if that person liked me, but if they don’t, I’m okay with that, and it doesn’t change who I am as a person’.
So the gist of what I’m trying to say is don’t try to ‘fight’ your fears. Instead, acknowledge that you have them and that this is natural and normal. You have an inflated fear response that you don’t need, so now it’s about bringing those fears to the surface and finding out what real purpose they serve in your life.
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Rise Above it
The problem with most people is that they are obsessed with controlling their lives. In reality we have no control. The only thing we can be certain of in life is that we are going to die one day. We don’t know how, and we don’t know when. As I’ve mentioned many times before, the more we try to control something, the less in control we feel.
So what’s the solution? It’s about managing your life; accepting that bad things are sometimes going to happen, and that happiness is not about being blissful all the time. The negative experiences we have in our lives are usually the ones that teach us the most valuable lessons, and you need to know what the opposite of happiness is so that you can recognise happiness when you do experience it.
Dan Baker says that the two parts of the brain called the brain stem and the amygdala evolved over a million years ago, and back then they were very helpful because nearly all threats to survival were physical. It is in these parts of the brain that most of our fear response resides, wreaking havoc on our lives and threatening our health and happiness.
Lucky for us though, we also have a third part of the brain called the neocortex, which is the physical site of the human spirit. It links with our intuition and our subconscious, and allows us to transcend our fears. By transcendence I mean logically examining our fears; holding them up to the light and saying: 'Is this fear really appropriate in my life right now'? 'Do I need this fear or can I let it go?'
This amazing power we have allows us to rise above the inflated fear response and live happier lives. I’ll drink to that!!
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So there you have it! I hope you enjoyed this issue of Success Express...have a great day!
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