Finding Hidden Fears is a Bit Like Counting Blessings
Once you start to think about them, more of them appear.
I have been talking to my kids this week about holidays I used to go on as a child. I grew up in South London and holidays were often to places in the countryside like the ones near where I now live in Yorkshire. On those holidays we had many dramas involving fields which contained cows. My sister refused to go through them because she was scared of the cows. I, on the other hand, was quite happy about the cows. I didn’t stop to think about whether they were dangerous or not. I just decided to do the opposite of what she was doing.
Like the time we actually went abroad and stayed in a little overnight hotel in France en route to our campsite. My sister and I were to share a room and she refused to sleep in the bed that had a cockroach trap under it. I obliged - surely you would want the bed with the cockroach trap as opposed to one without it?
This led me to thinking that I have over the years actually been terrified of other, less tangible things: criticism, judgement, ridicule, rejection, which led to me effectively hiding. While on one level I tell myself I don’t care what other people think of me, on another level that is so untrue, I deeply care because like everyone else in the world, I want to be liked so the fear of not being liked can become very restricting. There is really only one way to find out.
Finding hidden fears is a bit like counting blessings. Once you start to think about them, more and more things appear. Which is great if you’re counting blessings and see a big mountain of wonderfulness grow in front of you. But when it comes to noticing hidden fears, it is a bit like bracing yourself behind a door upon which the enemy is gathering force. Like the ‘hold the door’ scene in Game of Thrones (which I only watched in lockdown earlier this year).
So what to do with all these fears that are trampling on your life and battering down your door?
Well, as a fictional therapist in a novel I’m working on, says to her client about recovering from a previous bad relationship: “You have to allow him to pass through, if you keep holding him at the door, it will only get heavier.”
Do we allow fear to pass through us, or do we pass through the fear? It doesn’t matter as long as we merge with it in either direction.
By looking at the reward.
Take some time to write about or draw yourself in a current or future situation. Do it twice; once for if you stay behind the fear, holding the door, and once for if you come out the other side of it. What reward will you have if you let it pass through you?
It could be peace of mind, a new friendship, a holiday or a better career. Or, as in my eight year old son’s case - a chocolate brownie - I’ll explain:
We recently visited a favourite play park of his. It was his first choice of outing after having to isolate for three weeks due to us all contracting coronavirus from their school. Once we were there he didn’t want to go on anything. He hovered around me complaining he was bored and asking if we could go yet. My daughter had bumped into a friend she hadn’t seen for a while and wasn’t ready to leave. I asked my son why he didn’t want to go on the slide. It is a tunnel slide made of metal which comes down in a curve from a large wooden structure, the whole play park is wood and is made from the beautiful woodland in which it is set. He shook his head.
I confess I bribed him with a chocolate brownie. It had been a long day and I was ready for a cup of tea. I said I would buy him one if he went on the slide just once. So he did.
Then he went on it again and again and again, he couldn’t get enough of going on the slide. He has been too scared to go on the slide for the last two years (when it has been open). Once he focused on the reward, he did the scary thing and realised what he had been missing out on - FUN!
So he had great fun on the slide AND he got a chocolate brownie.
When you have written or drawn (or both) the scenarios of you staying scared or going through the fear, create an image of the reward. Focus on it. Let the reward grow big and the fear shrink so it is tiny. Imagine yourself enjoying the chocolate brownie. It will help.
I’ll end with another confession: When I first started writing these articles, I was terrified about posting them. I checked everything several times, dreading the possibility of making a mistake or offending someone or any number of other things that could go wrong. Every time I hit ‘publish’ I’d feel nervous. But, for some reason, I did it, back then telling myself that nobody would probably read it anyway.
A few years on, I love writing them. My reward? The messages of thanks I receive, the knowledge that I have helped. That somebody somewhere has benefitted from my ideas and words and suggestions, the creative exercises.
That is my chocolate brownie and it is absolutely delicious.
Have a great week,
PS I’d love to know if you have overcome any fears and how you rewarded yourself. See you on the other side of them (the view is amazing!) You can let me know HERE.
PPS If you want to explore your creative side and get to know yourself better, my course Creativity for Wellbeing and Happiness is on super special offer at the moment. Usually £197.00 you can grab it for a limited time at just £19.70. Click HERE to find out more. X