on fear and fearing II

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Hey there! Well, I’ve survived my first couple weeks working at Trader Joe’s.  It’s been full of excitement, I thought I was a TJ’s fanatic until we opened.  No, not even close!  I suppose it’s because I’ve never shopped at a TJ’s in a place that hasn’t always had one before.  People have been waiting upwards of 20 years for this place to open in the Dallas area.  I’ve heard so many stories of people road tripping it to various states, stuffing suitcases, paying hundreds of dollars in baggage fees and paying for shipping charges, all to get their TJ’s fix. The cult following is fascinating and the job is pretty fun!  We did just have a recall though, the Valencia salted, creamy peanut butter has been linked to several cases of salmonella.  So if you bought it, bring it back and get a refund!

I’ve been reading a lot lately.  The most interesting book I have come across has to do with my good friend, fear.  It’s called Embracing Fear by Thom Rutledge.  It gave me really great insights into what I have mentioned in an earlier post about fear being a driving force in my life up to this point. It’s crazy because recognizing my fear of failure and my fear of losing my mom and other fears that are tangible was only the first step.  I didn’t even realize exactly how deep my fears went beyond that until I read about it.

So, I’m going to be honest.  I have this very loud, incredibly cruel voice that likes to comment on my looks, personality, or pretty much everything I say or do.  As I close my eyes at night, the voice likes to go over my day–especially if it was a good day—telling me  anything it can to make me feel worthless, stupid, incompetent or weak.  Rutledge calls this voice a bully.  Fitting.

My bully is very, very loud.  So loud, in fact, that it keeps me quiet.  I used to have a very outgoing, opinionated, strong personality.  If you know me today, you know that I am not like that anymore.  Maybe a glint of “classic Kasey” as my mother referred to it, will shine through every so often, but for the most part, I am very different than I was as a child/adolescent.  Something has snuffed out the fire that used to burn in me and I suspect it it’s my bully.

My bully tells me that if something goes wrong I should automatically blame myself, and when I do, the “neurotic fear” kicks into full force  and the emotions of panic, self-loathing, embarrassment and shame take over. He yells at me so loudly that it makes it pretty much impossible to get anything done.  So instead of talking out whatever is wrong, or sticking up for myself, I’ve just said nothing and let whatever it is sit and fester until I can finally bury it deep down inside.  Rather than deal with confrontation, I would rather just go with the flow or try and keep a low profile to avoid all the feelings that my bully tells me will come along with saying anything.

Last time I wrote about fear I spoke of the danger of becoming complacent out of fear of branching out and being rejected or failing.  All kinds of real danger also  comes from not recognizing the Bully for what he is.  He isn’t my healthy conscience letting me know valid fears, he’s a BULLY that instills neurotic fear, for no reason.  Learning to separate and recognize my BULLY from my actual thoughts, from my healthy  conscience has already changed my outlook on life.

Don’t get me wrong, the thoughts do not go away.  But recognizing the thoughts for what they are gives me an advantage because now, I can just tell my bully to shut the hell up! Rutledge encourages people who struggle with fear like I do to ask themselves “are you willing to risk it?” I definitely am, if it means I can finally be myself again.

There were lots of really great little “nutshells” in this book.  I’m not a quotes person, as a true cynic, I generally  find them really cheesy and trite, but these were a different story, I guess because they actually apply to me.  I hung them up on my mirror and I read them every morning as a reminder that I’m in charge, not my fear.

“Humility is the awareness that I am neither better nor worse than anyone else.”

“Refuse to participate in the perpetual abuse cycle within my own consciousness.”

“Measure strength according to willingness, instead of willpower.”

“To be addicted to control is to be endlessly out of control”

“Growth always moves from the inside out” 

“Courage is to fear as light is to darkness”

I very much doubt this will be my last blog on fear. I want to keep exploring it because,  much like grief, it is something that I feel will always be present and I am determined to get better at dealing with it.  I’d certainly like to hear your thoughts on this, and if anyone else out there  experiences this.  Til next time.

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