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“You are the masterpiece of your own life; you are the Michelangelo of your experience. The David that you are sculpting is you.” Dr. Joe Vitale

I read somewhere that the more you love yourself, the less effect fear has on you.  In what has seemed like a slow motion, evolution process, taking years, initiated by a suicide attempt and resulting brain injury, I think, I’ve finally moved out of my longstanding, fear-based existence moving forward as boldly as I can manage which usually amounts to taking tip toe, baby steps into the great unknown.

In The Heart of the Soul: Emotional Awareness, Gary Zukav posits that energy leaves the body, through thinking, speaking, and acting, in one of two ways: as fear and doubt or as love and trust.  As suggested by the Law of Attraction and other philosophies, when a person exudes fear and doubt, it leads to one occurrence and, when a person emits energy as love and trust, a different experience is created.

According to Zukav, when energy exits as fear and doubt, the result is always painful producing anger, jealousy, grief and vengefulness.  Energy released as love and trust produce scenarios yielding gratitude, contentment, and joy.  Experiencing painful emotions is always a signal to you that energy is being discharged as fear and doubt.

Fear is produced when your amygdala, a primitive part of the brain responsible for the fight or flight response, kicks in doing its job ensuring self-preservation.  However, in this day and age, when we are unlikely to encounter a life or death situation, it doesn’t need to be so vigilant.  While Mother Nature was kind enough to program the amygdala with certain fears at birth, we pack on many more, learned from the world around us, the people in our lives and our experiences. When we get that foreboding feeling, we need to ask ourselves if it’s warranted or just an instinctual reaction to the unfamiliar and unknown.  From your brain’s perspective, to get over a fear, you have to expose yourself to it. 

My amygdala has been on high alert most of my life.  I’ve calmed it down with mindfulness practices and by consciously doing that which scares the heck out of me. Those around me have heard me say over and over that “I refuse to live a fear based existence.”  These days, if I’m scared of something, I’ll usually, eventually, take it on because I know there will be a sense of freedom and growth on the other side.

A while back, I attended a social gathering by myself where I only knew one person well with a few people that I could call acquaintances, but barely.  For some, this may be no big deal.  If you’re one of these, I’m in awe of you.  With a speech impairment, from the brain injury/suicide attempt, and social aversion, showing up solo was hard for me – damn hard!  Even before the brain injury, I would’ve gladly rather gone to the dentist.

Upon arriving, I sat in my car not wanting to go inside, asking myself, “Would just making it to the parking lot be good enough?”  I already knew the answer.  If I didn’t go inside, I’d be severely disappointed in myself.  So, pulling on my big girl panties, I took a deep breath and a few more, and, with constant positive self-talk and thought reframing, I braved going inside.  While I didn’t stay long, I can’t say that I enjoyed it, and my amygdala was in turbo mode the whole time, I’m glad that I didn’t chicken out.

Because I over ruled my dread, I know that doing something similar will be easier the next time and even easier after that.  By confronting and moving through fear, the fear subsides because the amygdala learns not to respond as if life or death and, while the alarmed feeling may never disappear completely, it will lessen.

As my amygdala has settled down, so has my life.  Living a fearless life doesn’t mean just recklessly throwing caution to the wind because the two aren’t the same.I have to be very honest with myself to know the difference, sometimes.  To consciously choose actions and thoughts that coincide with desired growth and intentions, even if fear inducing, is always an option.

Through these choices, I am deciding who I want to be.

image source:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/89649959@N00/

10 Comments

  1. Congratulations! I haven’t gotten close to living a fear-free existence. I’m still too worried about irrational things. At least I’m aware it IS irrational, and just habit. I can usually act in spite of the fear. Perhaps I enjoy the adrenaline, so part of me doesn’t want to give up being afraid. hmmm…

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      I wouldn’t say I live a fear free life at all. I just REFUSE to let it rule my life anymore and make big decisions based on avoiding it. Like you, I would miss it as I find it a powerful motivator and a sense of accomplishment always results from facing it. Keeps things interesting, for sure!

  2. Thank you so much for this post. I believe it will be life changing for me in the days ahead.

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Nish, I am glad you found it so helpful! You just never know what seemingly small, insignificant thing can make the light bulb flip on.

  3. I was raised to live in fear and suffered anxiety and depression since I was a teenager. I have to take medication for it. I am now 48 and determined to beat it! It took my voice away and now I am re teaching myself that I don’t half to be afraid anymore! I tell myself one day at a time and that helps. I love your posts as they help me see the other side of fear and I thank you so very much <3
    I hope to one day help others over come the fear that was put in them when they didn't have the power to know the difference <3

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Thanks for commenting, Cindy. I, too, learned to be fearful of the world. It is such an unhappy, limiting existence which we can totally change just by changing our thinking patterns Now, I didn’t say it was easy, but it CAN be done! And, it keeps life interesting, that’s for sure! In some ways, I feel like a kid again or a baby bird just learning to fly. I am damned determined to soar. I will see you in the clouds because you are gonna be up there too!

      Thank you so much for your kind words and support. I want others to know that they can change their lives for the better. If I did it, anyone can! 🙂

  4. You are such a great inspiration and role model for others who have been beset by circumstances that they though were beyond their control. I love the posts. Keep them coming.

    • Thank you so much, Tony! The best teachers are those who have learned from experience, huh? And, you met me back in the middle of my recovery. So, you know how far I’ve come. I appreciate your support!! 🙂

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