Sunday, February 6, 2011

Creating your future and Transcending the Fear

It’s always great when I find someone reading my blog. I was asked a follow-up question regarding breaking the cycle of fear described in the “Illusion of Fear” blog (dated: 1/29/11). I start with the material from the blog and expand it further.

Step 1: Don’t play the game. The fear is not real.

Remember the fear isn’t real. It may feel real, but it isn’t. Again, very little of the fear we experience is in reality. While it may hurt if someone leaves, or is angry, or doesn’t like us, or we loose our job, or whatever, our actual existence is not called into question.

If you catch yourself playing the game, stop. In this case the game is the various roles of the triangle. Simply stop. No matter how you try, you can’t win at a game of fear. I love the line for the 1980’s move Wargames, “The only winning move is not to play.”” (To watch the scene:

Step 2: Transcend the Fear --Find a bigger goal.

Transcending this fear is possible. One way to do this is to identify values that express what inspires you at your core. It is essential to step outside of the fear and take responsibility for the subsequent choices. I know this is easier said than done. In another blog entry, I highlighted the Litany of Fear.

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain. (Dune, Herbert)

To me, this litany of fear reminds me that the fear is not real, and that if I stand through the fear, only I remain. In that moment I have an opportunity where I can make a choice that expresses my true identity.

Courage is not acting without of fear, it is acting in spite of fear. Continuing the metaphor of the game, the way out of the game of fear is to play a completely different game. The “fun” part of this process is that you get to decide what “new game” you want to play. Instead of fear, play a game of love. Or, play a game of healing, or play a game of wisdom. Every experience becomes an opportunity to express or learn something greater in your life. In other blog entries, I’ve called this “Creating your future.” This concept is not original to me, but has it’s root in viture ethics. Mark Vernon summarizes virtue ethics as:

Virtue ethics begins by asking what it is to be human, and proceeds by asking what virtues — or characteristics, habits and skills — we need in order to become all that we might be as humans. It’s much associated with the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, who discussed the meaning of friendship as a way to illustrate his approach to ethics. … The virtue ethics approach is not individualistic. It tells us that to become all we might be as humans we need others. And we need others in a number of ways. One is highlighted by Aristotle’s focus on friendship. Social animals, like ourselves, are fulfilled by being with others: we discover who we are by discovering who others are — those to whom we are connected by way of family, affection, community, and society. They shape us, and we shape them, and so we need to have a concern for them all. (Link:

Step 3: Other’s as a reflection of your goals

Our task is to define the virtues by which we want to live our life. It is done in community/connection with others. The struggle with virtue ethics is most people don’t know what they are, or are caught up in a dilemma of having to use other people’s opinions of the important virtues. The process of clarifying your values, and the behaviors consistent with those values is the experience of discovering YOUR truth. My experience suggests a client is much more successful when their life that reflects their truth.

Paradoxically, others are the source of the primary values in our life. What we like and dislike in others reflects our inner core. This is a classic psychological principle that also applies to transcending the fear. That which we are drawn to reflects an inner craving that we must address. That which we reject reflects an inner craving that we must address. Whatever we fear is an opportunity to personal growth, discovery and transformation. An open, honest and fearless examination of those reactions is necessary for this discovery. It is then that new possibilities of a transformed life become possible.

We can recognize these values by identifying various pivot points in our life (see blog date: 1/22/11) It is in these pivot points where we get a sense of something more in our life. The experience is rewarding, but isn’t always easy. Sometimes these are values that we have and want to express more; or, it may be values we don’t have and want to obtain.

Step 4: Identifying your values by completing the following assignments.

To begin this process, I give my clients a number of assignments to identify pivot points that can be useful in identifying the values in your life. This assignment will help you to start thinking about something greater in your life. Think “big” about your future. What would a “life you love” look like?. You need to step forward to identify and claim the values that you find important, the values that you will use to shape your life. What works for some people person will not necessarily work for you. We may learn from each other, but our path is uniquely our own.

• Identify three people who inspire you. These people may be real or fictional, living or dead, someone you know, or simply someone you’ve read about. For each person, identify why this person is an inspiration to you. Examine two or three values this person has expressed through their life. As you think about each person, you may start to identify themes that are important to you.

• Name three times when you experienced a sense of timelessness. Some authors describe this as “being in the flow.” In this context, “timelessness” is the experience of time passing without your awareness. Think of a young child playing outside all day. You say to the child “Come in for bed.” To the child, the day passed with a sense of timelessness. They simply were completely in the moment. Describe the settings in which you experienced timelessness, focusing on who, what, when, and where. What words do you use to summarize how these experiences inspire you?

• As you examine the individuals and experiences in your life that are important, make note of common themes, values and experiences. These themes are expressions of your experience of God in your daily life.

• After listing the themes, review each word in a dictionary or Wikipedia. Learn the depth of meaning of these words. Summarize what you learn.

Step 5: Choose

The challenge is to ask yourself, “How willing am I to do whatever it takes to express my values in living?” Our inspirations are often people who, despite their fear, choose actions that express their values. Think of people such as Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi and Mother Theresa. They expressed their values in their daily lives to the degree that the world recognized them as inspiring. You can use your values to shape your choices in a profound way. The key questions are, “Will this behavior protect my values?” and “How do my values shape the next step for me?”

In each moment you face fear, you can succumb to fear and fall into the triangle roles of persecutor, victimizer, or rescuer, or you can choose to engage in behaviors that express your values. When you succeed, life will be amazing. And yes you will fail, and life will be amazing. Perfection is not required, but integrity to YOUR values and truth is how a person lives a life they love. Each moment is an opportunity. Choose.

Books referenced in this text.

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