Early in life you had two primary motivations: to survive and not to be abandoned. Primarily, you learned to be acceptable and to wear an “adaptive” mask in order to manage your fears. Hence, the result can be a lifetime dance with fear and faith.
If you accept that your thoughts create your reality, then one of the major problems with unconscious fear (anxiety below the surface) is that the brain can be dancing in a state of constant anticipation of negative experiences, reacting to life rather than responding to it.
From a standpoint of evolution, this act was probably designed to protect you, yet holding on to a low-grade fever of fear can certainly undermine the quality of your life.
Here are some steps to practice thinking differently and coming from faith rather than fear:
1. Holding awareness is the key to escaping cycles of fear. Pay attention to your “inner voice” and release any negative thoughts by reminding yourself that all is well. Recognize that constantly anticipating the worst case scenario is not helpful, but rather is harmful.
2. Recognize when you are reacting rather than responding and check to see whether or not any of your thoughts about potential outcome are really warranted.
3. Ask a person you trust to help you look at your expectations while teasing out what is real and not real.
4. A coach or supportive friend can help you to have a safe environment in which to explore being you and to shift your perceptions.
5. Decide that you can handle life and you will be able to.
6. Decide what positive things you DO want to create in your life and give energy to that vision.
7. Hold a positive outlook overall (“like attracts like”), and remember that while fear disrupts your focus, hope enhances and focuses your attention.
8. Imagine a positive outcome in all your situations.
9. Spend at least five minutes per day daydreaming about the great life you desire as you bring it into being!
10. Re-frame your fear by looking through the lens of FAITH!
Your soul’s essence is connectedness, and it thrives on relationship. Ancient people knew this instinctively and recognized that their survival depended upon each other—-they needed to cooperate to thrive in their world.
When we understand that we are related to every form of life on this planet and we become a partner with the Universe, we can then begin to act on behalf of our world.
So whether it is your co-worker, partner, or relative–or the stranger in another country–you will respond differently to others when you feel a sense of connectedness rather than separation. In fact, when I teach in Japan, I have learned that it is believed that “all pain is a result of separation”–whether that separation occurs in your community, family, or in your body.
When we remember the value of oneness and cooperation, we begin to look at one another differently. We find that our lives become calmer, and we are less attached to specific outcomes.
As a result, we can decide to give up arguing—-one argument at a time.
We can choose to be peaceful rather than right.
Today, I was reminded of one of my favorite Native American legends and wanted to share it with you:
One evening an old Cherokee chief told his grandson about life.
He said, “My son, a fight is going on inside me. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.”
“One is evil–he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego.”
“The other is good–he is joy, peace, love, hope,
serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”
“This same fight is going on inside you–and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old chief simply replied, “The one you feed.”
-A Cherokee Legend-
In order to manifest your greatest potential, it is necessary to have effective boundaries—to know where you begin and end; to do what you wish to do and not what you believe is expected of you (something that often creates resentment); to give with real love and not because giving is expected. In coaching, I sometimes encounter what I call “common boundary myths” among my clients. Do any of these ideas seem familiar to you? Myth #1: If I set boundaries, I will hurt others. If you set boundaries, you may fear that your limits will hurt someone else, particularly someone who seems to really need you. For example, let’s say a friend needs you to do a favor for her—but this favor greatly impacts your plans for free time which you have very little of and desperately need for your own balance. You are kind to this friend and often help her. In reality, appropriate boundaries don’t control or hurt anyone. Saying no to this person who is responsible for getting her own needs met really doesn’t hurt her. She may have to seek elsewhere to have her needs met, but the question is more for you: Are you okay not being the one who is rescuing or helping her? Are you okay not being the one who is needed? Often, poor boundaries result when a person has a need to feel needed or to be a rescuer of others. Myth #2: If I set boundaries, I am being selfish. One of my clients indicated that she had a deep-seated fear of being selfish, of being interested in her own concerns over those of others. Her mother had instilled in her a belief that putting herself last was important if she wished to be loving and kind. Interestingly, having appropriate boundaries actually increases our ability to care for others. When we give with full awareness and conscious choice, we value ourselves and the other person in the process. We make a choice to give because it is what we want to do, not what we believe we must do. If a lack of boundaries causes us to mismanage our own energy, our own soul, then saying no is an important way to protect ourselves and each other. Myth #3: If I set boundaries, I may be rejected. Often we participate in “people pleasing” as a way to be loved. We may fear that we are not nice enough and that, as a result, someone may reject or leave us. This can create a false presence in that we are presenting one way and yet feeling another. We may even end up feeling resentful. Having good boundaries with others is a necessary and natural component in all effective relationships.
Your breathing patterns reflect your engagement with your world. As a certified Breathwork practitioner, I was trained to evaluate a person’s breathing patterns, understanding that the “in-breath” is considered “our will” (our connection with life) and the “out-breath” (or exhale) is considered to represent our relationship to God’s will (the process of surrendering and letting go). Interestingly when a person is anxious or trying to control life, he or she typically has a short exhale pattern.
Throughout the day, check in with your breathing. Is it shallow and tight? Are you tense, angry, anxious, or relaxed? If so, it is most likely reflected in your breathing. You might even be holding your breath as a way not to feel your emotions, particularly if they are negative.
Your breathing serves to connect you with yourself and others, so that not breathing fully can be an unconscious defense mechanism for disconnecting from emotions you’d rather not feel. Even though shallow breathing can lessen your ability to feel your emotions, it can also repress them so that you create a pressure cooker of emotions internally, creating dis-ease in the body.
To promote better health:
- Check in with your breathing periodically throughout the day. Are you taking short, shallow breaths or is your breathing deep and relaxed?
- Decide what you have going on emotionally and how does your breathing at that moment might reflect this?
- If you realize that your breathing is shallow, take deeper breaths and check in with how you are feeling.
- Are you able to expand the lower abdomen as you breathe in, opening the lower chakras with the breath? (A chakra is an energy center in the body. My energy medicine teacher, Caroline Myss, suggested that all disease originates in blockages in the first 3 chakras.)
With every inhalation, mentally reinforce that you are opening your body to a healthy flow of energy. The dance of your breathing will tell you much about your relationship to life!