October 21, 2013 at 11:31 am #44074JohnParticipant
I recognize that the way I behave is largely influenced by experiences from my past – parents, teachers, bosses, lovers, all of whom brought into my life their neurosis, stresses, and anxieties. I can see how their unhealthy minds shaped the way I see the world and respond to it. Namely, walking on eggshells – avoiding their wrath and seeking approval.
To this day, I still avoid conflict, avoid overstepping boundaries, avoid imposing on others, avoid making demands, all driven by fear of what might happen if they explode in anger or perceive me as weak and spineless.
I sometimes project onto others expected behaviors from my past – “That person used to get mad when I did this. I’ll make sure not to do that with this person so I don’t upset them.” Only to find out time and time again that everyone is different and you can’t predict how they will react. Nevertheless, I still approach with caution.
Does anyone have any advice on how to be truly free of these fears and be able to speak and act with conviction? How do you become fearless?
October 21, 2013 at 12:00 pm #44079NessyParticipant
- This topic was modified 9 years, 11 months ago by John.
I don’t know how you become fearless, I think nearly everyone fears something but many people hide/ avoid this or certain people do things to try and respond to it rationally. I get where you are coming from. I think how you feel is described as “anxiety”, a little is ok but when it consumes you/ your thoughts it’s not ok. I went counseling to deal with my anxiety and my counsellor talked to me about rational behavioral therapy, which is helping med deal with things in a more rational way. I think you should get books that deals with your issues to you/ speak to a counsellor as books might make assumption because it needs to be a bit generalized but it is still worth reading though because there are a lot of things you may find useful/relatable but counseling can offer you a more personable service so yh if you are willing, both could be good. Everything is a process John. Step by step through controlling (to some extent) how you think by this behavioral therapy you can change how you react but first you’d have to be real with yourself and accept your feelings. I used to use my old bad past experiences to help dictate a similar situation in the present or help figure how i respond but truth is that’s a useless thing to do as you said everybody is different but inevitably people and the way they treat us isn’t really in our control (another thing I really soaked in from counseling) but you can with practice control how you act. P.s another thing you could read up on is how to be assertive because it’s another thing that’s helped me in the way I communicate how I feel cuz before I used to be quite passive with people I wasn’t as comfortable with and when they would do things that would upset/ frustrate me I would just bottle things because i was afraid of making a scene or seeming rude then before I knew it all the other cases of being annoyed/ upset just piled up making my emotions more intense than they would have been had I expressed myself assertively. I wish you well John and a lot of people can probably relate. God bless. P.s not all my anxiety has gone but it’s a bit easier to cope with things after my sessions and advice from a few good friends/ mentors/teachers so don’t think all your fears will be gone after it. One more thing counsellors don’t fix things they help you understand you and take control of your life and provide other services so it’s something that takes you being real and patient cuz nothing happens with a click. Wish you well. 🙂October 21, 2013 at 1:14 pm #44083MattParticipant
When we are young, we don’t have the skillfulness to see and understand our environments. So sometimes we play with knives and cut ourselves. But, when we’re kids, we don’t necessarily know that the cut will heal, and it feels like the end of the world. So, the knife becomes a symbol in the mind of the end of the world. However, its nothing, empty, just a knife.
This is the same with emotions. When we are young, momma and daddy are so important to us. They feed us, house us, clothe us, teach us. We’re just an ingorant kid, and don’t know what to do. As we interact with our parents, sometimes they burst out with all sorts of twisted emotional rays, and they hit us and hurt us. They yell at us for screwing up again, aggravating them, whatever, and we don’t know what we did wrong. We know we did something, after all, they’re telling us, but prior to that perhaps we had little to no knowledge. Or, even with the knowledge, had no impulse control… after all, we’re kids being kids.
But, it doesnt matter, because our parents (and symbolically, our source of food, shelter, warm feelings) get fiery and cut us, and it becomes the “end of the world”. We don’t know that momma is pissed and she’ll be fine in a moment. Or that she loves us and snaps sometimes. We don’t know that the isolation will be momentary, a few breaths. We get scared we’ve lost our chance at love, and safety.
Now as an adult, we can be left with those same fears. We’re afraid of the knife, because it can present the end of the world. We’re scared of making mistakes, because it can send us into eternal isolation. Both of those are nothing, empty of wisdom, of reality. If we mishandle a knife, we’ll get cut. If we say the wrong things, we’ll feel isolated. So what? You know how incredibly strong and brilliant your compassion is, you’ve touched it enough times. So you have a choice. You can say nothing and remain safe but unblossomed, or you can say what comes to heart and either feel pain if its you being unskillful, or joy if its skillful. The unskillful naturally erodes, because we know of the pain’s impermanence, and why it arises. So the more we just open up and play, the stronger our courage becomes.
Said differently, if you hide, you feel pain of stagnation (isolation). If you jump, you either fly or feel pain of unskillfulness (isolation). So, you really have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. As you learn, its even more obvious that the pain was helpful, it teaches so much about boundaries and so forth, and doesn’t last very long. Back on the cushion, take some breaths, and the mind settles. Then we get up and do it again, and the light of joy and the beauty of our gift gets more brilliant with each failure, because we learn. Namaste.
MattOctober 22, 2013 at 7:48 am #44152JohnParticipant
Thank you Matt and Nessy. I appreciate your encouraging words.
Someone got to me yesterday that undermined my confidence and hence the rising of thoughts and emotions. I didn’t know what to do with it. A little child inside came out and wanted to either cry and retreat and hide or stand-up and fight, but I felt that either way, there has to be more skillful way to deal with conflict and personal attacks. I know there will be more, because the person I’m dealing with it has a lot of pent up resentment and frustration so the arrows will continue to fly. I feel for them, I really do. But I can’t just sit idly by and continue to be cut at. I want to show skillful compassion to their suffering at the same time ensure I don’t get sucked into their neurosis.
Matt, other than meditation, do you have other recommendation on reading and practices that could in my learning and growth and deepen my practice?October 24, 2013 at 2:58 am #44278RashmiParticipant
I can totally relate to your situation though my anxiety stems when ever I open up and be vulnerable with somebody. My situation is not general to everyone, like friends and family. I generally am quite confident and I make friends easily. My anxiety issues rise during relationships. Any time I have to be vulnerable with the other person, my anxiety kicks in, and I start self sabotaging myself. I have fears that prevent me from being accepted and loved for who I am. I seek constant validation and approval. Until I realized that my fear of rejection, the thing I am constantly trying to avoid is the same reason why it is a re-occurring situation in my life. Our brains are programmed to to look for similar situations. It’s a great adaptation since it prevents us from having to think about every situation all the time. So instead our automatic responses take over and similar situations are grouped together. However the problem starts when we start looking for similarities between our previous life experiences and our current life experiences. Anyway after constant struggling I’ve decided to let go and face my fears head on. You come to a point where you decide enough is enough you cant keep your fears from controlling your life. In my case, its being able to experience live my life to the fullest and being able to accept myself for the way I am and loving myself for it. So I let all my fears ago, for better or for worst, I have decided that I will embrace the consequences of my actions. Its better than being afraid every single day. Its hard but you just have to make yourself get out of your comfort zone. The more you are exposed to situations that constantly challenge you to grow, the more you will be to adapt to new situation because you will be forming new thoughts and emotions about your experiences. As you go along you can programme your brain to respond to these situations in a positive light.
Here’s an awesome article that might help you
LIES YOUR INNER CRITIC TELLS YOU
Hope it helps.
🙂October 24, 2013 at 2:59 am #44279RashmiParticipant
Okay for some reason the link didnt get posted. Here you goOctober 25, 2013 at 4:31 pm #44362ReevaParticipant
There is no way to be fearless. But there are many ways to be strong in the face of adversity. I grew up beneath the strict rule of an emotionally unstable parent who criticized me heavily, forced me to stay in the home, and ignored me/yelled at me/slammed the door in my face whenever I “messed up”. It was only until I moved out of my mother’s house that I realized that I was constantly trying to avoid conflict with others due to the punishment I had received from my mother. I never disagreed with anyone on their opinion, I never suggested to anybody what they should do about their problems. When friends came to me asking for advice about problems it made me highly uncomfortable because I didn’t want to anger them with my opinion lest they should cut me out of their lives and/or humiliate me in front of other people. These 2 punishments were my mother’s way of keeping me in control and preventing me from being myself and having my own independent opinion. So I think I understand where you’re coming from. After a life experience like that, it’s hard for the victim of emotional or physical abuse to perceive what others around you think of as rude or weird. Here’s an example: it took me 5 years to come to the understanding that it’s okay to ask your friend for a snack if you’re hungry and you’re sleeping over at their house because they invited you over. Here’s another example: it’s okay to be honest with your closest friends about your opinion on anything. I spent a huge portion of my young life wearing a people-pleasing, doormat smile in order to subconciously prevent any outside abuse like the abuse I was receiving from my guardian. Here’s my advice to you and to anyone else who’s seeking the way out of people-pleasing, walking on eggshells, being a doormat, etc. and it goes for anybody whether or not you’ve experienced abuse or it’s just a strenuous habit you formed. Be honest with yourself. Write your true feelings down or speak with a counselor if possible. It’s important to know where you picked this habit up from (abuse, insecurity, fear, etc.) so that you can address the problem and understand it. Then, it’s important to understand that even though your abuser or your insecurities or whatever it was that caused the habit was what originally started you down the wrong path, it’s solely up to YOU to want to forgive yourself and change this behavior. You are the only one who is in control of your mind, so it’s your responsibility to work on yourself. Breaking a habit is not an overnight process, but if you WANT to change that’s all the fuel you need to get started. Read books, get educated, take a class, talk to your counselor/a trusted friend or relative, give yourself time to work on this behavior and you will begin to notice results. Continue to journal your feelings or something similar so you can notice your progress. That will motivate you to keep going. Then, once you feel bold enough, take baby steps and try new things out verbally. If your friend tells you that they like rock music and you don’t, say so. If a stranger gives you the right of way when approaching an open door, take it. You may take a small tumble on your journey (someone may disagree with you at some point, etc.) but if you truly want to break this habit, you will get back up and keep going.
It’s up to you and what you want to do! I am not a doctor or a counselor, I’m just speaking from my personal experience. I was once somebody who cowered in fear beneath my mother while she yelled, “You’re weak and sensitive!” in my face, and now I’m bold, strong, and I’m able to give you my opinion here online. Just keep in mind that if you want to change you can, most people are NOT like your abusers and will not punish you in some way for having an opinion, the worst that can happen is a disagreement, and I think it’s also nice what you said that people vary and everyone is different. Push yourself forward but take baby steps! Think of yourself as “recovering”. If you’re overcoming a physical injury, you must work through the pain but you also must take it slow. It’s the same as an emotional injury. Good luck!October 26, 2013 at 10:57 am #44390MattParticipant
There are perhaps some things you could do to strengthen your practice. If you wish, you could email me at wakingupward at gmail dot com, and we could chat further about things more specific than would be appropriate in a public forum. Namaste.