Scared… Last Thought…

So after weeks of realizing how paralyzingly scared we really are and discovering that many of us share the same basic fears, only one question is really left to ask…

No seriously, so what?

What if it’s all true?

What if you really are afraid?

What if the past really is a tribute to landmine discovery?

What if the journey till now has been avoidance, denial, or rejection of the path in front of you?

The answer isn’t some of the standard “reconditioning” techniques used by psychologists (ie. letting spiders walk all over you to “cure” your arachnophobia).

The answer isn’t hiding out and managing your life around your fears so you can “survive.”

The answer isn’t just enduring the panic or anxiety.

There’s something to the process of becoming men and women who walk, not fearless, but courageous. Courage isn’t the absence of fear, remember. You may always have one more reason to be afraid. The question is about YOU and who you want to be.

1) You need to decide how important it is to BE A PERSON OF COURAGE. If it’s not important to you, nothing will change.

2) You need to follow Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice: “Do something every day that scares you.” If you don’t actually ACT like a person of courage, you’ll never actually BE a person of courage. It should be normal to overcome.

3) Call it what it is. “It’s fear.” “I’m afraid of this.” “This makes me feel anxious.” If you don’t identify your enemy, you can’t target them. You need to LOOK the fear in the face and say “YOU DON’T GET TO TELL ME WHAT TO DO!”

4) Sow into other people’s freedom. There’s nothing like cameraderie. One of the biggest problems with fear is having to face it alone. Walk others through their fear and let them walk you through yours. TALK about it! The devil’s in the secrets.

5) MAKE IT WORSE. Okay, this might sound like weird advice, but I read in a story. The characters were confronting fears and they had to either stop being afraid or be courageous enough to make it worse. So if they were claustrophobic and found themselves in an enclosed space, they had to make the space smaller to pass the test. If you struggle with a fear of rejection, PRESS INTO RELATIONSHIP. Put yourself out there. If you struggle with control issues, LET OTHER PEOPLE DECIDE. Let them order your meal for you. If you fear the unknown or the future, have people wait until the last minute to tell you what’s going on.

Do something to PROVE to yourself that it. doesn’t. own. you.

2 Timothy says “GOD hasn’t given you a spirit of fear.” It says instead: “[GOD’s given you] a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind.”

Come on friends. You can do it.

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Scared $#!+less … get out of the way Reject…

In all my research two particular fears I believe are dominating our generation never came up in a clinical diagnosis. It actually surprised me because out of all the phobias we’ve talked about over the last couple weeks, I probably reference these more than any others.

Fear of Rejection

This is one of the most debilitating, anxiety-ridden fears I encounter. In fact, it has its own dysfunctional psychological expressions. This fear is frequently manifested as a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you deal with this fear pay attention because you may find that you participate in this:

I’m afraid that others will fail to accept me or even flat out reject me. I’ll live as an outcast, unliked, unwanted, and I have enough physical evidence and experience to support this (irrational) claim.

Thus, I can’t possibly be sure people are genuine when they say that they care about me. I have to make sure they’re serious so I test them. I do objectionable things, even push them away to see if they’re willing to fight for me.

People aren’t used to being mistreated (not like I am) so they distance themselves, confused at what I’ve just done and inadvertently end up dismissing and ultimately rejecting me.

See? I was right. Nobody wants me, nobody would fight for me, and the sad thing is, they didn’t even see the real me yet.

The other fear I found sadly missing was:

Fear of being out of control

It has been a startling revelation for me to discover that CONTROL IS MANIFESTED FEAR. I want you to think about it. Control freaks cannot handle, maybe even have these biological, instinctive fight or flight reflexive responses to: not being a decision maker or holding the responsibility for some task or stewardship.

You know those individuals who MUST have it their way?

… who are DEFENSIVE about their behavior?

… who go aggressive (or worse passive aggressive) when their TERRITORY is encroached upon?

… who are critical when it is done DIFFERENTLY than they expected or wanted?

So often, this is not about arrogance, this is about fear. You excuse it as preference or even accuse others of being inconsiderate or incompetent, but actually: you’re afraid.

These fears are debilitating friends. They don’t look good on you. And here’s the deal: YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO LET THESE GO IF YOU ARE GOING TO EXPERIENCE FREEDOM!

You’re going to have to give up your claim that you are the ONLY advocate for your acceptance. Live accepted by the Lord and let Him provide people to unconditionally accept you…even if you don’t unconditionally accept yourself.

You’re going to have to stop caring so much about things and ask yourself if the anxiety or even anger you feel when you’re out of control is an accurate expression of the person you want to be.

Remember: if you say you can’t help it: YOU’RE PLAYING THE VICTIM CARD. Unless something is legitimately controlling your actions and pulling the puppet strings of your life STAND UP AND TAKE SOME RESPONSIBILITY.

You’re in charge here.

Here’s your vocabulary word of the day:

Anthophobiafear of flowers

Scared $#!+less…Occam’s Razor…

I’m trying hard to figure out how to land this plane. The list of phobias we could talk about is literally pages and pages long. We haven’t even talked about anuptaphobia (the fear of staying single) or neophobia (the fear of new things). We’ve only grazed the surface of the idea of autophobia (the fear of being alone) and haven’t even breeched dysmorphophobia (the fear of a real or imaginary body defect).

Then there are issues that I may bring up in our next post that don’t have clinical names but are legitimate, life affecting, freedom threatening fears.

Occam’s Razor is a scientific theory that says: “when in doubt, the simplest possible explanation is usually the right one.” My conclusion is that our culture and generation is quite:

Panphobic

fear of everything

It just seems to be true. Fears are at the fabric of our curse. It started with Adam but the end is still a toss up. One good courageous move is a beautiful, yet short-lived celebration. For fears come up again and again and require bravery to deeper and deeper levels. Not to be fatalistic, but they’re the battle we’re here to fight.

But one issue that we haven’t addressed comes on the heels of this rather sobering declaration. It comes down to this: do we live in fear because we don’t know any better or could we, in fact, have:

Eleutherophobia

fear of freedom

If we use our standard description, eleutherophobia is a biological, reflexive response to the idea of living outside our prison cells. It’s different than agoraphobia (fear of leaving a safe place) because it’s not just danger we may face, but responsibility.

We don’t know what to do with this freedom. We’re so terrified of failing (atychiphobia), or having to make decisions (decidophobia), that we CHOOSE BONDAGE.

How is this possible?! How do we accept that this is our life and that this is God’s intended expression for our destiny?

Is this nothing more than being so wrapped up in the “what if” on the other side of the curtain that we wallow in our dank cell? Even if our worst realities were the reality of “the other side”… do you want to go out a fighter or a prisoner?

You only get one shot at this life. Is this how you want it to play out?

I want to share some paths to freedom in our last post in this series, so stay tuned.

Here’s your vocabulary word of the day:

Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobiafear of long words

Scared $#!+less… a little too close to home

I’m just going to come right out and say it. No fanfare, no build up. I want you to see this, an actual clinical diagnosis:

Ecclesiophobia

the fear of the church

No matter what your stance is on the church, denominations, conservative vs liberal, liturgical or charismatic, there is an actual term for the physiological response of anxiety for some individuals who think about the church.

I can envision a soapbox some might get on that says “yes! see?! Down with the church!” But I hope that’s not your response. I hope this devastates you.

I can get up and rehearse my “the church hurt me” story along with the best of them, but I am proud to say that I haven’t given up on the church. I have a proverb I like to live by: “don’t complain about anything you’re not willing to help change.”

Pay attention, though. Look at these other related phobias:

Stygiophobia

fear of hell

How often do we play on this fear to get people to pray a Sinner’s Prayer?

Philophobia

fear of love

People coming into our communities are starting off at a deficit. Even if we could convince them that we’re more sincere than just being willing to shake their hand at the door or (God forbid) “high-five” them during our 23 second “greeting time” they are already having emotional responses to intimacy. If we can’t convince them they have genuine value to us as believers, how are we supposed to convince them of a God who desires that intimacy with them?

Scopophobia

fear of being looked at

It’s a good thing we don’t create environments where people who look different stand our or feel out of place… (sense the sarcasm people).

This isn’t just about our own fear, this is about how we help one another be courageous enough to overcome theirs. We don’t always have to walk through the valleys alone. We don’t even necessarily need to make bold moves of courage alone!

What we’re really addressing is… are people afraid of you? Do you care?

As you ponder, consider this as your vocabulary word of the day:

Zemmiphobia fear of the great mole rat

Scared $#!+less…with great power comes…

I remember my grandparents talking about growing up during a rough time in America’s history.  The Great Depression was a devastating blow to the country and the current “recession” for all of its challenges really held no candle to the 1930’s.

In response to the collective struggle of the people of that time, it motivated an entire generation to take hold of their future and buckle down.  No longer were they going to be victims, no longer were the lack of resources or opportunities going to hold them back or oppress them.

So they went to work.

My grandfather (after he returned from his time serving our country in WWII) jumped into agriculture and worked sixty years in the cattle feed business.  When he retired, it took three people to replace him.

My grandmother on the other side of the family has worked in real estate for over forty years.  It was a value of life to work hard and the empowerment (or fear, let’s be honest) kept them working hard.

Today’s a new day and a generation is responding completely differently than the generations before to the idea of stability, the workforce, the idea of a “career,” and good old-fashioned elbow grease.

I believe the freedom’s we’ve grown up with and the lack of adversity we’ve had to face in our lifetime have made us both entitled to the following phobia but also at its mercy:

Hypengyophobia

fear of responsibility

There are a HOST of additional side fears that accompany this phobia, many of which we’ve already referred to (atychiphobia – the fear of failure; teleophobiathe fear of definite plans).  But this one is unique.

Another way we employ a “flight” response to our fears and phobias is through justifications.  I heard someone say recently “I’m not afraid, I just don’t want to.”  Here’s the harsh reality though: if you have to reassure yourself you’re not afraid…you probably are.  And let’s be honest…not wanting to looks a lot like a flight response to fear.

Because overcoming your fears is HARD WORK.  You’re right.  Choosing to fight the fear will be brutal.  Courage isn’t easy, preferable, and (especially in circumstances where your fears are hurting no one but yourself) quite easy to dismiss.

But taking responsibility is a movement without necessity.  In Jewish culture, boys and girls become men and women at a young age.  With great ceremony, a boy will celebrate a bar mitzvah which not only signifies his entry into manhood, but also the expectation that there will be s shift in his life where he will be expected to take responsibility.

Often times the reason we don’t want to take responsibility is because if we do, we could miss the golden opportunity.  We live idealistic that our dream job won’t feel like work at all!  If hard work hurts, we reason, then it can’t be the highest and best use of my time. 

In many cases, we want to GET ON WITH IT and will find a place to practice what we what to do instead of going through a developmental process to prepare us adequately for the task.  We have a Macrophobia or “a fear of long waits” about our lives and too many men and women from my generation are sacrificing the world changing contribution of “later” for the small, incremental projects of “now.”

Again I ask: who decides how this goes?  Are you stronger than your frustrations?  Are you in control of the time necessary to be groomed for an earth shattering contribution?

Look at your life.  If you’re not working hard, someone/something else might be in charge…and it might be up to you to take the reigns back.

Here’s your word of the day:

Xanthophobia – fear of the color yellow

(as an aside…no other color gets its own clinical name…just yellow…)

Scared $#!+less…are you afraid of the …

Mike and Sully taught us one thing: the monsters in the closet are terrifying…but mean well. Kids have always had an awareness of the scary things that go “bump” in the night. Their imaginations turn shadows into ghosts, air conditioners into howls, and household creaking into sinister prowling.

When it comes down to it, though, we’re all just a little achluophobic…

Achluophobia

“fear of darkness”

In my line of work I actually interact frequently with people that dare the darkness to hold some terror. I mean darkness not in the literally “absence of light” kind of way, but instead darkness meaning “evil.”

I’m amazed at our western society’s ignorance about the legitimate travesties that exist in the world. It’s one thing to hear the phrase “human trafficking” and shake your head at the unfortunate nature of this…cause. It’s another to walk the streets of the red light districts in Thailand and see baby bottles placed on the little altars outside of a bar to represent the aborted or lost babies of the prostitutes who work nightly at the establishment.

When I was in Thailand a few years ago, I heard from a teammate how they walked by a building on the strip where our contact told them about a recent raid by the government which found Ukrainian women chained to the walls released only to “service” clients with a particular eastern European ethnic taste.

That’s darkness.

What emotion did you just feel when you read that?

Did you feel indifferent?

Did you shake your head at the unfortunate reality of those “poor women”?

Did you feel horror?

What do you think you should have felt?

What’s your current emotion about hearing more stories like this? I’m not saying anyone likes it, but does that reality do no more than make you want to wear your money belt when you travel and stay in groups near well-lit areas?

Jesus wasn’t afraid of the dark. In fact, his constant challenge to us was to over come our social optophobia.

Optophobia

“fear of opening one’s eyes”

One of my favorite observations about Jesus was how often he was described as “stopping” and “looking.” He had no agoraphobia (“fear of leaving a safe place”) about interacting in places that were …

Dirty…

Smelly…

Undesirable…

Full of questionable people…

Different…

Do we go where we’re supposed to go or do our phobias decide for us where we can and cannot venture? Is there somewhere you “can’t” or “won’t” go simply because you’re afraid?

We all claim that “if God told me I’d go” … how sure are you that he hasn’t?

Scared $#!+less…metamorphosis

This week heard the phrase: if someone invented a shot that would keep dogs and cats puppies and kittens forever, they’d make millions.

Seriously…

I mean who doesn’t watch those vacuum commercials with the Golden Retriever puppies and go soft at the heart?

I’ve been watching in amazement my good friends’ baby has grown over the last 9 months. I held his fragile body in my hands the day he was born and a mere few months later, he’s almost walking, forming words, breaking in teeth and even recognizes me.

I watched an episode of a TV show I enjoy recently and heard this quote: “Change doesn’t care if you love it or hate it. Change is indifferent, intractable, and will not be denied.”

Change is the only constant. It is the only thing you can count on in the course of your startlingly short life and it’s the fabric of everything we know to be true.

It’s the war we have with existence. Even animals wear down paths to their watering holes as they go back and forth along the same predictable routes.

No matter what we try to do, we’re victims of our insatiable need for stability and live paralyzed by:

Metathesiophobia

“fear of change”

When we say “fear,” we’re talking about an emotional and even physical response to a stimulus we deem threatening or dangerous. The unknown, the disturbing, the upsetting and the deviation are classic anxiety-invokers.

I’m reading Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years (it’s wrecking my world right now) and came across this quote: “People fear change…Though their situations may be terrible, at least they have a sense of control; at least they know what to expect. Change presents a world of variables that are largely out of their control.”

When it comes to ourselves, some of us are the kinds of people who can’t eat the same cereal for breakfast every morning (anybody with me?) But others are creatures of habit (like my roommate) who has eaten the same lunch every day for the last four years.

But when it comes to our personal development. What we’re talking about might be:

Enissophobia

“fear of criticism”

We talked last blog about the fear of imperfection, but this one begins to strike a physiological chord with some people, because criticism might require change. It hits us either because we can’t handle the possibility of humiliation (gelotophobiafear of being laughed at) or even the shame of having messed up beyond repair (enosiophobiafear of having committed an unpardonable sin).

At the end of the day, we’re either the victim or the victor and I believe we have the right to choose. The immediate stimulus might paralyze us so that we do nothing (freeze) or scare us away (flight).

ARE YOU LISTENING?!

This is serious people! The fears of change and criticism are running our lives. You are allowing something to make decisions for you and to dictate your actions. In fact, some of you might be in such paralyzing bondage to these fears that you couldn’t move if you tried. YOU MAY NEED HELP!

This isn’t how things were supposed to be. I assure you: if you confront this, you will take away its power and one day these fears will be a memory long forgotten.

Are you stronger than your fear? Maybe you should start acting like it.