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.

Scared $#!+less … the dreaded “f” word…

“I’m counting on you.”

That phrase could have been uttered by anyone. Maybe it was said from a boss, maybe it was said by a friend, maybe it was said by a spouse, but this time…

It was me.

Eisoptrophobia is the fear of what could happen. It’s the rehearsal of that conversation that happens in your imagination as you prepare to explain yourself…to you. Literally, it’s “the fear of seeing yourself in the mirror.”

What happens when you reach that point between “I can” and “I can’t”? There’s a combination of excitement and dread as you step across that line realizing that you’ve just passed a point of no return. You’ve just jeopardized everyone’s opinion of you and relinquished the shroud of mystery that keeps people far more optimistic than they should be about your potential and competency. The question is actually safer than the reality.

Atychiphobia

“the fear of failure”

There are two major issues when we talk about atychiphobia.

1) On one hand, we’re talking about how others perceive me. Once I give them the following evidence, I can’t take it back. If I embark into this unknown territory of my capabilities, everyone who sees me will have incontrovertible evidence against me. Because I’m terrified that I will fail them, I fear losing what little respect they have for me (that I’ve micromanaged to the nth degree) and stand on the premise: feeling inferior is unacceptable.

2) On the other hand, I fear the reality that I may have to face when I finally discover my actual limits. What happens when I always thought I could, even boasted about it, only to discover…I can’t? The internal humiliation is almost more than I can bear and it uncovers another one of my deeply rooted fears: atelophobia (the fear of imperfection).

Many people see perfectionism as arrogance… I’m sure you could find some unblemished narcissist that genuinely thinks that way but most perfectionists I know aren’t arrogant: they’re afraid.

Remember, fear is that weird instinctual reflex where my body, mind and emotions react without my permission. We’re afraid and maybe even irrationally, but what makes fear so daunting is the fact that if I could control it, I probably wouldn’t allow myself to feel it.

The issue is: when fear threatens to control us, what do we do? Are we so afraid of failing, of the truth we don’t want to discover, or of disappointing someone else that we fail to even try?

Whether this is a moment of panic: the split second decision of “do it” or “walk way;” or the long drawn out anxiety/dread of choosing a “road less traveled,” there’s still a fundamental need for courage. Remember: courage isn’t easier, but it’s the weapon we have against living as a slave.

“Courage is not the absence of fear but the mastery of it.”

Mark Twain

Your vocabulary word for today is:

Phagophobia – fear of swallowing

Scared $#!+less

That moment when your heart starts beating a little faster…you know, when you can feel it in your ears…

It’s a mixture of horror… of disbelief… of regret…

It’s gone way past a simple adrenaline rush… it’s uncomfortable… maybe even painful… and all you want is for it to stop.

You think in your mind: can I make it stop?  FORCE it to stop… RIGHT. NOW.

Or maybe you think: where’s the nearest exit?  if I walk away now, it’ll all get better in a second.  If I can’t see it, it can’t see me.

Or simply: I don’t know what to do.

The emotion you’ve just experienced could occur for any reason as long as that reason involved a stimulus that invoked a negative emotional response commonly known as: fear.

I’m obsessed with the idea of fear right now.  I see fear running our lives and impacting almost every area of our generation and society.  It’s not a new concept.  In Genesis 3, the first emotion described after God said everything was “very good” was (you guessed it): fear.  Adam was “afraid” and so he hid.

Fear is absolutely always connected with the future.  Whether that future is a millisecond from now or a hundred years, there’s no way to fear the past (that’s called regret).  We always, always fear the future.

I’m doing a study on phobias which are fancy ways to identify the stimuli that we encounter which invoke these anxious or panic responses and motivate us to do one of three things: fight, fly, or freeze.

We’ll break this down over the next several posts, but I wanted to start off with the number one fear in our society today.  This one beat clowns, spiders and even death itself: public speaking.

Glossophobia

“fear of speaking in public”

Can we be honest for a second?  Picturing an audience in their underwear is the most unhelpful advice ever given to anyone ever.  It’s not funny and doesn’t actually defray my own anxiety about standing in front of people and making a presentation.

In my work with missions training, there is nothing more panic inducing than the revelation that all good missionaries will, at some point in their experience, preach a sermon.

Cold sweats, nausea and that general feeling in the pit of one’s stomach…yep it’s like clockwork.  Even the mere idea that preaching might happen motivates people not to learn and give a new experience a shot, but inspires them to mentally formulate innovative scenarios which often include self-administered injuries at critical points in time (ie. just before a church service) that will disqualify them from the assignment of delivering a message of truth to a waiting crowd.

We’re going to dive into this over the next few conversations, but honestly: what’s the big deal?

Many fears and phobias involve legitimately dangerous activities, such as:

Hoplophobia fear of guns                           Traumatophobiafear of getting hurt

Aichmophobia fear of sharp objects               Arachnophobiafear of spiders

Ophidiophobiafear of snakes               Selachophobiafear of sharks

Public speaking just isn’t one of those dangerous activities.  So what’s the problem?!  That question is not an indictment; it’s a curiosity.  I’ve seen people pass out, throw up, hyperventilate and even start sweating when they are about to take the stage.

There is something inside us that reacts involuntarily.  It controls us and tells us what we can and cannot do.  I want to figure out what it is.  Because I believe if we can conquer our fears, we can change the world.  There are messages that need to be spoken and I say:

THIS WON’T BE THE OBSTACLE THAT STOPS US!

As we go through this series, if something strikes a chord with you and you want help overcoming a fear in your life, leave me a comment and I’ll send you a declaration and prayer to help you dominate the fear in your life rather than be held prisoner by it. 

Just because it amuses me, here’s your vocabulary word for today:

Arachibutyrophobia – the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth