A Coffee Klatch with Fear – You’re Invited!

Recently some of my dearest and oldest fears stopped by for coffee.

We had a nice chat.

Usually, my fears do all the talking, but this time I had a few things to say, too. My fears wanted to stay for lunch, and maybe even an impromptu sleepover; but, since I had a pretty busy day, I sent them on their way.

I wasn’t always so disciplined when fear stopped by. I didn’t really like the visits, but they were familiar, so I often allowed them to overstay their welcome.

An acronym for “FEAR” is False Evidence Appearing Real. When we live in fear, we mortgage today’s peace thinking about, fretting about, worrying about things that might not even happen. Worse, all that fretting, worrying and such isn’t even useful. Fear clouds our vision, and, when we are in its grips, it is difficult to think or act to good purpose.

Unchecked fear creates anxiety. The anxiety builds and builds until we feel compelled to do ANYTHING to relieve the anxious tension. If you look back on your life, you are likely to see places where fear drove you to invest in all sorts of crappy relationships, career choices, financial decisions, geographical moves, and other knee-jerk decisions.

A better strategy when faced with fear is actually to PAUSE. Take a breath. Ask for a moment of peace. Reach out to a friend. Share it all.

Then –

Put Your Attention Elsewhere!

That’s right. Do nothing for at least 24 hours.

Then, make a list of actions you could take, since Right Action is the solution to fear.

And what does Right Action Look like?

Well, it might look like service, because service gives us so much – perspective, appreciation, community, hope.

Which leads us to a better acronym for fear: Face Everything And Recover.  Let’s do that together now — see the P.S.

Fearlessly Yours,

Jennifer

P.S. – Now it’s your turn. Let’s swap fears. In the Wisdom Circle comments below, leave a fear you’re sort of tired of, and pick up someone else’s to trade. You can share anything you want – finances, health, the upcoming football season. Let’s have some fun with this.

P.S.S. – I’ll start. Just for today, I’m giving up my fear of “how stuff will work out.” Instead, I’m picking up a great big heaping dose of “So What? Now What?”

P.S.S.S. — After you’ve played along, please share this post with others via the Handy Dandy social share buttons below.   The more fears we can “out” the better!

Photo: Flickr, sasha fujin

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29 Responses to A Coffee Klatch with Fear – You’re Invited!

  1. Shauntelle says:

    Oh, I’m ready to leave “Nothing will ever change” and… well, I’d just like to leave that one with no exchange, if that’s okay? It’d be nice to have one quiet day without all the “why does that matter? So what if you do that… it won’t make a difference anyway…” that keeps roaming through my head.

    I just want to pick up some silence for a while.

  2. Lisa says:

    My fear (which may be more specific than you are looking for….) is that awful health anxiety. I went for a yearly exam yesterday, worried about the breast exam part, etc., Well, it turns out I have cervical polyps and now I have to have an ultrasound today (which also happens to be my scheduled mammogram day!) I am trying to focus on the now and not worry about what all these tests might show. (And, something else I realized: I was so worried about one thing–the breast exam–and then something else entirely–polyps!–came up. So maybe the goal is just not to worry….because you never know what’s going to happen and you’ll waste a lot of time worrying about things when you could be doing something else.

    Many thanks for “listening”!

    • Jennifer says:

      Oh, my. I’m thinking of you and going with you virtually. You are not alone, love. Thank you for sharing your challenges with us. Everyone — prayers for Lisa!

      Love, Jen

  3. Diana says:

    I’ll be happy to babysit “nothing will ever change” and add a tiny bit more to my pile of health anxiety for the day. No charge. In exchange, will someone carry around my fear of change for the next 12 hours? Even as I take baby steps toward the changes I know are good for me, I find myself resisting the results. If things change – I will have to give up certain routines and habits that I enjoy (read “cling to).
    Let me sit with fear of things remaining the same, and revisit health challenges a few extra times. Perhaps a temporary trade will help me realize change brings gifts as well as losses.

    • Shauntelle says:

      Hi Diane,

      I’ll be happy to babysit your “too much changing” fear if you want… I’m craving change right now, it just feels like it’s happy in really SLOW increments. Prayers for your health concerns (even though I’m a little late).

  4. Jennifer Y says:

    Diana, I’ll carry your fear of change for a while. Start with small, minuscule changes for a while. For example, when you interlace your fingers, stop and change the cross so that the other thumb is on top. Breathe, and feel this uncomfortable feeling of change. Deeply experience it – don’t run from the fear feeling. After a few moments of deeply experiencing the anxiety and discomfort from this small change, and realizing that those feelings WILL NOT HURT YOU, you’ll feel it slowly dissipate. It’s a small practice to set you up to turnaround and face bigger changes head on – not without fear, but with enough bravery and strength to experience the emotions. Remember, bravery is not the absence of fear, but rather moving forward even in a fear state.

    For me, can I lay down my fear of doubting my own decisions? When faced with two options in life, I fear committing to one choice or the other. I spend far too much time weighing the options, wishing one choice would leap off the page as the obvious choice…and more often than not, the obvious choice doesn’t speak that loudly. And once I do make a decision, I live with a gut fear for a while that I’ve made the wrong decision. I’m setting a life goal to listen to my intuition more, but sometimes blindly following that path which intuition sends you down is completely terrifying.

    • Tamara Seaborne says:

      Jen, I will SO hang out with your self doubt for the day if I can offload my “What if” since it feels like it weighs about five and a half million tons right now. Self doubt, my shoulders can bear the weight of! ;)

    • Diana says:

      Thank you, Jennifer! So much. In return I wish you more trust in your decision making.

  5. Cindy Baldwin says:

    What is my fear? I think it’s that I feel my life as I knew it is over or at a standstill. Recently retired with nothing to look forward to. Kids/grandkids live 1400 miles away. Marriage of 34 years is pretty much just a roommate situation. It’s not that I don’t want to live, it’s I don’t like my life right now. And I don’t know how to fix it. So in exchange I will take on the health challenges.

  6. belinda says:

    I’m here because I ran away from home too but not sort of…I really did. Because I was afraid….of nothing. Nothing meaning the void in my life?? As in there’s nothing in my life. The past decade has seen its share of fears (health, death, relationship, empty nest, big financial issues…) culminating in the big question…”now what?” All grown up (literally) with no idea what’s next. I’ve faced these questions with fear but am learning to live stoically accepting the challenge of dealing with only those things I have control over. Therefore the False Evidence Appearing Real is so true yet I like the followup acronym also…so I face everything and recover. It’s amazing when you turn it all lose to the universe how much those fears fall away. I’m still faced with a daunting future but facing it head on and trusting in the oh so great universe of God, angels, friends, grown-up kids, prayer, solitude, and myself, I believe I am conquering these fears and am starting to look forward to what is in store for me. All women should read “Women who Run with the Wolves” by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. It is mind boggling and so very inspirational. It has helped me conquer these fears and given me the umph to keep going for rediscovering my soul is worth it. Reconquering my soul is worth it. I am worth it. So, I will gladly swap fears because I now feel empowered to overcome them and accept what is thrown at me. And in the words of Scarlet OHara….”I can’t think about that now…I’ll think about that tomorrow”.

    • A says:

      Wow! I think I’ll put two up for grabs. Or at least place them on the shelf to sit and be left alone or rot as I jubilantly skip away.

      I am ready to release these 2 limiting beliefs:

      1. “When I leave my husband I will no longer be respectable by my peers and colleagues, and I will damage my children for life.”

      2. “I cannot be a fantastic mom and build a thriving business to support myself and my 4 boys at the same time.”

      Whew! There you have it. Do you remember the Coffee Talk skit on Saturday Night Live in the 80s? I think I’ll borrow a line from it now…Streisand: “Now, I’m getting verklempt! [To audience:] Talk amongst yourselves. I’ll give you a topic. The Prince of Tides was about neither a prince nor tides.” Ah…

      In all seriousness I have been going down with a sinking ship for 21 years and the oxygen tank is totally depleted. It is time to get a divorce and come up for air. It is time to live again. I KNOW my work nor a divorce reduces my love for my children. And I know that I am capable of providing well for myself and my boys. It is just taking time to change my thinking and beliefs. I can’t wait for the success story after the fall. :)

  7. Sandy Morris says:

    Diana, I will take some of your fear of change. I have lived that nightmare before too and know it well. Today I feel pretty secure so I think I can handle it. What I want to leave is the fear that I won’t ever get enough done. I live in a place where the fleeting summer passes by quickly and it is always more of a race to the day the snow flies than a leisurely float down a sunny river. I never have enough fun in the summer because I am always worrying about Getting It ALL Done. Today I am making pickles and visiting with my best girlfriend. I will have no time for worrying about not having enough time!

  8. Vickie says:

    Hate to admit it but my fear today is that my bf will be scrolling the porn sites again even though one of the dealbreakers of our relationship was no porn. And what do I do the next time I find porn sites on the computer?

  9. Ann Marie says:

    I was going to take on Diana’s fear of change, but it looks like there are enough people willing to take that one on.
    So I’ll take Vickie’s fear about her boyfriend surfing porn.
    Now, if someone can take on my financial disaster that is my car ($1600 and counting the last two months…it’s in the shop now…and I still need 2 new tires) and my credit card debt.
    I have no idea of how to get out of it. I’m not buying what I don’t need…but I’m overwhelmed with more than 50% of my take-home pay going to credit cards. Is it time to pay the minimum and use the “surplus” to live day-to-day?
    yikes. Bring on the porn…

  10. Kama says:

    I am happy to take on any of the above fears for a day or two if someone can please take my fear of not making enough money. I really need to shake this fear, it is getting too heavy to carry around. Thank you! :)

    • Diana says:

      Oh, Kama, I have that fear too! I am learning to live with less, to live simply and not spend money on anything unless I really need it. I find it simplifies my life and makes me more grateful. Yet I know that won’t solve your money problems. Keep your eyes open to opportunity. Believe that you deserve enough money in your life, and then act accordingly. Best to you!

  11. Pam says:

    I love that all my fears are shared by others. It is comforting to know that we are not alone. I spent all night thinking about what my biggest fear is (thinking first, fear of success, fear of change, fear of the unknown) but I know mine is based in insecurity…presenting “Fear of Not Being Good Enough”. I will take on Kama’s, I don’t make enough but I’ve found that there will never be “enough”.
    Have a great day ladies!

  12. Holly says:

    Frogs and Toads. I leave you with those and I’ll take your snakes and spiders. :)

  13. Erin says:

    I will share and carry the fear of not making enough money, though I am aware there is always enough ~ it’s just hanging around someone else who needs it for a while : ) My greatest fear is that I will be unable to love myself enough to be able to attract love I need from others. I will take everyone’s health fears and replace them with the thought that in spirit, we are all in perfect health, and loving the parts of ourselves we don’t want to look at improves our health.

  14. Pam says:

    I love this blog entry and all the responses. I have so many fears, I’m afraid to start listing them. I have scary debt. My kids are grown and gone, and there’s no place in their lives for me. The family I struggled to build is gone. My sons are good, good men. Good husbands and fathers, but I’m not good enough to be part of their lives. And I guess that’s the way it is. I dunno.

    But my deepest, biggest, scariest fear has nothing to do with the above. I’m afraid I’m going to die with the words I want to write still in my heart. I write. I had stories and essays and a weekly newspaper column published in the 1980′s and 1990′s. I assumed by this point in my life, I’d be well established as a novelist, but my mom was murdered in 1998. I got married in 1999, which is a good thing, but I’ve given so much energy to the angst of blending a family, grown kids, feeling like I’m a little kid with my nose smashed up against the glass of a candy store when it comes to being a part of my grandkids’ lives that I have had no energy to write. I sit and look at the blank screen, and I just can’t. I want to but I can’t. I’m too scared. I let a writing group mess with my head in 2004, and when I sit to write, I hear the leader’s jeering voice as she critiqued my novel in front of the group. And I can’t.

    • Shauntelle says:

      Hey Pam!

      Here’s a fear I can help with (I think). When you sit to write, imagine me sitting on your shoulder in full warrior woman gear, my sword sheathed and ready to pierce that crappy workshop leader right through when she starts up her jeers. Who is she to tell you that you shouldn’t write? I’d knock her flying so fast, she wouldn’t know what hit her… and I’d whisper in your ear, “what happens next, come on, I HAVE to know, I can’t wait to read the rest of the story!” so that you’d be inspired to keep writing, knowing that you had an eager reader waiting desperately to hear what happens next…

      • Pam says:

        Shauntelle, thank you! I really appreciate your taking the time to respond to my post. I like the idea of my own personal warrior sitting on my shoulder. Time and life have not been a good friend to that mean lady. Lots of not very good stuff has happened to her, and I feel badly for her. These days they call it karma, but my old granny used to say, “what goes around comes around.”

  15. Brilliant post and I love the final acronym “Face Everything And Recover.” So good! I’m happy to take any money fears because having lost it all at one time, I now know that it’s possible to live abundantly without being a millionaire!
    My fear today is that I’ll never have enough time to do everything I want to do and say everything that I need to say to those I love.
    And I do have a little motto that I say to myself and that is “If you’re afraid to do it, do it afraid!”

  16. Priska says:

    I used to believe that I needed to be in control, prepared for all outcomes.
    My fear was of losing control. Not being able to take care of my health, my finances, safety, security, getting Alzheimers.
    I worked very hard all of my life in order to be able to take control should any of the above happened.
    Only recently I realized that no matter how hard I worked, how much I saved, how prepared I was, how healthy I ate or exercised, I could never have control over future.
    Understanding this helped me to face everything and recover.

  17. Ah, all these fears are up, up, UP for me right now. Because I just DID leave my husband (but from an empty nest, not quite as scary as A’s situation), I guess I AM running away from home, leaving all that is safe and comfortable for a new city. It’s all happening right now.
    I have no idea how I will manage to support myself, fearful I won’t cultivate the necessary self-confidence to manifest the money I need, scared my car will break down, I’ll get sick, I’ll lose everything I had (friends, love, support). Scared of what happens next.

    As a lifelong control freak, this is all crazy scary. It’s too much to ask anyone to scoop up this big old pile of fear for me, but it sure helps to know so many of these bugaboos are shared. Something about carrying a shared load works in the direction of dissolving just a bit of all this fear. And then I can see the glimmer of possibility and excitement that lies beyond.

  18. Laverne says:

    I would love to blog but I have a fear of being ridiculed because I am not strong writer. I feel I have have a lot of wisdom to share because I have had my share of “ups and downs” and I believe in great comebacks. At this very moment I feel fear is paralyzing me! Tonight, I want to leave my fear of writing to behind!!!

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