Fear, hurt, and loss of control. The three main ingredients in our mental stew.
It’s 9:15pm on a Saturday night. I’m going on a long motorcycle ride up the coast manana with friends so I decided to stay in and hit the sack early. But it’s too early to go to bed so I’m going to blog. I wonder if I announced my motorcycle ride so that you wouldn’t think I was a loser for staying home on a Saturday night. Of course I did. But I don’t just want to write something on my phone like I usually do. I want to blog blog. Like I used to do. Actually sit down in front of a computer and write. Punch real keys.
I’m nursing some peppermint tea because I’m trying to cut down on coffee. A hand full of chocolate covered walnuts are scattered on my desk like loose change I just dug out of my pocket. I haven’t written a title yet because I have no idea what I’m going to write about. And for you, the reader, that may be a deal breaker. Because in today’s blog world, you are used to five ways to hack this and seven easy steps to do that. To just blog and write what’s on your mind is so 2011. Well, I’m jumping into a time machine tonight. Because tonight, I’m writing for me. No one else. That’s how this whole thing started.
First, I want to talk about stewing. I had this revelation today that I stew a lot. By stew, I mean being in my head, dwelling on shit, physically sitting or lying in one place and just staring at the ceiling as if it’s going to talk, say something to me that’s going to change my life. It’s funny how old patterns are so hard to break. Well, not really funny. More sad and frustrating. I mean, I coach people on this shit. But it doesn’t make it any easier for me. I struggle with the same things my clients do. But I’ve learned a few tricks along the way.
If you feel yourself dwelling on something, like why someone hasn’t texted you back, what someone said, if your parents will ever change, when you’ll see your abs again, whatever it is, replace it with something else. Either something that will change your state, like music or meditation. Or feed your brain. Read something. Take in a TED talk. Sit down and write a blog post. Get your mind to focus on something else. This pulls you out of your stew. You are now feeding something productive instead of the same unhealthy thoughts that are charged with the same negative feelings. Break the pattern. That’s what growth is about. Change your state or distract your mind. If you have a Cryo room (human freezer) like Tony Robbins does, step in to that. If while you’re doing this new activity, your mind keeps going back to what it was stewing on, if you can’t stop swimming in your own shit, then it’s time to turn around and face it. Head on.
Chances are, it’s either coming from fear, hurt, or feeling like you’re losing control. These are the main ingredients that make up our stews. Wow, this is now turning into a self betterment article. That’s not what I wanted to write tonight. It’s amazing how our subconscious works. It’s like I just drove somewhere without realizing that I was driving. Anyway, our stews.
We will always be afraid of things. Commitment. Abandonment. Death. Sharks. People. This will never change. So there’s no use in thinking you’re going to be fearless. Turn that dial to fearing less. When whatever we’re afraid of is presented in our life, our subconscious breaks the glass and hits the panic button, creating instant anxiety. We react by avoiding or running because our subconscious is trying to protect us but what’s really happening is we are stunting our growth. The subconscious doesn’t know what’s real or imagined so as long as you think about, dwell on that fear, you will feel the pull to react. Look at it this way. What you’re afraid of can be can be a dry marker for what you need to work on or resolve. So instead of reacting to your fear, what if you explored it? What if you took a moment and started asking why questions? What if you actually played out your fear? You may realize that it’s just a shadow cast by your own hand. What are you currently afraid of?
Here are some very common fears that many struggle with, including myself.
What if I never become successful?
What if I can’t pay rent and become homeless?
What if I never find “the one”?
I am a lot less afraid of these things today because I have dissolved them, broke them down. They still linger but they are no longer giant lumps in my mental soup. For the first one, I redefined what success means over the years. It used to mean money, fast cars, houses, and lots of fancy clothes. And I’m not going to lie. I still want nice things. But success to me today means freedom. Free to design a life according to how you want to live. Punch the sky instead of a clock. Success means impacting others. Success means doing something you’re passionate about for a living. Success means having authentic meaningful relationships. So according to my definition, I am successful today. Creating new definitions can be a powerful way to be less afraid. Most of the time, we are afraid of things because we haven’t redefined them to our truth today. So we’re afraid of shadows. Not what’s real.
Another reason we are afraid is because our what ifs are tied to our worth. If we don’t find “the one”, we believe we are worth less. If we don’t get this or achieve that, we are less than. Tying things to our worth makes what’s at stake heavy. And this is what we’re afraid of, that we may not be of value.
Finally, we are afraid because we blow shit up. We allow our imagination to distort and exaggerate a problem or situation until we are living in a state of panic. And when we are in panic, we make poor decisions. This leads to poor experiences that just cement our fear.
We dwell in our hurt. We have feelings about it. We hate and resent the people who have caused our hurt. All this feeds the hurt, preventing it from healing. So ask yourself who has hurt you and if you are harboring anger and resentment toward them? If so, how it is affecting your life? Is it keeping you at a lower frequency? When are you going to choose to forgive? Or maybe you have but you still feel the hurt. Hurt takes time to heal and I believe some types of hurt will always be there. It’s about not allow it to stew in you anymore.
Tip: Understanding the person, their wiring, who they are, how they maneuver through the world, can be helpful to see the bigger picture of what happened. This will allow you to not take it so personally. You’ll see that maybe it’s more about them than you. Maybe it wasn’t a personal attack. Maybe it was just their way of coping.
Loss of control.
We all struggle with this. Because we all have expectations on how we want things to unfold and how we want people to see us. And when reality doesn’t match our expectations, we feel a loss of control. Anytime we feel a loss of control, there is anxiety, panic, and lumps in our stew.
In order to dissolve these lumps, we must let go of control. Of course, easier said than done. Being in control makes us feel safe. Letting go terrifies us. Letting go means the unknown and we don’t like not knowing. So then the question is how do we let go?
First ask yourself what you are trying to control and why. What does it mean if you let it go? Does that say something about you if you don’t and if so what? What do you believe will happen if you let go? If you answer honestly, you’ll realize that you’ll be okay. You won’t die. Your life won’t be over. He won’t leave you. Your parents won’t disown you. Your children will still love you. You won’t be homeless. Actually, you’ll be better than okay because you won’t be carrying this burden to control anymore. You won’t be exhausting yourself with all this wasted energy.
The two things most people want to control. What others think about them (your desire to control other people may stem from you wanting them or others to see you and your relationships a certain way so everything fits into your definition of what something should look like. Or you want someone to change so you feel better about yourself. You “saved”’someone, which means you have worth.) People also want control over how events should unfold in their lives. Yes, you have control over the direction you want your life to go. But you don’t have control over how and when you will get there. So trying to control every scene of your life will cause nothing but anxiety. There is a fine line between knowing when to work harder to make something happen or when you should let go. Ask yourself why you want to control something or someone. If it has to do with how you want to be perceived or fear, let it go.
Imagine if you were less afraid, more healed from all your past hurt, and were able to let go of all the shit you know you can’t or shouldn’t control. How much less anxiety would you have? How would that change your state? And how would that change in your state affect your relationships and ultimately your life?
I’ll tell you. You would be a different person. You would attract different things. More opportunities. Healthier relationships. You would start to see the world in a different way. A vast ocean instead of a stale lake. You would go from narrow to wide and your happiness would be contagious.
Lean into your fears, start the process of forgiving so you can heal, and let go of the things you can’t control. That’s it. It’s simple. Not easy but not complicated. And know that it’s a process. But it all starts with a decision.
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