Tag Archives: behavior

An essential truth on fear

If you look to the left of this post you’ll see this quote (and a bunch of other worthy quotes, I might add):

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. -Nelson Mandela

I think that this one of the essential truths of humanity.  Fear is a significant daily motivator for many, many people, whether they know it or not.  Fear can define our actions, how we respond, what decisions we make.  The thing is, if most of what we are afraid is based on evidence, some would say truth.  And, we make decisions based on that truth, even if the action we take is slightly ridiculous.  For example:

  • Truth: The subway is a potentially dangerous place.  I may get hurt.
  • Action: Therefore I will walk the 6 miles to work.
  • Truth: I may get hurt on the roller coaster.
  • Action: Do not ride the roller coaster.
  • Truth: My husband beats me.
  • Action: I will lie about my feelings.
  • Truth: My mother says things that hurt my heart.
  • Action: I will keep my distance from my mother.

See what I mean?  Each thing listed is, or may be, true.  And therefore, you do what is necessary to protect yourself, even if it means compromising yourself, your principles, and/or your morals.

I am a person who has lived her life with fear.  Fear of just about anything and everything.  Even ridiculous stuff like “I might fall on the sidewalk therefore I must vigilantly stare at where I am walking, or avoid sidewalks altogether.”  Yeah, I did that.  Here’s another example: Fear would motivate me to act like a loon around people I didn’t know very well because I was afraid of being rejected.  If forced to talk to a new person, I would babble like an idiot all red in the face in sheer embarrassment at my ungainly social behavior.  For me, the safest thing was to avoid meeting new people altogether.  This fear lent itself to tension in  my marriage because my husband is rather fond of meeting new people.  Going to birthday parties of people I didn’t know would cause me a great deal of pre-festivities anxiety.  My husband has done a pretty good job being gracious with my crazy behavior.  But, I could tell he was sad because it was so hard for me.  Because of his desire to be supportive, my behavior limited his ability to be social.

I eventually got over the worst of this kind of social anxiety.  Mostly because, over time, I came to realize the new people weren’t going to hurt (mostly).  I felt like my behavior was wrong and it needed to change.  I had to force myself to calm down and give it a try, over and over again.  I had to force myself to appear to be calm, and have a nice conversation with someone I didn’t know.  This is where Mr. Mandela’s quote comes in handy.  He is saying that it is likely you are never going to stop feeling afraid. If you want to triumph over fear, if you want to conquer fear then do the very thing you fear.  Despite the trembling and shaking and your imagination going into overtime.

To overcome the fear, you have to ask yourself if being afraid is worth the price you’ll pay for allowing yourself to behave in fear?  Is it right to let yourself be bullied by your spouse?  Is it right to NEVER experience a roller coaster ride (well, maybe)?  Is right to walk 6 miles to work, in the snow, uphill both ways because something MIGHT happen to you?  Is it right for me to never form new friendships because I am afraid of rejection?  I have to choose one or the other.  I have to choose fear, or courage.  In other words, it’s my choice.  Mine.  No one else’s choice.  I  have to choose to overcome my fear.  I have to choose to be brave, even if I don’t feel brave inside.  And it’s your choice too.  YOU CAN CHOOSE to do the thing you fear.  That’s right, you have a choice.  Making the choice is point A, doing the thing you fear is point B.  The process of getting from A to B may look messy, but it’s a good messy.

Recently, I walked into a Zumba class at my local YMCA.  I didn’t know a single person in the room.  Not a soul.  It would be easy for me to do my usual wallflower routine and stick to the back and not talk to anyone.  No one was making an attempt to approach me and say, “Hi!”  Which would normally be just fine with me.  But, I would be missing out on making new friends.  Just last week I looked at the woman next to me and introduced myself.  I CHOSE to overcome my fear.  And, as it turns out this person is very kind and warm.  She shook my hand warmly, held it tightly, and introduced herself.  I felt good inside.  And, next time I show up for this class, if she is there, I will probably get a warm, “Hello!” from her, even if she can’t remember my name.  Overcoming my fear was totally worth it.

So, here it is:  Do what you fear.  Then you will be fear’s master, not it’s slave.  You will have unchained yourself from that wall.

Eventually, you will live free.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

So tell me, what are you afraid of and what can YOU do to overcome your fear?

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Of washing machines and a better tomorrow

Look familiar?

I don’t think it is any coincidence that I found this quote in my Facebook feed today: “Problems are like washing machines, they twist us, spin us, and knock us around, but in the end, we come out cleaner, brighter, and better than before” (Author Unknown).

If we are really (and I mean brutally, fist-in-your-face) honest with ourselves, this is a very true statement.

And now, I will say something bold:  Problems just are, whether we like it or not.  Stuff happens.  Life sucks. Often, circumstances suck.  Sometimes, people suck )(I admittedly suck sometimes).  And more importantly, we have a choice (Wait, did you know that?).  We can respond well to these problems, or not.  We can overcome the problem, or not.  It’s. All. Up. To. You.  It’s up to you how to respond.  It’s up to you to make a change in how you deal with the things that come your way.  You are not forever doomed to be a victim of your circumstances, your childhood, your bad relationship, your anger problem, or your “whatever”.  That’s right darlin’, you CAN change.  Yes, you heard me right.

You may ask me, “How do YOU know?”.  And I would respond with, “Cuz  I been there done that.”  I am changed-from-the-inside-out person.  I used to be shy, I’m not anymore.  I used to have multiple personalities, now I don’t.  I used to lack confidence, now I am a fairly confident person.  I used to totally suck at relationships, now I suck less (hey, nobody’s perfect).  I  used to respond to everything with anger and fear, now I take the time to really try to think through the reality of the situation, check my resources, and respond as appropriately as I can.  I used to be bossy know-it-all, well I…ahem…I guess I still am that way.  (If my sister reads this, she can verify what kind of person I used to be, and what kind of person I am today.  Right sis?  *clears throat* RIGHT, sis? Come on, be nice!)

This blog is about the process in between getting in the washing machine and coming out cleaner and brighter and better than you were before.  You, and I (and the kid down the street whose mom MAKES him wash his own clothes.  The nerve!) both know that when you put clothes in the washing machine it takes time for the clothes to come out clean.  First you have to put in the soap, then you have to choose the right settings (you know, “Normal”, “Perm Press”, “Hot/Cold” “Cold/Cold”, and etc.), start the water, and wait for the machine to agitate, spin, rinse, and spin again.  Like I said, it’s a process.  Changing behavior and thinking patterns is a process, you start with Step A, then move to Step B…I think you get the picture.

More than anything, I want you to succeed in life.  I want you to be who you are meant to be (Haven’t got a clue?  Contact this guy, he’ll help you figure it out).  But, you have to be willing to see some things differently, you have to be willing to knock down the walls of your little self-imposed prison.  You have to be willing to work at it.  And, it ain’t gonna be easy.  But, if getting knocked about a bit means you will be cleaner and brighter and better able to handle life’s problems, then the pain of the process is worth it, right?  Right?  I’m sorry, I can’t hear you.  RIGHT?!

I thought so.

Okay, so let’s get started:  Choose one thing you want to work on…I’ll give you a minute to think about.

Go ahead, it’s okay.

Just one thing, however small it may be.  It’s worth changing for a better tomorrow.

So, tell me, what would you like to change, starting today?

Looking forward to the journey with you,

Stephanie

Jesus-colored glasses

Well Just Write! is over.  But, I had the urge to sit down and write something.  So like Mary Kathryn says looks like our experiment worked for me!”  Hear, hear!

In life, so much of how we behave is based on perception.  In psychology (of which I am an undergrad student), learning and behavior typically go hand-in-hand.  Psychologists have been trying to figure just how learning works.  It is basically understood that our brain is a plastic mechanism that takes in information, processes it according our experiences and our genetic make-up and spits back out a reaction, or behavior.  When we are conceived, God chooses our eye color, hair color, personality traits and characteristics, and etc.  We are born with a basic construct.  For those of us who believe that we inherit spiritual factors at conception, we are born with both the good and the bad from our family lines.

As soon as we are born, we start learning.  We learn the smell of our parents, which voice belongs to which face, how to get what we need (i.e. crying for just about everything), and etc.  From birth on, our basic personality structure and learning experiences color how we react to our environment.  For example, my own basic personality has stubbornness/persistence woven into it’s structure because I inherited the physical genes that make me this way from my mother and my father.  I used to be just plain stubborn, now I am persistent.  I used to be stiff-necked and unyielding, now I (mostly) use this trait to help me keep pushing forward into a better place in life.

How I perceive this trait in myself depends on my perception of myself.  How other’s view this trait depends on how other’s perceive me based on their own experiences.  We sometimes call this a filter.  We receive information about our environment, our brain filters the information according to our understanding of things and says “Okay, this input is like this experience, and this is what you usually do”.  We are more likely to react a certain way in any given situation because of our experiences.  Sometimes we are aware of this, and sometimes we are not aware of this.  If I perceive myself as stubborn, I will more than likely behave in a stubborn fashion.  If perceive myself as persistent, I will more than likely behave in a persistent fashion.

How we react all depends on how we see the situation.  This is where Jesus comes in to the picture.  As a Christian, I have a choice; I can either choose to see life and myself wrongly, or I can choose to see life and myself through rightly or according to the truth.  As a Christian I understand that Satan wishes to convince me to chain myself to lies so that I am useless to God and behave wrongly.  Satan wants me to see life through Satan-colored glasses.  Satan will strive to convince us that we need to keep believing his perception.  Believing in lies never gets us very far with God.  Instead, I need to learn the truth because Jesus wants me to view life from his perception (i.e. THE TRUTH), or through Jesus-colored glasses.  It’s our choice everyday in every moment whether we believe the lies or we believe the truth.

If we take off the lies from our eyes and look at things from God’s perspective we understand what is happening from a different point of view (i.e. THE TRUTH).  Life, ourselves, and others begin to look different to us.  We begin to see that person that used to irritate us the way Jesus sees that person.  We begin to understand that persons difficulties.  With God’s help we begin to feel compassion for that person and react to them with grace.  If we allow the truth to permeate our being, we react differently to our circumstances.  We start to behave in way that brings life and light to our life and other’s life.  God’s truth starts to shine through for others to see.  When we allow ourselves to life from a God perspective the kingdom of darkness loses another soul and THE KINGDOM OF LIGHT WINS.  Satan no longer has control.

Isn’t that worth putting on Jesus-colored glasses?