Facing Down Fear - Hope For The New Year
Many people, including myself, experienced a good deal of fear in 2020.
From riots to Covid to isolation to lockdowns to remote learning and working to natural disasters to one crazy presidential election, there was always something coming around the curve to keep us off-balance.
In all honesty, though, I've lived with fear much longer than just this past year. In fact, it's hard to remember a time when fear wasn't motivating me in some manner or another.
It is a bit humbling to admit as someone who proclaims so fervently about HOPE, but it is true just the same. And I DO believe in HOPE. I believe the path forward is paved with it. I also recognize our paving equipment may need some annual maintenance. So here goes.
What Are We Afraid Of
This is almost impossible to answer because people process and express fear differently. Their life experiences also play a large role. Fear isn't always a bad thing, either. It is a protection mechanism. It helps guide certain decisions. It also motivates to inspire change.
Some have constant fear regarding financial issues and making ends meet. Others battle illness. The person how has a loved one struggling with addiction fears every unknown phone call.
Those with mental illness often experience highly irrational fears. And the people who love them often live in fear of THEM.
The root of fear is feeling out of control. That we are helpless and drifting around on a tiny raft during a raging storm. And the truth is, much of what happens (not all) in our lives is out of our direct control. Life happens, as they say. But our response to those happenings is COMPLETELY within our control. And that's where the key lies in living in fear and overcoming it.
I've come up with three universal fears and my thoughts on dealing with them. I'm no expert, mind you. I'm on a journey for answers myself. Maybe together we can all find strength.
Fear Of Judgment
Many people walk around in life boasting, "I don't care what ANYONE thinks of me." "I'll do whatever I want." "Their opinions don't matter." And most of the time those people are lying to themselves. Because whether we admit it or not, we do care what others think.
If we didn't, half the world wouldn't live their life on social media. They rack up 'likes' and comments and tally them at the end of the day to make sure they are still relevant and pleasing to those around them.
And the unfortunate events of bullying would be non-existent if we didn't care what people thought.
It is not a bad thing to wish to be liked and appreciated. It's a sign of community. We need each other. Acceptance is a comforting blanket in a very cold world. The problem comes when we take it too far.
The bottom line is, not everyone is going to like you (or me). We will be someone's unsweet tea in their corn syrup world. And that's OK. (Although if you know me, you know my tea rivals that of even McDonald's.) My point is, you will be fit into everyone's lifestyle. Nor should you want to.
The key here is to know and like yourself. Tall order, I know. But once you are cool with yourself, the opinions and judgments of others have less impact on your happiness.
Take stock of where you are. Improve in the areas YOU think important. Then take a deep breath and march into this world being proud of who you are and what you bring to the table. There are plenty of tables to go around. Don't expect everyone to eat at yours.
Fear Of Failure
This one strikes home to me more than the first one. I do have a fear of failure.
As a single mom most of my life, I've looked back and wondered did I fail my children. I wasn't able to provide a traditional, intact home. My marriages failed.
When I started Hope Boulevard I had such high hope and expectations for reaching and helping people. There have been many days when I have felt I failed at that as well.
I read an article recently that said you will never reach potential if you are not willing to be embarrassed. I'd never thought about things from that angle. The author suggested that until you completely put yourself out 'there', and risked being embarrassed, boo'ed, or worse, ignored, then you would never truly believe you had given it your all.
There are dozens of memes and quotes about no risk/no reward. You only fail when you don't try. One foot in front of the other until you make it. Learn from the mistakes. You know, you've read them too.
And I agree with all of them. The challenge is believing they apply to YOU when YOU are the one dealing with the loss, the setback, the failure.
You will not be the best at everything you do. The key is to do the best that YOU can do. If you truly do your best, then the result is not failure. It might be disappointing, or not what you envisioned, but never a failure. (Note to self.)
Fear Of Being Alone
This one really has a two-fold meaning.
There are those who do fear being alone in the relationship sense. They are compelled to jump from one relationship to another in order to avoid an empty feeling. The result is usually unpleasant and another loss.
The truth is, that empty feeling is often the result of someone not truly being happy and comfortable with themselves. That void is their own self-acceptance. Since they don't have it, they seek it from someone else. The problem is that piece of the puzzle only fits from within yourself. No one else can give that to you.
And being in the wrong relationship brings about way more loneliness and strife than being alone.
But I'd like to shine a small light on another type of being alone. And that is standing up and even alone for what is right. Sometimes that is scary too.
Just like the fear of judgment and wanting to be liked, some people are afraid to take an unpopular stand, even if they truly believe it right in their heart. They don't want the public ridicule. This is more true today than any other time I have ever known.
The 'mob' mentality tries to dictate what we should believe, rally behind, endorse. Those with an opposing view are mocked and made to feel inferior or stupid. It is hard to stand alone.
I am not here to be another to tell you what to believe. It is on you to do be true to your heart and make wise and thoughtful decisions. But once those decisions have been made, hold firm to them.
Stand up for what you believe to be right. Do so with integrity and a quiet spirit. You don't have to be a bully to get your point across. And you don't have to bow to another bully when you encounter one.
Facing Down Fear
My Hopefuls, it has been my goal today to help shine a little light on the anxieties and doubts that creep into our hearts and minds. It will happen. Even to those who unwilling to admit it.
My advice is to learn to control what you can. Take back the reins of your life if you have given them away. Start each day with a fresh dose of grit and encouragement and be the best version of YOU.
There is only one YOU. Take comfort and delight in that. You should also take comfort in this:
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ~ Isaiah 41:10
And as always, for this new year and beyond...
Hope With Abandon
If this blog spoke to you, please share and help me spread HOPE!