This life coaching thing is really started me thinking on how I am as a person and what has been driving me all these years to get me where I am today. The more I think on it, the more it becomes clear, that my driving force in just about every decision I have made in my life has been one thing:
“I have spent my whole life scared. Frightened of things that could happen, might happen, might not happen. Fifty years I spent like that. Finding myself awake at 3 in the morning. But you know what? Ever since my diagnosis, I sleep just fine. And I came to realize it’s that fear that’s the worst of it. That’s the real enemy. So get up. Get out in the real world. And you kick that bastard as hard as you can right in the teeth.” – Walter White
We all have fear when faced with challenges. The unknown is scary, and rightfully so, and it can become so overwhelming that it paralyzes you in your tracks, not allowing you to move forward nor even retreat. You become stuck, and until you pinpoint this fear, and face it directly, you will remain stuck. For a very, very, VERY, long time.
I do not think there has ever been a point in my life where I did not feel stuck. I felt stuck in DeLand as a kid growing up so I joined the Navy. Then I felt stuck in the Navy because I was worried I could do nothing else, and because I was married and had a small child, I felt stuck because I could not afford to leave. So I left my marriage, then felt fear about being alone so jumped directly into another relationship too soon, and with the wrong type of person, so I feared the whole time she would dump me and, much like is stated in The Secret, my feelings became the reality.
“If you live in fear of the future because of what has happened in the past, you will lose what you have in the present”
The quote is the root of my issues I am starting to recognize. I live in the past, and base a lot of expectations about the future solely on what has happened to me before. Because I always feel the bad repeats itself, the Law of Attraction hits me square on the nose every time. I expect the worse, so I get the worse. I fear the swim in triathlon, and expect it to be hard, so lo and behold guess what happens? I have an awful swim. I expect to hurt while running and to be last, so BOOM, I hurt while running and end up last.
Chris McCaffrey was on the podcast a few weeks ago and addressed to some degree. He stated that if you look at all of his race pictures, the ones they take on the course, you will see that he is smiling in every one of them. He feels this not only lifts his experience, but lifts the experience of those around him who may be struggling. There is something to this. Studies have shown that if you smile at people while walking down the street, more than 90% will smile back at you. Happiness is catchy. But practicing happiness can be harder than you think, especially if you are consumed with negative thoughts all day long.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?” – Marianne Williamson
I even lived in fear before having children. I was abused as a child by my stepfather, in all ways (so as not to go to much in detail), to the point I actually questioned what my abilities as a father would be, and also to the point that I only wanted girls so that I would not fall into the same behavior. The universe in all its wisdom did not grant me this wish and gave me two sons. I am happy to say that I did not repeat the same mistakes with either of them, but the FEAR that I might was always there, and still is, to the point that I was probably not strict enough on them. More so my youngest because I have been with him his whole life. I see him struggling with what to do with his life, and I am at a loss on how to help him, but what my inner voice is telling me to do is being fought off by the FEAR that he will resist the intentions I have and I will lose him like I lost my oldest. The FEAR is stopping me from doing what needs to be done to help him.
It is worrisome to realize that fear has held me this close for so long. When I start thinking about all of the decisions I have made in my life and how, without fear, they would have been different it saddens me. I grew up loving music, played in a few bands, and always wanted to do that for a living. After leaving high school that’s all I did, and my girlfriend at the time (who was also my first wife) told me that she could not be with someone so rudderless. She broke up with me, and during an argument right afterwards I said, in anger, “I may as well not even be around anymore. I may as well be in the Navy!”. Her response?
“You don’t have the guts to join the Navy…”
I joined the Navy the next day. Sure showed her, eh??
I guess that is one example of doing something I was scared of right?
I spent ten years in the Navy, and when I got out I decided to go to college (at the age of 27). Even though that in itself scared me, and one decision I made despite the fear, what I ended up studying was still fear based: psychology. Easy for me. Even when starting school I took the placements tests for Math and English (because it has been 10 years since I was in high school) and test into the normal coursework, but because I was SCARED that I wouldn’t be smart enough I still enrolled in basis Math classes, and aced the entire course. After my BA I wanted to be a school counselor so applied for the Masters program at UCF and was turned down. Twice. But I was too scared to get into the workforce yet, so I started looking around at programs and found the Masters in Public Administration, which I had NO clue about. 3 years later I graduated with my MPA and got a position with an Area Agency on Aging in Orlando as a Quality Assurance Manager. I liked the job, but the fear of money started playing into my life so I started looking and found a position with Healthy Start in DeLand, which was more money and close to where I lived. This then led to another Healthy Start position in Tampa. Then the need for more money creeped in again so I sought out MORE education, thinking … well … MBA’s make money so I should do that. I went to USF on a scholarship and got my MBA in 2 years. This resulted in me leaving a job I really liked to seek out more money at Moffitt Cancer Center, a BAD move (though I did meet Jennifer there). I made a lot of mistakes at Moffitt and ended up being released, which resulted in 8 months of unemployment, bankruptcy, and losing my house. I took the first job offered to me, a government job, and have been here ever since, making LESS money that I made while at Healthy Start in 2008. I don’t mind the job I have now, and it’s actually been getting better recently, but the FEAR is now ingrained in me that I cannot leave because of what happened after Moffitt.
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” ― Paulo Coelho
I am becoming, as I age, more aware of this issue and starting to face it head on when I feel it coming through me. Even though what I have been doing recently in the area of my health was based on fear though; the fear of dying. I am not even sure it is the death that is fearful, it’s the manner of death that worries me. I have already survived cancer, so I faced that and fought it back, so even though the chances of dying from the type of cancer I had been remote, it’s still CANCER right?
“Men go to far greater lengths to avoid what they fear than to obtain what they desire.” ― Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code
What drove me to triathlons, and running, and cycling, and swimming, was the fear that I would die of something I could have prevented. I cannot imagine a worse issue to face on your death-bed; the act of dying from something that was your own fault. I just think it’s the ultimate selfish act. Watching my stepfather wither away at the age of 63 because he just couldn’t give up smoking … and then witness in awe of my youngest brother (my half-brother) watch him die, his REAL father, and take a smoke break outside the house is just … well … stupid. You have children, and you know what this did to you to watch your father in pain, and yet you have no problem with putting your own kids through the same pain? Jut a selfish act in my opinion, but it made me think about what it would be like for my kids to watch me die of a heart attack because I just had to eat that bag of chips, or drink that 2-liters of cola. The FEAR of this kicked me into gear.
“Bran thought about it. ‘Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?’
‘That is the only time a man can be brave,’ his father told him.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones
So what are my fears today?
I FEAR dying in pain – this one will stick with me I think.
I FEAR being irrelevant
I FEAR no one knowing I was here
I FEAR being seen as a lesser man
I FEAR being invisible
I FEAR being poor
I FEAR being rich
I FEAR being stuck
I FEAR not being good enough
“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.” ― John Lennon
This may be an ongoing theme as I work through these.