I am revisiting the notion of not letting fear, pain, depression, anxiety, or any other invisible inward feeling stop us from doing what we feel is the next right or wise thing to do.
For most of my life, I let unpredictable, unreliable inner feelings act as a traffic light telling me what I should or shouldn’t do next. I was naive enough to believe those feelings and would often shy from important things in my life that needed to be done. Important things like filing my taxes on time, opening mail, completing a home project, working out, or fulfilling a promise made to friends or family.
Instead, I often felt paralyzed by fear, depression, or anxiety. Feeling so overwhelmed that the easiest thing to do was to procrastinate the task and escape into sleep, tv, or in the old days of active addiction and alcoholism, I would drink or drug. None of these escapes were of any value. I was seldom rejuvenated and the task avoided was still there.
Then one day, years ago, I was listening to some teaching on pressing through fear or other overwhelming feelings. A simple suggestion was posed, “Why don’t you just do it scared”?
‘It’ being the task that you would otherwise avoid or procrastinate on. So I began to think back and ask myself, how many exams did I write in school while scared? Pretty much every one. Or when I was starting out my career and doing interviews, how many interviews did I do scared? Pretty much every one. And how many sporting events did I play scared? Again, pretty much all of them. So I realized I could, and often have, done many things while scared. So why not continue in this?
How was it the first time any of us walked into a room of AA, NA, Al-Anon, OA, or any 12-step program, scared? I would bet all of us. Yet what did we find on the other side of that fear? Sobriety? Help? Hope? A new beginning after repeated failures and painful losses? Yes, absolutely!
I believe that fear and other negative emotions are tactics often used by the sick/addicted part of our thinking to self-preserve the sickness or addiction. Somehow, it is like our unrecovered self has a mind and agenda of its own, and it wants to continue to live and grow. So it suggests to us that we should remain immobile and avoid certain tasks. Often, the very tasks that will give us the most growth, recovery, and victory in the shortest period of time.
I post this because I find myself in a bit of a post-Christmas funk. My mood has been heavy for a few days since Christmas and some things are bothering me. I am home early from work and I have some financial matters that really need attending to. And at this moment, my mind is doing everything to avoid these matters.
So my determination was to acknowledge and expose these feelings for what they are by sharing them on my blog, then press past the anxious feelings and just do them. Which is the next and only thing on my list of things to do tonight.
If re-living feelings of fear and anxiousness similar to those I felt at many important moments in my life is the worst it can be, then I know I can handle it. I just need to keep it simple, shut the brain off, turn the body on, and do it. Scared, anxious, depressed, overwhelmed, or whatever. It is do-able, even if I am not comfortable.