5 lessons learned about fear

5 lessons learned about fear

Today, I am discussing Five Lessons Learned About Fear.

I am going to be brutally honest with you in hopes this might help someone else.  

In my youth, I was super courageous…took risks, traveled often…moved often…always on the go.

However, once I became a mother of three…fear began to raise it’s ugly head.

Let me say here that there are legitimate fears.  If I am in a tornado warning, and instructed to take shelter, then the fear of what could happen needs to kick in and I should obey. 

I instruct my grandchildren to be fearful of cars in the street when they are on their scooters or bikes.

Out-of-control fear is when I worry about them doing this when I am not there to watch them.  That is the unhealthy type of fear we are discussing today. 

FIRST LESSON LEARNED: UNDERSTAND FEAR

5 lessons learned about fear

I now know that most fear is best understood in an acronym.  Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real.

I began with constant worry and fear for my children…and still occasionally slip into this fear with my grandchildren.  It is not based on anything real, but on false evidence that certain things are happening that only I have created in my mind.

Once we understand that the majority of our fears are not based on reality, it is easier to avoid them. 

ACTION POINT:  I now stop and evaluate…what is real with this fear and what is made up in my very active imagination.   

Oftentimes, I need to do a little research to see if my fears are founded or unfounded.  A balance of information can help…just not too much.

 

SECOND LESSON LEARNED: FEAR OFTEN CENTERS AROUND CONTROL

5 lessons learned about fear

I have learned that my extreme fears have much to do with my own “control” issues.  If I cannot control a situation to be the way I think it should be, then I become very fearful.

The hardest thing for me about parenting my adult children is to keep my control out of the picture and not obsess over what I think they should do with their own children and lives. 

I can make myself sick with fear and worry if I am not in control of travel decisions or event times or where my family might choose to live.

I know…this is pitiful, but I am being honest in order to open up someone else’s eyes to their own control and how it morphs into deep, dark fear. 

ACTION POINT:  Now that I understand this unpleasant side of me, I immediately ask myself if my fear is related to my own lack of control.  It is this type of fear that kept me from jumping into my own business before now.

Sadly, it took a pandemic to help me make the plunge and stop focusing on my fears of what could happen if I left the professional world.

THIRD LESSON LEARNED:  FEAR IS A LIVE, GROWING BEAST

5 lessons about fear

I have learned that I gave my fears permission to begin as a young mother and they have grown and grown and grown out of control over the last thirty five years.

It reached a point where I was having anxiety attacks from obsessive thoughts over situations that were fantasies.  Most of these involved travel fears or situations with family.

Once you give excessive fear a foothold, it just morphs into out-of-control thoughts that can (and often do) affect your health and keep you from truly enjoying life.

ACTION POINT:  Again, understanding that it is the out-of-control fear that is causing the anxiety attacks does help.  Sometimes all I need to do is breathe deep for several moments, and take time to pray.  

Good health practice like exercise, healthy eating, good amount of sleep, sharing with others helps as well.  Isolation often provides fertile soil for fear to grow. 

I reach out now for help and approach it with honesty.  (My version of phone a friend!)

FOURTH LESSON LEARNED: FEAR IS A THIEF

5 lessons learned about fear

The fourth lesson I have learned about fear is that it is often a thief of my best life lived, of my health, and of my joy.

When I allow it to get out-of-control and keep me from experiencing life around me with family or friends, then I have been robbed of my joy and life experiences. 

ACTION POINT:  I verbally call the thief out now for who he is and immediately pray and ask for God’s help to go forward in trust…not fear.  

I look at the true evidence of the good and not the bad of a situation and choose to place my thoughts there.  If fear is robbing me of sleep, I develop something else to focus on and tell fear to STOP!

FIFTH LESSON LEARNED: FEAR CAN BE DIMINISHED AND LIFE CAN HAVE JOY

5 lessons learned about fear

The final lesson learned about fear is that I can change and diminish it’s hold on my life.

One of the silver linings of 2020 has been the time to stop, evaluate, ponder, learn and go forward in my battle with fear.

It does help to have someone walking the journey with you, and Mr. B has done that for me…more in the accountability area than anything.

Is it 100% in my past? No…but much, much improved.  Taking a few risks has helped me with identifying the lessons learned and now operating with awareness of them.

So, please join me on Thursday for part 2 of this post….I will explain where I took the pictures for today and how it is a big part of this story.  Also, I have only grazed here the part about my faith.

However, my increased prayer life has played a huge role in releasing the grip fear holds.  God walks with me through this journey daily.

Would anyone else like to share their lessons learned about fear?  I know we are discussing a difficult topic, but despite that, there is always hope and a reason to…..

KEEP SMILING!

By Pamela Lutrell

 

34 Comments

  1. a very good subject to explore. i look forward to hearing from others what their methods are. i have sure had some episodes of what i call “the what ifs”. as you said, its that ability to conjure up the worst and beyond. my personal tool, is what i call the flashlight. i point it in another direction….i take the flashlight in my mind, and visualize pointing it at something good, or a good outcome. sounds easy, but sometimes i have to fight with the flashlight, picturing taking it in both hands, using your arm muscles and making it go where you want. i have the worse bouts with fear and anxiety at night for some reason..and that started in ’09 with the health adventures. day time is easier to focus on house tasks or errands, nights when youre trying to be quiet for the sake of the rest of the world is a little tougher…Thank goodness for the internet! games, surveys, shopping, travel sites….and must give a shout out to the Saints and Angels we call Nurses, I was in ICU for 6 days in ’09, and during the night they seem to know (maybe the monitors, maybe their experience) when i needed some conversation.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Sheryl. Your “flashlight” is a great visualization tool. I can understand completely how a serious illness episode would rattle your courage for awhile.

  2. This came at a perfect time for me. I am going to save it to read often in the coming days. By nature, I am a worrier and over-thinker. Sad to say…. Yes, I worry about my family, but have tempered that by putting each one in God’s hands. Since they are all grown, even the grandsons, I have no control over their choices, but do still have influence when they ask for it (important caveat!) Right now I have so many balls in the air with moving that fear has crept into this situation, mostly the timing of everything that has to be accomplished in a very short time, and changes that have to be put into place, also in a short time. I needed to read this today to put some of this in perspective. Fear has always been present in my life, and has been something I’ve been working on for quite some time now. This post helps with the process. Thank you for sharing your thoughts today…. I really needed it!

    1. I am so glad it has helped, Karen. Something I am still learning is not to give advice unless asked for…it has been tough, but at least I am aware of it and it is getting a tad better.
      Probably a curse with many of us as mothers and grandmothers.

  3. Thank you for this, Pam. It has been such an encouragement to me, as I am suffering greatly with anxiety. Although I am a Christian and I know God’s is control, I need to learn how to direct my thoughts. Can’t wait for Thursday! You are a blessing.

      1. Breaking down your thoughts about fear certainly made me think about mine as a mother and grandmother. Throughout my life when I am overcome with fear I so often would turn to my Bible, and find a verse to repay like a mantra when I felt that fear taking over my thoughts. I also have learned to visualize, especially when I am undergoing a fearful medical procedure. My visual is my childhood image of Jesus holding me in His arms. This visual calms me and becomes my focus.

        I have often thought what beautiful pictures you use in your blog, and now I’m pleased to know that you made these sea and sky pictures you included today. You have an artistic eye, for sure.

        My fortune cookie Sunday night seems appropriate today. “ Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood”. This seems to be what you are saying too.

        1. Yes! I like the fortune cookie! Now that I understand my own fears and anxiety, I tell the doctors and the anesthesiologist that I have anxieties about going under. This has really helped and they want to know. I love your childhood image of Jesus holding you. I have a similar one in my mind as well. Thanks for sharing all of this.

  4. Great subject and timely. While your discussion is primarily around how we personally address our own fears, there’s another aspect here that is worthy of recognizing. That is, not allowing projected fear to affect you.

    Projected fear is used (very effectively) in our Media. They literally tell us daily on what we should be afraid of. I for one have completely stopped watching mainstream media because of this. Fear is an effective control ploy and as a 59 year old woman, I refuse to be controlled OR be told what to fear. Turn off the TV, and reclaim some peace and well being. We cut the cord in 2012 and we’re very well informed on current events minus the 24/7 “Fear This, Fear That” narrative. Our blood pressure is down and we truly Let Go, And Let God over things we have no control over.

    1. Excellent point, Cindy. I turn on the local news in the morning to catch the weather and a few headlines. Then I immediately switch to a music channel called Soundscapes. This is when I have my quiet time and prayer time. Since I started doing this…less news more peace…I have way less fear. I agree with you that the 24/7 news cycle has created fear in many of us. Less is best!

  5. Pamela:

    Your fears & behavior are not pitiful at all. We all have fears & behavior that challenge us at times. I appreciate your braveness in embracing your journey & sharing it. Over & over in your posts, I see the elegance of your soul shining through. You are a special person to so many of us. Take care! Blessings – Judy

  6. Hi Pam. I so appreciate this column and your tackling a really common problem. One thing I’ve learned vis-a-vis my grown children is that interfering in their business is the OPPOSITE of loving–and we all want to be loving parents, right? It’s the opposite of loving because it pushes them off of their own path and assumes we know what’s better for them. This includes decisions they make that we are certain are “wrong”. Each person is entitled to make their own mistakes and find their own way. Internalizing this belief has helped me “let them go” and has certainly lowered my own fear threshold.

    1. Thanks for sharing Lisa. I think loving them does include sharing what we have learned when asked. I am trying to stop giving my advice without being asked for it. Fear is more about me than them…and I believe that is what you are saying.

  7. Pam,
    It’s as if Debbie took the exact words out of my mouth today. Your post has been extremely helpful to me this morning and so timely. Even though I KNOW God is in control my anxieties have been so bad lately. Looking forward to the next part. God bless you!

    1. Thanks Joanne…I know how crippling it can be. The comments here are also helpful today! Thank you….

  8. I love this quote:

    Fear is a idea-crippling
    experience – crushing
    success – stalling
    inhibitor
    Inflicted
    …only by ourself

    As women we juggle 1000 things…..and sometimes forget about self care. Talking about what worries us, what confines us, is a path to stop those negative thoughts and behaviors….we just have to remember.. We do this, One Day At A Time.. and noone is perfect at it…just improving <3.. ty for sharing

  9. Wonderful post. These are anxious times and good to hear your words, and I like the Action Point approach- have you ever tried Tai-Chi? I started with a wonderful teacher who is continuing on zoom. It is similar, but quite different than yoga. (All standing, but I find with the right teacher, it is amazing practice to relieve anxiety among many other health points for body and brain!)

  10. A lovely column. I will re-read & read the comments. Faith is such a vital piece of walking through “fire” -real or imaginary. Thank you for sharing this sensitive topic.

  11. This is a fascinating, timely post. Scripture tell us that we are not to fear but that doesn’t mean it is easy to let go. Two of my words for the year are “courage” and “understanding”. Takes a lot of prayer to keep fear at bay! I fully understand your concept of control. As things spiral out of control these days, I find myself becoming more OCD. I may not have a say in a most that is going on but hopefully I can keep my little corner of the world calm and collected.

    1. I smiled, Donna. That is what I seem to be doing these days…attempting to keep my little corner calm and collected! Thanks for sharing.

  12. This past year has raised the specter of fear in so many of us. I agree with Cindy in that the media, both news media & social media, have played a huge part in this. I have heard it said that the words “Fear not” are used 365 times in the bible. I can’t say that this is true, but it does make me realize that God is aware of my fears & is always available to help me fight them. Some days, I need to be reminded of this several times.

    1. As I do as well, Becky. Thank you for sharing this. I checked and you are right…it is 365 times in the Bible.

  13. Thanks for addressing the issue of anxiety, Pam. I too have periods where I have anxiety. My husband has a hard time understanding it as he never has those feelings. I also appreciate the suggestions from other readers of your blog.

    1. My family has also struggled with understanding it. I know that can be a hard part of this. Thank you for being here and sharing.

  14. A lovely article Pam and the pictures are beautiful. I understand how fear can take over your life. It has happened to me with the difficulties my grown children have been thru and my inablility to “fix” it for them–definately a lack of control issue as well. Their trials have kept me up at night many times and their decisions on solving their situations, should not be mine to evaluate. I also must work on how my fears can turn to anger. Sometimes when I am angry it is my manifistation of fear. Surviving family crisis is enough to overcome so I too, have cut the TV cord. No news really is good news for me…

  15. A great column Pam. Something that I am still working on. Almost 12 years ago we lost our older son to a drug overdose. I constantly worried that our younger son would follow and became almost obsessive in knowing where is was. He is now 36 with a son of his own and I have let go somewhat, but at times panic sets in. I sat down with him and explained that there were times that I still become panic stricken when he doesn’t answer a text or call, it isn’t his fault, but it would make me feel a whole lot better if he could just shoot me a quick answer or emoji. He is wonderful about answering me now. I found talking to him and telling him how I felt rather than get angry or panic has helped me emotionally. I may never totally get over the feeling, but have come a very long way. Thank you for sharing your ways of handling your fears.

    1. So sorry to hear about your son, Tina. I am glad that you can communicate with your other son so that it brings understanding. I think in your situation that fear is completely expected and understood.

  16. A very brave post, Pam. And your fears are NOT “pitiful”. I think they’re perfectly normal in today’s climate where fear is used to manipulate us in everything from what we buy to how we vote. Neither my husband nor I are worriers to any degree (we tend to be of the “if it’s a problem, fix it; if it can’t be fixed, learn to live with it” school of thought) but I spent a year during menopause having anxiety attacks. They disappeared as abruptly as they appeared & have never returned, but I have HUGE empathy for anyone haunted by fears they can’t control.

    During that time I returned to a daily meditative practice that I’d followed for years & let lapse because I was “too busy” — which is exactly when you need it the most, of course — & that helped tremendously because it calms the physical bodily response to stress, anxiety & fear. I suspect my spiritual practice is similar, if based on something different, to yours, & I think whatever works is a good place to turn. Staying connected to people is critical as fear grows in solitude, but we need to take care that those connections are loving & supportive. And I also believe in seeking professional help when it’s necessary. We cannot let a misguided belief that experiencing fear is either a weakness or a failure of character keep us from reaching out for & accepting help when we need it. Without loving self-care we’re no good to anyone! Thanks again for a thoughtful — & thought-provoking — post.

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