I do believe most of us acknowledge that we have a higher calling life. But, what is it that keeps us from reaching our purpose, knowing that we matter and that our contribution is valued?
I like to put it to you that ‘the thing we fear the most’ is what separates us from confidence, fulfilment, enjoyment and ultimately arriving at our destiny.
Mental health issues are often one of ‘things we fear the most’; – having them, talking about them, being open about them and dealing with them.
Because fear is such a crippling emotion, even the smallest of fears can lead us to make decisions and choices that are aimed purely at circumventing fear, rather than making positive choices that allow us to move forward.
I have done much soul-searching since my diagnosis; evaluating my life, my thought patterns and my actions. In this process I have begun to comprehend the devastation that fear brings to our lives.
- Fear of failure can result in us never trying.
- Fear of loneliness can allow us to perpetuate negative relationship patterns.
- Fear of isolation can allow us to compromise our beliefs so that we can fit in and feel that we belong.
- Fear of rejection can result in us ‘doing the rejecting’ and not fully embracing the joy of relationships and partnerships.
- Fear of making bad decisions and choices that have far-reaching consequences
- Fear of behaviours that compromise our integrity and morals
The list of fears and behaviors they elicit are endless, what is imperative is to begin to recognise the fears that impact our lives. Once we do this we can take conscious steps to address the fears that hold us hostage.
Fears whether large or small cripple us, stifle our creativity, ensnare us and throw us off track. It is only in questioning ourselves and being brutally honesty, that we are able to determine what we fear and how these fears affect our thinking and behaviour.
Having bipolar disorder only complicates the matter as many of our behaviours, despite our best efforts, medication and therapy, are often still out of our control.
There are, however fears that we can face head so that we can begin to take control of our lives:
- Fear of stigma
- Fear of embarrassment
- Fear of speaking out
- Fear of being rejected
- Fear of making mistakes
- Fear of mental illness being trivialized
- Fear of losing loved ones
- Fear of failure
- Fear of being a bad parent, partner, colleague, friend
- Fear that we’ll lose loved ones and friends because or our actions
I’m sure that there are many more fear that each of us have to continually face!
The crux of the matter is that we need to make decisions from a positive perspective, in other words, decisions that come from inspiration and sound judgment, not from negative thoughts and emotions.
The irony of the situation is that while many of us spend so much time and energy (myself included) making decisions to work around our fears, we actually land up weaving such entangled webs and ensnaring ourselves even further.
So how does one break through the fear barrier? Here are some starting points that have really helped me:
- Get the facts – most fears are based on our own assumptions and not on actual facts.
- Put your fear into perspective – does the fear actually warrant the importance it’s being given
- Speak up and use your voice. Once you’ve done it once, it becomes easier and easier
- Forearm those around you; let them know what may happen, how you feel about it and how they should deal with it
- Seek help and stick with the programme
- Use your ‘stable’ time to cultivate true relationships
- Be honest about who you are
- Make reminders of your importance, value and accomplishments so that when the blackness comes you have something to hold on to
- Ask yourself the question, ‘what’s the worst that can happen’? – answer the question realistically and use this to determine how valid your fear is
- Monitor your thoughts; stop thinking negative and fearful thoughts. We become what we think, so focus on being positive and constructive. (I know this sounds twee, but it works).
Once you’ve honestly determined what you fear – figure out what the opposite of that fear is and use that as the basis for your decisions. For instance; –
- If you fear that you’re not good enough, make you’re next decision as if you’re the best in your field
- If your fear is related to not being worthy enough, participate on the basis that your involvement is paramount to success
- If you fear rejection base your decisions on the importance and value of your contribution in whatever area this fear resides
- If you fear the stigma attached to mental disorders, remember that you have overcome much and are strong
- If you fear misunderstanding and isolation, know that knowledge is power and you have a voice, use it to educate and explain
Once you’ve confronted a fear and faced it, it loses its power over you and you become a conqueror!
Ultimately, the only thing to fear is fear itself and only you and you alone can free yourself from fear!
We are warriors, we are strong!