What do habits have to do with fear? Writing these mini-essays is about taking back control over my life. To trust the process that everything will turn out fine despite the Ludacris world problems we’re facing.
We act by the way we perceive the world. And that world is completely constructed for you and by you. That ‘fake’ world is so omnipresent; we can’t even see it’s constructed. Very handy for the happy few touching the controls. If they want us to go for intermittent fasting, isolate our roof, start a war in Irak, approve abortion, and discriminate non vaccinated people, it will happen.
I believe we are born free as birds, but we are being learned quickly how to behave, what to wear, and who to hang out with. We are born in a network of social status with values and norms that often have nothing to do with who we truly are, often forced upon us by our own parents and the government. This friction creates tension between who we think we are and who we really are.
When the Civil Rights Movement in the ’70s gained more recognition, white conservatives got scared. They needed a culprit and found it with women who wanted an abortion. Before, they had no problem with abortion, but now it has become the stake for Christian values.
Suddenly everybody had an opinion about abortion (and homosexuality).
In 1910, Dr. Hirschfeld already discovered that it’s way too simplistic to divide people into male and female or hetero and gay. Through comprehensive research, he realized that there are infinite combinations possible regarding gender and sexuality. One century later, politics got so much involved with our sexuality, and how love needs to look like, that even J.K. Rowlings is still confused about it.
Three years after the climate strikes, Black Live Matter and Me Too – again a hopeful moment in history, of which I thought that we finally could puncture that omnipresence – the world is more divided than ever. We defend our ‘own right’ as a matter of life and death without even realizing that our opinion is scripted by a bunch of douchebags.
Trust the process
With all this going on, it makes sense that by the time you hit forty, you realize that life is short, that you are full of anxieties and never really did anything for yourself. Well, stop judging (yourself), take time to find out who you are and let go of fear. If you focus on your own identity, you can change those daily taught habits. By overcoming small challenges, it becomes easier to refuse fear as a counsellor. By being happy with who we are, we get less easily manipulated. The more we can be ourselves, the less we need to judge, and feel more free and authentic.
You don’t need big actions to reach this feeling, but small deeds. Sometimes, it’s just waking up, taking a book, or doing something for yourself, like surrounding yourself with people who don’t judge.
Do you feel fear rising when you think of doing something for yourself? Observe that fear and check how much of those worries become a reality.
Fear is a primitive reaction from the time we used to live among wolves. Fear doesn’t stop death and misery; it stops living truly.
In her book Big Magic, writer Elizabeth Gilbert writes about fear: “Fear is allowed to have a seat in the car and have a voice but is absolutely forbidden to drive.”
This metaphor also is about being on the road. The process always takes longer than the sweet sensation of achieving a goal; training hard a whole season to have that one victory full of dopamines or working hard for years and missing family moments to get that promotion. After which, everything starts all over. We rush in fear from goal to goal without enjoying it truly.
And what if you can’t reach your goal because some ass-kisser or daddy’s boy landed the job? At least make sure that the process (your actions and learning curve) towards it was worth your time, and fun.
Stop with distrust and start to trust. This is not an easy process. Ironically enough, pretty frightening because we never really learned to deal with our human emotions. Market is not interested in unique people and minorities because they are not easy to control. The future will tell if the recently introduced QRcode favours the freedom of everyday people or the market and its inherent discrimination.
Focus on what you can control
Of course, you have to be prepared for what the world throws at you but what I mean is that most fears reside in our thoughts, not in reality.
The aeroplane is not going to crash, that refugee with her baby is not going to steal your job, the kids are still alive after camp and changing jobs or dumping that toxic person was actually a good thing…
‘Get comfortable with being uncomfortable‘: it’s better to have trust in an unknown future while constructing your own positive habits. So get used to fear but remember that it’s a nasty old nag.
We cannot control the pandemic, but we can wash our hands, wear a mask, avoid big crowds, and decide not to judge.
We cannot control a system that benefits from discrimination, but we can learn to use our voices against senseless violence.
We cannot control capitalism, but we can say no to harmful products.
We cannot control the world, but we can control our unique habits.
Focussing on small results gives satisfaction and peace of mind. It makes it easier to let go of big things we can’t control.
Personal Spa People
Creating positive habits until they occur subconsciously is like creating your own retreat: your safe space. Whether it’s the centre of Ghent, Seoul or the Portuguese countryside, by trusting this process, we will be able to play fewer on safe and be able to walk our own path. We will have an intrinsic motivation to show up every day just like those self-employed people who re-invented themselves during the pandemic to survive. People with an inner spa retreat trust the process of identity, intention, repetition, reward and goal. They:
- Have more space to use their imagination and are dreamers who work with dedication;
- Know that the process of showing up every day and not lying to themselves will deliver results;
- Don’t fear failure because failure is a learning process, and they will try things out our invest before even knowing it will work;
- Don’t want a pat on the back; they want constructive criticism because ‘It’s better to regret something you have done than something you haven’t done.’
- They are not afraid of fear because they know: everything turns out fine one way or another.
Next week: Do 21 day challenges help to start a new habit?