The Fear of Change
I couldn’t allow myself to put time into understanding how to write until I freed myself from the notion that I needed to write (quickly) if I wanted to eat every day.
Insecurity had won. Pain had won. My craft didn’t come first – survival did. It makes sense though, doesn’t it? Consider Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Basic survival needs have to be met before a child can learn effectively. The same is true for any adult that has the job of fulfilling their own basic needs.
We take jobs because we need them to survive, liking the job or being good at it become secondary. I put off understanding how to write until I knew my basic needs were met. It seems, without trying, that I proved Maslow’s hierarchy to be true, not that my validation was needed or even asked for!
So, what changed?
My thinking. My circumstances are basically the same. I have spent the last 9 years uncovering my own reality through the pain and insecurity I felt. To do so, I had to understand how my own insecurity, pain, and fear were affecting my perception of my reality.
We spend a lot of time in our lives stuck in our perceptions of things, not realizing that we’re actually free to roam and do what we want. It reminds me of the 8 of Swords in tarot. This image is from the traditional Rider-Waite tarot deck.
She is standing in the middle of those swords, loosely tied up and blindfolded. If you look carefully, you’ll see that she could easily wriggle out of the binding, pull the blindfold off, step between any two of the swords, and she’d be free. But her perception is that she is trapped and so trapped she remains until she changes her perception.
My perception kept me trapped and now I ask you the same question: Where are you trapping yourself? How can you wriggle free?
We can begin the process by starting to challenge our own perceptions through questioning our thinking. The fundamental question that we have to ask ourselves is this:
Is it true?
Reality will verify whatever we think. This is just so that we don’t think we’re crazy. Imagine living in a world where reality never conformed to your thinking. Imagine a reality where every time we formed an idea or a belief, reality did the exact opposite of it. If we believe that gravity is the reason why we don’t float away, then immediately we would start to float because we now believe in gravity. It would be quite a world, wouldn’t it?
Reality verifies your perception of it. People do the same thing if you think about it. How many people try to live up to the expectations of others? How many times have you done that?
I used to have a saying when I was in my 20’s and it went something like this: If people are going to talk about me then I might as well make it true by giving them something to talk about.
Yes, I lived my life like that for a long time. Me and drama were besties. I brought the drama with me wherever I went, including making sure that people had something to talk about when they had nothing else to do.
My reality matched my perception of what I thought people wanted. If I thought they wanted drama then I gave them drama. If I thought they wanted me to calm down, then I calmed down. I did whatever my perception of their expectations told me to do. Reality always conformed to my perception.
If that’s how reality works, then perception must play a pretty massive role in our daily lives. If we’re constantly looking outside of ourselves for validation of our own perception and our reality is constantly obliging to and confirming that perception, then how do we ever find the truth?
Simple – we have to test out a new perception. We have to try something different.
I say simple, but we both know that it’s not easy. It requires a bit of courage and maybe some willpower to look around and decide to test whether or not our perceptions are showing us the truth.
For me, it was just a matter of giving up the struggle. I had to stop fixing the perceived problems. I had to allow what I thought was a giant house of cards, to crumble. But that didn’t come without a fight and a whole lot of fear.
If we know that reality is going to conform to our perception then we can’t use that same reality as a means of verifying that perception.
To battle our own perceptions and win, we have to be open to seeing something different. We have to stop allowing our reality to show us our own confirmation biases. We have to stop looking at our reality as a way of confirming our perceptions.
If we know that reality is going to conform to our perception then we can’t use that same reality as a means of verifying that perception. It creates a feedback loop. That feedback loop is going to keep us stuck in our perception, just like the woman on the 8 of Swords tarot card was stuck in her perception.
To break out of the feedback loop, we have to form a new perspective and then watch and see if reality starts conforming to it. When we form our new perspective our job is to then act as though reality has already shifted. That’s the change in behavior. Once you do that, you have to wait for reality to catch up to you – you have to watch the outcome – see what happens.
We take on perceptions of how things are going to work or play out. We believe those perceptions. We believe the story of the future the mind tells. Why do we believe that? Because we have things in our reality that verify that perception and fear will stop us from challenging it.
But here’s the problem – if we never challenge it we can’t get out of the feedback loop. We stay stuck. We need to question our perception of reality and then change our behavior to match our new perception. We have to watch what happens because we have to see if our reality will bend to our new way of thinking.
If reality bends to our new way of thinking, that means the old reality wasn’t true. It means our perception was a bit screwy. It also means it’s safe to continue challenging those old perceptions.
How do you know your old perception wasn’t true? Reality changed, that’s how.
How do we know we’re safe? Because we’re still here. The world didn’t implode. You didn’t start floating because you stopped believing in gravity. You won’t blow up when you stop believing the lie in your perception.
How far do you have to take that? As far as you want it to go. Keep shifting your perception and your reality until you get something you like.
It’s simple but it’s not easy.
Fear is the thing that will stop you. Not reality. Not other people. Not your bank account balance. Not your circumstances. Not your job.
Fear will stop you dead in your tracks.
Fear plays on the perception that shifting our reality is dangerous because change is dangerous. I can’t even count the number of times I sat on my couch by myself, scared to death of what the outcome of my new action was going to be. I literally sat on my hands, allowing things to fall away, terrified of what would happen next.
I understand the fear that you feel because I felt it too.
I’m on the other side of that now. What I want you to know is that it’s never as bad as the mind wants to make it out to be.
That fear is the reason why it’s so important that we manage the mind and the story the mind wants to tell. The fear is a mentally generated emotion. Was there anything actually happening in my living room when I was sitting on the couch terrified? No. Nothing. Not a thing.
We are all scared that our perceptions may be true.
Reality will show you the truth when you ask for it. You ask by changing your behavior in such a way that reality can no longer show you the lie.
The problem is only the fear that we feel. The solution to the fear is to understand what the mind is doing so that the mind doesn’t get control anymore. We have to feel the fear and do it anyway. If that means you sit on your couch by yourself, scared of something you’ve made up in your head like I did, then so be it. That’s how you stop the fear from stopping you.
It’s simple. It’s just not easy.
Me and my bestie, drama, broke up. My new bestie is fear. One of the things I learned while sitting on my couch terrified, was that fear was actually okay company. Fear didn’t change anything. Fear was something I could keep to myself if I wanted. I didn’t have to share it with anybody. Fear was a warm, little cocoon that I could feel safe in, all by myself.
But I also had to learn that fear didn’t have power over me – that I could still be in charge from that cocoon. That although the cocoon kept me safe, reality wasn’t going to hurt me either. I didn’t have to stay in the cocoon if I didn’t want to. I was free to live my life as I chose to. All I ever had to do was acknowledge the fear that was present all the time anyway.
Yes, I want you to be best friends with the fear that you feel. Don’t get divorced. Don’t break up with it. Don’t try to evict it. Just let it be there in the background. Let it be a reminder of where you came from and how far you’ve gotten despite the presence of fear.
Look at the things in your life you’ve already done. Look at how many times you’ve felt the fear and done it anyway. Look at the power you have because of it. Fear gave you that strength. Fear gave you that courage.
We want to argue that we shouldn’t have to get it that way – that the price is too high. If we could have the courage and the bravery without the fear, then we would. But in the world of opposites in which we live, we need fear to understand bravery and courage. We need bravery and courage to understand fear. The equal and opposite is always necessary for you to understand and be grateful for what you have. We can’t be grateful for courage if we’ve never been afraid. It’s really hard to be grateful for the fear if we’ve never had courage.
In order to be grateful for anything you have to be in its opposite state, you have to be aware of where you are, and you have to understand what you got from where you were.
Fear teaches us gratitude. It taught me gratitude because it taught me to be aware of how much easier things are now that I’m not terrified of everything. Fear will teach you the same thing when you learn to get really comfortable with it.
Our ability to shift our perception and change the resulting behavior comes from nothing more than a willingness to get okay with being uncomfortable in the fear. The benefit of sitting in the fear is that we can begin to see the lie in our reality. When we see the lie in our reality then we can start to look for the truth.
The truth is simple – we are not stuck in circumstances, jobs, pain, relationships, or fear. The trap is a lie. The trap says we don’t have a choice.
The trap told me I didn’t have the choice to learn how to write. The trap was a lie for me too. I do have time to learn to write. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be learning it now. I did have a choice. I just had to allow myself to make it by shifting my perception of my reality and acting on it.
The difference this time is that I don’t have the fear. Why? Because fear taught me to have courage, trust myself, and know that I can handle whatever happens next.
Now I have one mission in life that’s really, really simple and it’s to write a message out in as many different ways as I can.
What’s the message?
You always have a choice.
Love to all.
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