Somehow, we have come to misunderstand what fear is.
Remember the principle: A feeling PLUS a thought equals an emotion.
F + T = E
Fear is the meaning we assign to a situation as a result of a sensation or feeling.
Noise heard in the middle of the night = waking up with racing heart, and fear.
Being told that you are being laid off from a job = fear based on the belief: We will run out of money and starve.
The question is: How do we deal with fear?
We really have two choices:
(1) We can block it out (deny it).
(2) We can feel it, acknowledge it, and analyze it.
When we block it out, we run from it, but pretend we are not running. Sometimes we are afraid of something, but pretend we are not. We act with bravado. I have a silly example of this. My daughter came home from Girls’ Camp and was obsessed with this silly camp song. You must do this with action!
“Goin’ on a lion hunt because I’m not afraid!
Got my shotgun. Coming to a forest.
Run to the forest. LOOK FOR THE LION!
But I don’t see no lion!
Goin’ on a lion hunt, because I’m not afraid.
Got my shotgun. Coming to a river.
Swim the river. LOOK FOR THE LION!
But I don’t see no lion…….
Same thing - climb the tree. Climb the cliff. Go into the cave.
The ending is this:
When you go inside the cave, you scream: THERE’S THE LION!
Then you scramble out of the cave, climb down the cliff, climb down the tree, swim the river, and run through the forest. Then you say:
Goin’ on a lion hunt. I’m not afraid.
Got my shotgun. And do you know what?
I’ve been a li-on (lying) all the time!
When we deny that we are afraid, we are essentially lying.
The second response, then, is the healthy one. We take apart the fear. We analyze it. We look at what we are feeling, and then we ask ourselves what we are thinking. When we do this, we can consciously decide if we want to keep the same thought, or if we want to re-solve it, and choose a different way to think and believe.
Emily was gaining weight, and this was concerning to her. When she thought about this, and decided to think about her emotions to see if there were any emotional connections, she realized that she actually was feeling fear. At first, that didn’t make sense. What was she afraid of? Of course, she didn’t want to gain weight, but why was she afraid of gaining weight?
F + T = E
When she thought about weight, what was she actually thinking about? She had to get really quiet, within herself, and ask herself to really go deep. Over a couple of days, she found her answer. She began to think about her experiences with “weight” as an issue. When she was about ten years old, she began to gain weight. Her diet hadn’t changed, and it seemed to be kind of a family “pattern.” Her brothers and sisters had done the same thing. Her parents joked that their children grew “out” before they grew “up.” Sure enough, when she was about 13, she did grow “up” and grew about three inches taller. At the same time, her weight stabilized, and she did not appear to be overweight any more.
Interestingly enough, this was happening around the time of puberty, when all kinds of hormones were kicking in too. Emily had been very self-conscious as a teenager, and constantly worried about weight. She had naturally lost the weight, but still remained hyper-vigilant, and dieting and eating healthy foods were very important to her.
Now that she was an adult, and looking back, she saw “little ten-year-old Emily.” This Emily had wanted to be included in group activities, but felt that many times her friends did not take her seriously because she was overweight. She believed that people tended to ignore, or “not see” her due to her weight, and that she wasn’t valuable to people, or wanted. She tried to remain in the background. She wanted to be included, but didn’t want to be in charge in case someone noticed her and made fun of her.
Emily “got it.” This is the “aha” that comes as we really understand what our emotions are telling us. At age 10, Emily had adopted the viewpoint (belief): When you are overweight, people really don’t take you seriously, and you are just kind of non-noticed.
As she realized this “past view” experience, she could compare it to her “present view” experience. Guess what? She had recently been asked to be president of a large women’s group. She wanted to do this, but coincidentally (she could see that now), this is when she began to gain weight. Emily knew that she felt a tremendous amount of fear at being the president, and had to make herself get up in front of people to conduct meetings or introduce a speaker. She had not realized that this “group” situation unconsciously reminded her of the experiences (and fear) she had felt about weight as a child. But she also realized that in a way, she was gaining weight now in an emotional response to needing to be safe - to have a reason to say: If I’m overweight, people won’t think that I’m showing off, or that I’m taking over. They won’t notice me as much to judge me if I’m overweight.
Now - is this rational? To our emotional brain, it’s completely rational, and it’s very important. Once Emily had this “aha,” she said she felt a lifting sensation, as if her body were lighter. In fact, she just had this realization, and didn’t do anything else. She began to notice that the weight just dropped off, and she did not have any more trouble with gaining weight.
Will this be the same for everyone, and is this the magic cure for weight loss? No, of course not. Emily is unique, as everyone else is unique too. There are many reasons things happen. Not all events have emotionally-based connections. Not all emotional connections are the same, anyway, because no two people are the same.
But it is the perfect example of how our emotions impact our lives - even our physical bodies. Understanding that concept helps us analyze concerns and problems in our life to see if there might be an emotional component to the issue we face.