There is a lot of scary stuff in this world around us—both genuine and imaginary. The news media picks up a little genuine “scary stuff” and pumps it full of hot air until it’s hard to tell the difference between the two by the time it reaches the airwaves.
Then there are the most atrocious TV shows full of ghouls and vampires, and walking dead. One would think we are intentionally living out our nightmares 24/7 for some strange reason. But WHY?
Is this some perverted version of facing our fears? I really don’t know, but I find it very odd how saturated our lives are becoming with fear-based stimuli.
My guess is that we are acting out some base response to the genuine scary stuff that we can’t control in our lives—finding ways to make the unimaginable semi-real enough to deal with it one way or another; even if we can only do it by identifying with a hero or heroine battling those zombie-nasties on the 60-inch screen at the foot of our recliner. Perhaps through those mock-heroes, we also find a way to survive our lives, just like the survivors of those horror shows—some way, somehow, we make it to next week’s episode.
There actually was an original purpose for human’s feeling fear. It was an early-warning survival tactic. It provided the quick spurt of adrenaline into our bloodstream to defend ourselves to the max of our ability, or to run like the dickens to avoid the problem—the fight or flight response.
But in today’s world, and throughout our lives, we face numerous situations that require us to stand our ground, or not be bullied, or to speak up for ourselves and others when it would be much easier to say nothing.
That’s when we have to dig really deep and make the hard choices that reveal so much about whether we view ourselves as life’s victims or as the last, remaining, battered survivors of the “zombie apocalypse”—sometimes you simply have to face down your fears and take a stand against the undead in your life—even if they are only imaginary.
I talk a lot about self-empowerment in my classes, and to me that means taking back your own power and operating from a place of NO fear. It’s amazing how un-empowered many of us presently feel in our world.
Part of the problem may be that we are so used to doing whatever we do, the way we have always done it, that we may not recognize how we are unconsciously giving our own power away: to the demanding boss, to the spoiled kids, to the dominant spouse, to our grousing friends, to the belligerent neighbors, to the cranky clerk in the store, to the pushy attendant at the Quick-Stop-Shop, to the service manager at the car dealership trying to convince us that our car needs more repairs than it really does, etc.
To simply get along in this world (to survive), we learned early on how to accommodate and appease, especially if we were small or more fragile than others; or if we lacked confidence and self-esteem.
From childhood onwards, many of us learned how to dodge and weave around parent accusations, or to avoid direct confrontations; or how to manipulate our benefactors by cowering before them or complementing them, or making them feel even more powerful (and hopefully more beneficent) to our lack of power; because we thought that they, in turn, would protect us, or at least, not harm us further.
But in the very act of giving them our acceptance or allegiance, we conceded our ability to decide our own lives, and determine our own destinies. It isn’t really a surprise to learn that intimidators need acquiescers to function, or they simply cease to matter.
But it also isn’t a surprise to learn that standing your ground and facing down your fears isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially if you are new to doing it.
So perhaps we can try a simple test first before we go all-Rambo on the next person who even scowls at us. Maybe we can practice saying “NO” to the next thing we feel obligated to doing; or saying “NO” to the salesman who insists that we could look much better in the seat of that higher-dollar vehicle than we can comfortably afford; or saying “NO” to something that we know we will later resent doing, if forced into doing it.
Self-empowerment means empowering yourself to take control of your own life, and to stop giving that control over to anyone else who might want to take it from you.
It might seem too simple to be true, but perhaps the actual place of NO fear is just learning to say “NO” to someone else’s expectation for you, and really meaning it.