Here is how to not let fear hold you back

Do you ever come to an understanding of why a really difficult thing happened?
I think we all want to know the reason for suffering… Right? Maybe?
People really do want to know though. At least the Meaning of what would’ve been if it could help us to understand the reasons to murder and hate, to reject and discriminate, exclude and segregate. All these horrible inconceivable actions are rooted in fear.
At the core of this question of suffering, I think his fear.
What do you think? What is at the core of it for you?
Fear is one of the most universal experiences. Fear of the other, fear of the loss of power, fear of knowing what is true, fear of losing a part of who we are, and so many other grappling foundational aspects of life.

Fear of spiders, fear of heights, and fear of the dark, fear of intimacy. These are the common ones that we often hear about.

Fear is not as universal as pain because I cannot say fear is fear like I can say pain is pain. There is a universal characteristic of fear that allows us to all understand it in a very similar way. There something really unique about fear; fear is connected to our unique individual experience, our interactions with the world around us and what we believe about ourselves. This is what makes up our reality or at least what we believe our reality is. Often times there are false interpretations in this reality and we believe them as if they are truth. This is where fear plants its roots.
When people ask me if I am afraid of anything I tell them the only thing I am afraid of is the unknown. This is kind of funny because it is the easy way out. Answering I am afraid of the unknown is like saying I am afraid of everything.
Have you heard the acronym for fear? It stands for false evidence appearing real. This essentially means fear is the possibility of something happening that we may not be able to conceive or imagine through the lens of our reality.
So If I were to answer the question more honestly I would say yes I am afraid of spiders, yes, I am afraid of heights, and yes I am afraid of intimacy.
So the question should not be what are we fearful of or what are we afraid of but how do you act with fear, interact with fear and how do you embrace fear. This is the transformational question that can be deeply empowering. It makes us our own agents of change. It says you have the choice to act in the face of fear and you have the choice to run or embrace.

The reason we often run from what we are fearful of is because it is scary to imagine what will happen, what the reality is and what it could be. We get so caught in what could happen that we forget to attach a feeling to the fear.
We think fear is the feeling.
Fear is not a feeling. Fear is an experience, a way to view reality; it’s a perspective, it’s a perceived interaction with what could happen.

What if we attached a feeling to our fears?
Like, I am worried that I will be rejected again.
I am scared that the airplanes engine will stop working
I am anxious because I am not sure if they will say yes
I feel sad because I do not want to go back to the place where I was hurt
I feel frustrated because I can not know whether this person accepts me or not.
I am concerned I will not be able to advocate for myself because the other person is a bully
I feel stuck because the other person will not listen
I feel unworthy because somebody treated me unfairly.

The more we are able to attach feelings to our fears the more we will be able to see that they are not based in the reality of what our possibility could be in the future. If we are honest our feelings attached to fear are based in our desire to control what happens in the future. What often happens is the feelings wrap us up in the fear and they give us a false reality. These fears are real, they are a part of our experience, but they are not reality.

What is reality?
Our reality is that we are smarter and more superior over the spider
The airplane flew just fine on its last flight and has proven itself billions of times
You can not change other people, but you can improve or change your approach
You can ask the question and learn from it and enjoy the experience
You can embrace the pain and redeem the hurt
You can have strength and the power to take the next step

Fear holds us back but fear doesn’t have to hold us back if we see it for what it is. Fear tells us what it. What is this, what is that, maybe this’ll happen. But Instead of asking what if maybe we should be saying “you can”, or better yet, “what if you did blank blank blank”.
This is not a change of behavior change, but a change in the way we perceive ourselves, the world and how we interact with both of those. I understand how hard this is. I am writing this because I am in the middle of the fight; the fight to fight fear, the fight to fight anger, the fight to fight resentment, the fight against the voice that says you can’t. I am beginning to wonder if we should continue to fight fighting fear, fighting anger, fighting resentment.
Maybe we should connect with it, see what it is teaching us and put a feeling to it. I think when we put feeling to it then we are able to increase its value and see it as part of our experience. When we experience something that we come to believe is true then there is power to take action, whether it is a positive or negative turn, it will be up to us.
Each time we make this decision there is an opportunity to change and transform.

So what does it look like to get over fears?
Step 1: We need to embrace it.
If we do not embrace fear then we will not be open to the feedback. We need to listen to the spider that is up in the corner of your room, just as we need to listen to the person that has discriminated and rejected us. This is part of loving our enemies. The reality is that our enemies will not even know this is happening because it is transforming ourselves first, which will allow us to love our neighbor because we will have loved our self. Part of embracing fear is embracing our self.
When we are loved then we can take the next step. Steps can be taken other ways, but it will carry resentment and anger. overcoming fear can and will take us to the core of who we are because it will reveal many layers at one time and bring up so many past experiences. Our goal after embracing our fear though is to tell it how it makes us feel.
Step 2: the conversation
Seriously as silly as it sounds have a nice conversation with it. Ask it where it comes from and what you would really like done about it.
If there is a spider on your wall and you are freaking out
Say ok I see you fear of spiders; I am worried that the spider is going to attack me and bite me with its poisonous venom. Spider fear where do you come from, when was the first time you were in my life and why did you show up. Spider fear when you showed up, what was it about you that actually scared me?
This is an example of the conversation with fear. This conversation happens already, but takes place in a much different way. Conclusions usually come before questions are able to be asked and an action takes place before we can realize we reacted to fear.
Step 3: step into it
To interact with the fear we need to take a step into it. I do not want to talk about conquering fears just yet. No need to get high and mighty just slow and steady. If it is spiders then find a spider and just look at it from a far and take a step closer to it. If it is the dark then step into it and do something fun in the dark. I do not like taking the trash out when it is dark because I fear a critter like a raccoon or skunk will attack me, but if I take the step to open the door to take a step outside and then go get the trash after seeing the coast is clear, and then it becomes much easier to take it to the big trash can outside.
We just need to be able to put one foot in front of another. This is how we interact with the fear. If we put one foot in front of the other then the fear does not hold us back. Conquering fears is not about erasing them, but not allowing them to hold us back. We can never get rid of fear, but we can know and learn how to take action in spite of them. Even if I were to conquer the fear of a raccoon or skunk attacking me then I would fear an attack of the boogie man. Fear is a constant, but the way that we respond to it does not have to remain a constant.

If you want to have some fun with fear then create a 30 day fear breaker. Make a list of 30 things that you are scared of, anxious about, worry about, become timid when faced with, or even just scared to initiate. Then take smalls steps into them and make it fun. The only way to get past a fear is to interact with it.
If you have a fear of spiders then get a toy spider and put it on your friend’s keyboard.
If you are afraid of heights then have a stair race to the top with a friend or hike a hill.
Fears are attached to our core and can often be quite deep issues to deal with, but I believe we can answer the difficult questions in life like what to do with suffering if we take one step at a time.
Here are good resources on going farther
Rejection therapy Jia Jiang

The war of art
Necessary endings

a great counselor, Jennifer Schatz at hope counseling center

my second chance: how I came to believe in redemption and restoration


a chance is always given, but is it always taken. a second chance can only be made a send chance when it is accepted, received and enacted upon. I would say there are better second chance’s than others some may find their second chance in drugs, school, rehab, but the one second chance that will not have to make you look for another one is Jesus. I did not know that right away when I was looking for my second chance. You see I was only able to get through my onset of my disease that would soon make me blind because of the strength that I found in my sister. at the age of 16 when most kids would be getting their driver’s license, going on first dates, winning championships, getting good grades to get into a good college, getting their first job. well those things were not able to happen for me. I did not have the mind set or the adherence to take this push back in stride. as a teenager that was still forming his identity I took this as a step backwards instead of asking myself what can I do with this, I asked myself what does this make me. to my friends at the time felt it made me lesser of a person because well they left me. at first emotionally, but then physically. I had already been battling not being able to do things the way I had before. I was pretty much lost in school, was not useful at work, hockey team could not use me, I did not know what to do at home, and girls that I desired wanted nothing to do with me.

I was grasping for something to give me a hint of life to keep me above water. I did that, but I did it to a point where I was just getting through the days, not caring to much about life, disregarding it had any meaning, but just caring about feeling good . I thought I found my second chance when I met this girl that I feel head over heels for. I thought I found meaning and reason for my disease. it was to led me to this girl. it was my second chance that was going to redeem all my previous relationships and finally find someone that would accept me for me. well that fairy tale did not come true. Some the next 11 months I was heartbroken over that girl and continued my voyage of trying to feel good and keep my head above water. to sum up the next 2 and a half years, I spent it trying to find my second chance in girls, mainly one abusive one that I kept giving the better part of my heart too. needless to say my second chance efforts were wearing thin. I had become desperate in my efforts to find a girl. I had never been a spiritual person, but I always felt life had more of a meaning that what I was being raised to believe, even though spirituality  was not a big topic in my house I still could not break away from this idea that things happen for a reason and there is meaning for what happens in life. my pursuit of girls had distracted me from thinking about this any deeper and once I met “the” girl my mind and heart was just focused on pleasing her, sweeping her off her feet, and making sure she did not leave. well I was successful in that, but little did I realize there was a meaning and purpose for being with her because she had played a role in my drawing near to Jesus. I would soon find out when I would move away to go to UCSB and Jesus would finally show me it is time to give my life over to him. this was the beginning of my second chance, but I did not yet realize it. I was still learning that I was accepted and did not have to try to be anything or do something to please anybody which included god. I think acceptance is the basis of a good second chance. my second chance was built on finding meaning for all the things that happened earlier in my life. the loss of friends, not being able to drive, not being able to go away to school and play hockey, all the heart breaks, the emotional void I had with my parents. there was all a purpose for those things. they were intricately woven to make sure I knew I was deeply and long fully thought about and loved. it took a while for me to understand this, but once I did I started to make sense of all the things in my life. the biggest thing I realized though in this process is that this second chance is not a fresh start or a reboot, but it is a sort of redemption. I still had all the things that happen to me in the past and the impact that it will continue to have on my life, but I was now able to see that the second chance allowed me to put a new meaning to those things that happen to me. this had not only allowed me to be grateful for the hardships, but it allowed me to view and love people in a different way. I was hopeful which is something I could never say before. I was able to find meaning and purpose in my life like there was a reason for me being in Santa Barbara, me having the major I did, and meeting seemingly random people. living this life full of meaning did not only give me peace and hope for what was once broken, but it allowed me to life for something other than myself. I saw others and the reason that I am was to do something bigger than what I wanted to do earlier in my life. something bigger than playing hockey and sweeping girls off their feet. it was to make known this restoration and redemption that happened in my life and show others that they are surely loved. I was able to see where I was at had a reason, where I had been had a reason, and where I will be will have a reason. the only question that is left is what am I going to choose that reason to be. that is the thing about a second chance, it is a choice and you have to choose it and you are responsible for that choice.

the choice that I am making now is to love my past, to love my core, to love myself, and to love my god, so that I can love others. I am a firm believer in the restoration process that I went through. my impairment has allowed me to be prepared to invite others into that process, so they too can have justice with their past. I would like to be able to join both of these things together and teach and implement a restorative justice program that redeems sociological and personal problems, so that others can have hope too.

the toughest thing i have had to do… ending a redemptive process so that the redemptive process can continue

Last year on this date of march 31 I understood and began to believe and personally experience what it meant to walk a life of redemption. Fitting that it was Easter and that I attended a church service  that was outdoors in the pouring rain, I guess you can say I had literally been made clean. Well for the juice of the story this Easter had pretty much nothing to do with it, but I had just returned from a trip to the middle east with a group of friends for a short trip over there. Yes the trip was great but it pushed me to my ends and when I hit my end I had nowhere to go except to a place of redemption. 

I have gone through some pretty difficult, intense, dark, testing circumstances in my life. I don’t want to compare or rank those times because that would be a joy killer, but what I want to display is a tough scenario that has become tough because I have been through all the previous trials. I may have not known it at the time but the dark, testing, difficult  messy trials had instilled hope in me. When I was going through  each situation I did not know or realize what I was putting my hope in.

Later as my perseverance was turning into character I realized that my hope was found in a sort of redemption. All the things that had tested me before had a purpose. They had a rhyme and reason like to show me that you never have to be at the end of your rope because there is always hope. Since there is always hope  and you can rejoice in your suffering.

You are probably asking what is this tough thing that the title refers too

Well, turn to the present, it is giving up on a process of redemption. You see redemption is a process. It is a grueling, painfully  slow process, but it so joyful and refreshing. It is that way because when things are redeemed then they are transformed they turn an old thing new, they make something bad into good, it brings hope out of despair. For me these things are all things I find true and have experienced on a personal level, but I had yet to enter into a process of redemption, at least a significant one, and give up on it. to quit, to back out, to recognize that this is not redemption anymore was the biggest feat. It was Something that all the hope in the world could not fix. There is a point when redemption does not become redemption anymore, there is a point when perseverance is not perseverance anymore and when it becomes a fight against  a wall. Fighting does not build character it just builds pain and resentment, and calluses. 

So why did I quit and why has this been so difficult?

Redemption is purely relational and there is a point when redemption digresses away from being redemptive. That is when the relationship is unhealthy  and yes it can be redeemed again, but hurt and pain will have to be dealt with in the most sympathetic time sensitive manner possible. Redemption takes full cooperation and desire from both parties and for this to happen there needs to be honesty and truth. The humbling and difficult part about this is that I did not come baring full truth and honesty and because I did not do that I started a crack in a redemptive process between myself and this other person. I did not realize this until the problem was imbedded in our process. This crack eventually built  into a split that brought us to a place where we could not trust each other  and growth had become absent. Redemption is a growing process and when it does not progress then it becomes unhealthy. This hurt so much because it was something I had responsibility of and I took the easy way out by not fully disclosing myself which is dishonesty. Not only did I hurt somebody I deeply cared about ; I had to give up on a process of redemption because it was no longer healthy. I broke trust, made somebody feel personally emotionally and spiritually rejected and disrespected which is the opposite of the basis of love and redemption. A restorative relationship can not happen if you keep on crashing. as one of the drivers of this redemptive car I needed to exit because I was causing some painful crashes and exiting a moving car hurts. ( this is a metaphor)