Fearlessness

Fearlessness

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE? Three or more team meetings

WHY DO THIS? To remove Fear as an obstacle in the way of leading a fulfilling life

WHAT SUPPORT IS NEEDED? This list

WHO CAN HELP? John Butler

WHAT IS THE TEAM’S ROLE? Commitment, vulnerability, confidentiality

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?

Robert Bly and Joseph Campbell suggest that men should follow their bliss if they want a fulfilling life. Some other teacher who is obscure to me said that the better way to find a fulfilling life is to face down your fears. This process presents an organized way to do confront your fears. It is about a 3 week exercise.

Fear is a natural reaction to threatening events. The classic reactions to fear are flight, freeze or fight, and as you can image none of those lead you to a fulfilling life. So, if you want fulfillment, then turn your awareness to your fears and face them honestly and sanely.

Becoming aware of your fears is straightforward, just make an organized list of your top 100 fears. If you do this annually at the same time every year, (birthday, New Years, July 4th -freedom or whatever day makes sense to you) then you will see your progression towards a healthy consciousness around your life and your potential. If the same fear lines up year after year, then you are frozen by it. If your fear simply morphed to a different version of the same calamity, then you are basically trying unsuccessfully to run away from your fears and they change shape but remain running your life. If your fear gets greater each year, then you are fighting your fear because what you resist will persist.

If on the other hand, you sincerely release a fear, then per force transformation has occurred.

Each man has at least a hundred solid fears… so begin by making a systematic list… categorize your fears around topics like money, death and dying, health, relationship, sex, family, career and so forth. If you launch over 100 fears easily, then you need to group your fears… so example if you are listing that you are afraid of rattlesnakes, cobras, water moccasins, and so forth, you need to group them together and admit you are afraid of poisonous snakes. If on the other hand, you cannot get to 100 solid fears, then you have lumped them together and need to explore the tributaries… say for example you say you are afraid of public speaking… well are you afraid people will not pay attention to you, that you will not have anything important to say, that they will notice that you are not dressed according to expectations etc.

Use good judgment here, there is not limit to the number of fears you list, but a long cumbersome list can be unwieldy in some instances, but for some other fears, the more detail the more helpful. If you are afraid you will never get to see the Aurora Borealis, visit the Taj Mahal and explore the Amazon, then you need to do a reality check on your values, if exotic travel is a high value, then list them all, if not, then group them together as a fear of being dull (or whatever the fear is) and move on to a more important issue. If you are afraid to commit to your beloved in marriage, when relationship is a high value, by all means, break it down to each fearful nuance.

Fear of abandonment, of intimacy, of commitment, of falling, of heights, of flying, of singing in public and so forth are all ok to list- it is best not to judge the worthiness, validity or manliness of your fears at this stage.

The first week of the process is to set the context on the team, talk together about fears in general. Then explain and assign homework to make your list of 100 fears. The next meeting, or once you have your list, then share them together in the team in a non judgmental and compassionate manner. The third meeting will be for “processing’ your fears.

Here are some notes to help in the processing of fears.

Studies have shown that the vast majority of fears never come true. The catch is that some of them do not come true because of good pre-planning to alleviate the fear, but in actuality the vast majority of fears are unrealistic. Here is a simple way to process fears, using some acronyms.

Future Events Appearing Rational- all the fears that you have that are projections of the future are to some extent unrealistic and should be put into this category. If you are worried about something that is very unlikely to happen, you are wasting energy. I used to be afraid of bank failures, and so would have money in a half dozen banks at all times, other people are afraid of starving and hoard food or bring lots of food with them wherever they go— these are for the most part unrealistic in current day. Fears falling into this category should be noted. On the other hand, there is value in taking precautions to address some fears, for example most people do not have catastrophic result from routine surgery, but a small percentage do and so it is prudent to prepare a will and power of attorney when going in for surgery. Your teammates can give you a reality check on fears related to the future.

At the core, I think you will find that many fears about the future are simply projections.

False Evidence Appearing Real. Some fears are simply not based on facts, they are based on suppositions that are influenced by our personal filter…when we run our lives on fears that are not reality based we are unproductive and to some extent perhaps even dysfunctional. If you are afraid your partner is having an affair, then do a reality check and look honestly at the evidence before investing energy into reacting to that fear.

There are something which we fear that are outside our personal power to resolve. Worrying about them is pointless, they will happen or not and there is nothing much we can do to alleviate the consequences. Our teenage child is home late, we can either relax and deal with it when they show up or worry about them being in a car accident or being kidnapped and then deal with it from an anxious and upset place. Until they show up, we are powerless to deal with it beyond certain logical things like calling them to see where they are, texting them to see when they will be home and so on.

Fairly Evident and Real. These are current day concerns that should be resolved. Cannot get an erection once or twice, not a big deal, but if it happens more than rarely, then face your fear of impotence and go see a doctor. Afraid of being ridiculed for being fat, then work on regulating your calorie intake and exercise. Afraid of taking on too much debt, then work to manage your money according to more conservative values.

Fairly Existential and Real. There are some comic fears that most healthy people have. Fear of being left alone when our partner dies for example. This is a common fear, but if not dealt with in a timely manner can become emotionally consumptive and also have a huge impact once it happens. Other existential fears are fear of retiring, of the kids leaving home (empty nest), growing old and infirm and so forth. There are a number of real time details that accompany each of these existential fears, for example if the fear is growing old and infirm the remedy is to begin a workable exercise program now.

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John Butler

Momentum is a local, not-for-profit men’s community.

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