Creative Decision Making-Dealing With Fear

If this is not the number one challenge we deal with in our lives it is pretty close to it.  I don’t think we ever get completely passed it unless we are some kind of an enlightened guru similar to the one in the story of the knight who came upon the Zen monk in the middle of the road and said to the monk, “Out of my way or I’ll run my sword through your stomach. The Zen monk replied, “Out of my way or I’ll wrap my stomach around your sword.”

We have natural instincts to protect ourselves from physical harm and or discomfort. These seem to be hardwired to keep us from harm’s way, and for the most part they are there to stay.

It is the projection of negative outcomes from future imagined events that drives us up a wall with worry and stress. One technique that really helped and continue to do so  is referred to as “Peeling The Onion.” Here you are searching for the outcome to a projected outcome which you can live with. I’ll take a really difficult situation and you can see what I mean.

The ideas is to take the imagined negative outcome and ask yourself the question, “ What’s so bad about this happening? Then sit with the outcome. Think about it. Look at it from as many points of view as you can. The goal is to continue to ask yourself that question until you realize a shift in your emotional state: one to relief. That condition becomes  your base: it is the place where it is all ok ,and the cascade of negative chemicals stops flowing in your body.

So let’s say you are afraid of losing your job. The answer to the question “What’s so bad” turns out to be,  “I won’t be able to make my mortgage payment.”

The next peel of the onion. “What’s so bad about not making your mortgage payment? Answer. “ I’ll lose my house.

The next peel. What’s so bad about losing my house?  Answer, I’ll lose all of my savings which were all tied up in my house equity. I’ll be broke. I have a wife and child.

What’s so bad about this? Answer: I’ll feel ashamed that I took such a great risk and failed to take care of my family.   We can move in with her parents until I get on my feet, but I will feel embarrassed about that.

The next peel. What’s so bad about feeling shame and embarrassment? ( Shame is a very difficult emotional state.) ?

Core answer for example in this case( finding that rational state referred to above where the negative internal chemicals stop flowing)

Saying to myself, “lots of people have gotten caught in this severe economic down turn( Why should I be so hard on myself?) and lots of people are getting help from parents I’m no different. I was a little careless, but I can find a job of some kind, and we can downscale to smaller rental if need be, as soon as that happens.

The point is that you peel until you find a state of rationalization and peace of mind. In this example if you lose your job you tell yourself you will move in with her parents until you can get another job and another start.  The loss of job outcome may never and you have defanged your fear stopping the cascade of negative chemicals. For someone else the move to the parents’ home is not an option. So they must continue the exercise, but see if this exercise works with something you are worried about. Share your experience.

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