The little green dude out of Star Wars, otherwise known as Yoda, had a point when he uttered the words,
“fear is the path to the dark side, fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering”.
Fear comes in many forms but ultimately it’s a psychological state born out of uncertain negative feelings or doubts with regard to possible occurrences that may or may not happen in the future. In the film, “After Earth”, Will Smith’s character, Cypher Raige, states that
“fear is not real, the only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future, it is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist”…“Now don’t misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice…”
Unless you have a very deep rooted irrational fear whereby the fear in your mind is instigated at a subconscious level and is therefore not a choice, parts of this statement should ring true with most people. It certainly did with me as for the first 32 years of my life, I let fear control me when all along it should have been the other way around and it took a failed marriage to make me realise where I was going wrong.
Cypher Raige’s statements are somewhat ideological. Very few people are completely fearless and therefore fear is something that we must contend with. In fact, I would go so far as to say that fear can be a good thing. It can aid us in our perception of danger and enable us to take appropriate actions to minimise the risk associated with that danger. If you have no sense of fear, then how can you perceive danger, which could potentially lead to premature death? A fear of premature death is a good thing because it stops us from stepping out in front of that car or jamming that metal knife into the live toaster to pry out that piece of toast that’s gotten lost in there. However, it should also be noted that there are circumstances where premature death, or the potential for it, is out of ones control (e.g. a victim of a terrorist attack or a child diagnosed with a terminal illness), but having never been through that kind of experience, I am not qualified to comment on the fear associated with those scenarios, so will quickly draw a line under that one.
What I would like to talk more about, is the fear that we encounter in our normal day to day lives. This is something that I am well qualified to talk about because I have lived with it for most of my life. On the BMT post on the 26th of May, there was a discussion about chips… well… fear was my chip. From as young as I can remember, I wouldn’t say boo to a goose. People would use words like ‘shy’, ‘reserved’ or ‘quiet’ to describe me, but the truth was that in my mind I was fearful of what people would think of me, how I looked in their eyes and how they would react to me if I tried to communicate with them. I had minimal self esteem and a very low sense of self worth.
This affected my behaviour on a day to day basis.
I would find it hard to talk to people… especially… girls… because I was fearful of the reaction that I would get and how that would ultimately make me feel. As I entered my teenage years, the combination of a fear chip and unbalanced hormone secretions did make me rather angry as Yoda predicts. Angry at other people though?… somewhat. But mostly angry at myself for having carried my fear chip for so long. For the most part, I covered the anger up, primarily because I was afraid of what people would think if I let it go, but this ultimately led to me being bullied because my peers knew exactly what buttons to push to get me to explode in a fit of rage.
As I went through university, the fear and the anger did lead to hate. I didn’t like people very much but I wouldn’t really say that I hated them because that is a strong word. The dislike of people was a symptom of my fear of them, but there was one person that I did hate and that was myself. I hated myself for being fearful and angry, for not having any self esteem, for being over weight and being unhealthy.
After leaving university and starting full time employment, I subscribed to an online dating website, found a girl and a few years later we got married and we lived happily ever after, right?…well… kind of. The fact was I was still carrying my fear chip and now that I was married, the honeymoon period was over and we had a son together, I didn’t realise what a profound impact that would have on our relationship. I did love her, but I was oblivious to the fact that those feelings I had for her amplified my fear chip ten fold.
I was afraid of losing her because I knew I had no confidence, very low self-esteem and absolutely no self love. This made me needy and dependent on her which is basically one of the most dependable ways to turn a woman off. Just being a nice guy and treating her right wasn’t enough.
When you’re convinced that something bad is going to happen, you’ll usually find a way to make it become a reality.
I’m not saying that she was completely blameless, after all it does take two to break a marriage, but ultimately she did leave me and took our son with her.
At this point, I could have turned my hatred of myself on her… but I didn’t. I let her go and let her take my son without any challenge…. Why?… because as Yoda says, “hate leads to suffering” and this is very true. Especially when you consider that the suffering doesn’t just affect yourself, but it effects everyone around you, especially the young, especially my son.
Instead of redirecting my hate, I decided to stop and take a long hard look at myself because at this point I was still completely unaware of my fear chip. I wanted to know why my wife had left me. What had I done that had influenced her decision?
I did a lot of research into female psychology, what women look for in a man and realized that I was the exact opposite. I had to change who I was.
I started by losing my excess weight, all 80+lbs of it. My body was transformed, but mentally I still had a lot of work to do. I needed to learn how to believe in myself, believe that I could be the best possible version of myself in order to become the person that I want to be.
This is a journey that I’m still on, I’m still working towards. But one thing is for sure… my fear chip has been ditched in favour of a hope chip. After all, as Jarrod states in his post of 5th June, “Without Hope… we are lost!”.
I no longer fear the future, after all, what will be, will be. I can only hope that in the future I will be happy and since I ultimately have control over my own happiness the outcome is a no-brainer really.
So today, are you going to let fear control you?… or are you going to take control of whatever fears you may have and live your life the way you want to live and be the person that you want to be?… the choice is yours and yours alone.