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The Toll Fear Takes
If someone gave you a magic pill to calm your fears, (I’m talking real magic here, not a pill from the pharmacy), how would you live your life? If you weren’t so careful and didn’t play it so safe, what would you do? What would you say? Where would you travel? What would delight you? Who would you be?
Your answers to these questions reveal what a fearful lifestyle may be costing you. And they suggest how your life could be far more satisfying if you were less apprehensive, less alarmed even in this age of terrorism.
Certainly there are times in which it is smart to be afraid. Indeed, there’s often a fine line between feeling fearless and being naïve or just plain stupid. The opposite, however, is also true. Feeling excessive fear limits your ability to enjoy life, work creatively, speak spontaneously, love freely.
Many people do not realize the toll of a fearful lifestyle. Here are just a few of the costs:
A fearful lifestyle constricts thinking. When fear holds sway over your thoughts, it doesn’t matter how well educated or street savvy you are. Fear constricts your ability to think. Before long you may find that you habitually take the easy way out developing a pattern of reflexive nay-saying rather than reflective thought. Worrying about setbacks, troubles, problems or calamities that might befall you (or your loved ones) make it difficult, if not impossible, to think well.
A fearful lifestyle pinches choices. Fear also restricts your ability to take action. Before long, you may find that you approach life with a ‘better safe than sorry’ philosophy and end up spending your days in a too-tight, too-narrow comfort zone. Bypassing the amazing opportunities in this world because you let fear be the deciding factor does not make for a happy camper. Indeed, just the opposite occurs. You become bored, discontent and envious of others who live a more carefree life.
A fearful lifestyle squeezes all the fun, excitement, and juiciness out of life. When fear holds sway over your emotions, you may feel physically exhausted and emotionally depleted. Life feels tough, work feels burdensome, being with others feels oppressive. When fear squeezes the juiciness out of life, what’s left? Two things: the routine, dull, everyday undertakings and the crises, tragedies and hardships of life that none of us can escape.
Aren’t you too smart to let yourself become one of those people who believe that life is “just one damn thing after another?”
Though being scared, at times, is an inevitable, essential part of living, focusing on the hazards and risks of life is not.
Though assessing the dangers of your choice makes a good deal of sense, tossing out the joy and satisfaction that will accompany your choice makes no sense at all.
To learn more about changing a fearful lifestyle, read Master Your Fears: How to Triumph Over Your Worries and Get On With Your Life. This book, written by yours truly, is available at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com or for an autographed copy, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2007: Linda Sapadin, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice who specializes in helping individuals, families and couples overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior.
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