The Voice Of Fear


That used to really make me really mad.

And now?

I see it so different.

In a previous chapter I talked about change and how difficult it is to make and all the things that stand in the way of us making changes. Growth and change are not the same thing, because when we make a change it doesn't necessarily mean we will grow. I often hear people talk about how they have grown after a crisis or difficult situation, but most of the time this is not growth but rather a change because of a fear shift.


For example:


Let's say a person is a heavy smoker and they have a heart attack which motivates them to quit smoking. Is this growth or just a fear shift? I would say it is a fear shift because fear of death was the motivator for change. Growth is different than change. When the person decides to face their fears and discover why they smoked in the first place before the heart attack, this would be growth.


When fear brings about change it is not growth. That is not to say the person will not grow if they make changes, but when fear is the initial motivator it is not called growth. Growth requires that you make the choice to face your fears directly and surrender to them because you no longer want them to have control over you.  Here is a story of mine that involved true growth.




 Rush Hour/Fear Hour


Ever since I started driving I have stressed over traffic. You could say that some of this is normal, (after all nobody likes traffic) but mine was more than that. As I got older I noticed that I avoided anything that might require me to put up with traffic. It got to the point that I gave myself lots of praise for avoiding traffic. If I could find a way around it I was king. When I was driving up to go skiing during the week I would go against the flow of traffic. It gave me a rush to see the bumper-to-bumper traffic on the other side of the freeway and know that I wasn’t in it.


When a friend suggested driving into the city (San Francisco), I would almost always say no or come up with excuses not to go. It got to the point where I felt that traffic avoidance was controlling me and the things I did. So one day I took a deep breath and decided to face this fear and get to the root of why I assigned a sentinel to avoid traffic.


I knew that the only way to do this was to go out in to traffic and do nothing to avoid it. That way the emotions would come up and I could examine the sentinel. This may sound easy but I assure you it was not. It took me three months of driving one hour, five days a week in rush hour traffic to break through and find the root of my fear and the creation of my sentinel. At first it took all I had not to “escape” the traffic I had put myself in. I would tell myself to breathe, relax and I talked to my sentinel. I asked my sentinel to stop protecting me from traffic.


The funny thing about sentinels is that they know when you are lying. I was asking for change but I had not fully committed to it in my heart. When a lane opened up next to me, everything in me wanted to switch lanes and escape. But I didn’t. The worst was when the lane next to me was moving and mine was stopped dead. I made sure to put my cell phone earpiece in so as I talked to myself the drivers around me would not think I had lost my mind, but was rather just another motorist talking on the phone.


The first feeling I dealt with was the feeling of being trapped. When the traffic would finally clear it was like I could breathe again and a huge weight was lifted off of my chest. However, I could not come up with anything that led me to believe that this was the root fear. So I dug deeper. I remembered how I praised myself whenever I avoided traffic and how harsh and judgmental I was towards the other “stupid” drivers that weren't as smart as I was. But when I didn't avoid traffic the harsh, judgmental voice was pointed at me. I started to look at how inferior I felt when I didn’t avoid traffic, and this started me down the right path.


I asked myself what happens if you are average, normal, one of the crowd. I found my answer: you don’t get loved! 


As I reflected on this breakthrough I thought about the dynamic between my mother and me. All my praise growing up came from my mother. She found intimacy in me that she did not get from my father. I was a momma’s boy and she took me everywhere with her. Even to the beauty parlor. She couldn't hide the fact that she really wanted a girl. As a child it felt great to get all the attention from her, but I had to be perfect. My mother had such deep trust issues and so much repressed fear that sooner or later she would tell me that I betrayed or abandoned her. It was all or nothing with her.


As a result, I realized that I associated love with being the perfect or above average support system. Failure was not an option. I further realized that when stuck in traffic I felt average, and average people don’t get loved. It was hard enough when you were trying to be the perfect son. That is also why it felt so great when I found the route that no one else thought of and beat the traffic.


It was like a high. Proving my superiority got me one step closer to being loved. As all of this came to me in three months, my emotions shifted because I released my old sentinel. I thanked it for protecting me but it was time for it to go. I created a sentinel of the heart that always reminded me of my goodness and no outcome could change that. Now traffic has become a place of comfort and of acceptance of myself.


I began to look at the others stuck in traffic as a group I could give to. I love letting people in front of me, looking over at them and smiling. Whereas before I had nothing to give and saw all of them as the enemy. Now when I see the break lights ahead and the traffic slowing down I feel like I am joining friends on the great journey of life.

Website Builder