As we age stress, high levels of cortisol (the dreaded cortisol dump from the fight or flight response), people-pleasing, not standing up for ourselves in appropriate ways, and not living our best lives is, well, AGING!!!
It shows on our faces, in our joints, in our digestion, through our concentration and through our emotional stability.
There is no reason we can't face our fears of others' reactions to what we need or want especially when it is not outrageous but just a part of living a healthy life.
This means through ALL of our aging - from the time we begin BEING in relationships until we are elderly.
After 25 years of a really difficult relationship I decided to release my fears of retribution, abandonment, and judgment and be completely honest and transparent.
By expressing myself genuinely, and with integrity (for the betterment of the relationship) it took letting go of my fears.
When I addressed the pain in this relationship, and took responsibility for my actions, emotions and behavior, a magical thing happened.
Don't get me wrong, the person was definitely resistant in the beginning.
Typically there would be escalated yelling, walking away, slamming down the phone or non-communication for months on end.
I refused to allow this to happen.
I was very frank.
And, BOY, did I set myself up for epic failure. Not too many people are willing or able to have a mirror put up to their face and take a good hard look. I'll admit it took me a while to become a student of my own behavior.
It pays off in the long run.
How could I stand around for one more minute without at least trying to make the situation better?
How could I turn my back on all of my meditation and healing arts training without feeling a complete charlatan? A fraud?
"Do as I say, not as I do"?
In the end things are changing and efforts are being made.
Being honest and transparent, in a loving way, has had an overarching affect on my ENTIRE existence.
Releasing the fear of confrontation and accepting that confrontation happens released fear in many areas of my life.
Hey, better late than never. CLICHÉ but true.
How has it manifested in other areas of my life?
I’m not fearful of speaking up when I get bad service.
I WILL send food back with a pleasant tone in my voice, a smile and a please and thank you.
I’m not fearful of calling it out when someone is rude, unkind, discriminatory or out right nasty.
Firmly AND kindly.
A genuine smile, please, thank you, and NOT FLIPPING OUT, goes a LONG way.
In general, this has been greeted with little or no pushback which surprised me on many levels.
I have been gently warned by those closest to me that caring too much what others think can be paralyzing.
I have asked myself numerous times: "How did you go for so long being a people-pleaser and FEARING the ramifications and repercussions of standing up for yourself and expressing yourself?"
I used the excuse that I was in entertainment for SO many years and was trained to give people what they wanted in terms of my behavior.
It's an industry of insecurity, of desperation and of awe-inspiring creativity. Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it?
An industry where you may be flying high one moment and road kill the next.
Remarkable highs and soul-killing lows.
Yeah, so what? So are most big industries.
It's an excuse.
Here's a non-sequitar:
The incredible thing is my lifelong fear of spiders has disappeared.
I love all of Mother Nature’s creatures, even the creepy ones.
I have no problem with snakes and lizards, but I really struggled with spiders or centipedes.
....or any bugs from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
I was standing in my driveway and a spider crawled in front of my toes. Instead of stepping on it, screeching, or running away I knelt down and watched it.
Have you ever watched a spider? It’s nothing short of mesmerizing.
I’ve started watching spiders build webs on my lanai.
Now I gently wrangle them from inside the house and take them outside.
It makes me think of Charlotte's Web by E.B. White.
They are fascinating creatures.
Granted, we recoil from anything with a myriad of appendages. It's just alien.
NOW I’m excited and thinking "What’s next?"
What other lurking fears - conscious, subconscious or unconscious - can I acknowledge as unfounded when they bubble up?
Of course, I don’t plan on being reckless.
I still listen to my fight or flight responses... the dangerous ones.
I live near alligators and sharks. I have a healthy respect and admiration for them AND I keep a respectable distance.
Even in my travels abroad a healthy fear includes staying safe amongst exotic creatures and unfamiliar peopled places.
Maybe it’s because I watch the youth of our country stand up for their own safety, protection, and freedom of expression to live healthy, happy and productive lives.
If they can do it, why can't I?
That being said, I STILL deal with claustrophobia.
I know EXACTLY where that manifested...
...from a mean little girl - the child of my parent's friends when I was young.
She used to lock me in the basement laundry room of our apartment building and turn out the lights.
OR hold me under water in the swimming pool.
I get it.
She had her own issues.
Luckily, I still love to swim.
AND I'm not afraid of the dark.
I made peace with those pesky little demons years ago.
Nevertheless, forget about getting me into one of those dark, haunted houses.
Or an MRI machine...
I'm not taking baby steps anymore but, unfortunately, all the shadows don't disappear overnight.
You aren't going to tell a bunch of stories and end the article with no examples on what you do to address your fears, are you?
No, I'm not!
Mindset, Meditation, Movement, Music AND...
...learning to love myself.
What fears are you overcoming to pro-age?
(Click the Meditation and Qigong tab above for some ideas to help you with any fears.)
As always, thanks for reading.
See you again next week!