Saturday, 21 September 2013
The thing about fear
Here's the thing about fear.
It is thinking about future bad scenarios. If I think about future bad scenarios, I will experience them as though they are actually happening. Consequently I will feel bad now, as though the thing in the future is already occurring now.
There is a purpose to thinking about future bad scenarios, namely, planning whether I am going to take any defensive, preventative, or evasive action.
Once I have analysed the future scenario sufficiently in order to be able to devise my defensive, preventative, or evasive action, there is no further purpose in living in the future.
If I say I have lots of fear, that means I have been deliberately living in the future. There is not a lot of point in complaining about something I'm doing to myself. My question, therefore, is why, when temptation to fear arises, I do not turn to God and deliberately think positive thoughts and consider constructive action.
I must be getting something out of it, and enjoying it in some way.
I have had to learn not to be a victim of fear and to take responsibility for my own thoughts and therefore my own emotional life.
In a bad situation, my job is to invoke the power of God, by visualising future scenarios and affirming that God will help me through them.
An example is this: sometimes I get a little worried about the future, and specifically my finances. What I can do is say this: 'I trust that, whatever happens, God will look after me. I trust that God will always find ways of making me useful and that, if I stay useful, the world will give me enough for me to survive and have a decent life. I believe this because I have seen this occur universally around me in AA. God, let me dispel these irrational fears and remember that I can always be OK holding Your hand in the moment'.
I have to make sure that no negative word passes my mouth and that I'm relentlessly cheerful and positive with everyone I meet. I don't always manage, but that is the ideal.
A question to someone who's had a bad day is this, 'have you let negative thoughts rest in your mind, and have you said anything negative or done anything that is not constructive?'
It is no good running to God saying 'help me, help me, help me', when I am running around expressing negative sentiments and doing unhelpful things.
God will do for me what I cannot do for myself, but he will not sew up my mouth or bind my hands to prevent me from saying or doing things I shouldn't say or do.
God will also not say my prayers for me. A childish prayer is one in which I ask God to save me and wait like a bird straining its neck for the worm. An adult prayer is one in which I affirm, over and over, that I have already been saved by God, and that the illusions in my head do not reflect reality.
There are surely difficult situations and there is surely pain in life. All of what I have said above is not to dismiss either of those two facts.
The question when things are difficult is how I am responding to them and whether I am using the tools that have been given to me.
Last year, a very close relative suffered a stroke. Naturally, there was some fear and trepidation. But I refused to dwell on either and focused instead on how I was going to invoke God's power to concentrate on what I could do practically about the difficult situation. I endeavoured to remain cheerful, useful, and kind whatever happened, and thereby was able to contribute to the person's recovery. God surely helped me, but I had to start by helping myself.