by Lee Anne McClymont
Welcome back. Last week’s article ended with your first assignment. I call that exercise: Running Away: Why Beginnings and Endings Look Alike. With a little practice a pattern will emerge from your stories of fear-filled events and through this process your own personal fear playbook will reveal itself.
From this point on you can determine which approaches to fear work for you and which ones need revision. This conscious choice to see and respond to fear in a new way is a powerful skill. I call this Decision Vision. It allows you to shift your focus so that you will be able to see other ideas and options that may not have occurred to you before. You end up feeling less like a victim because Decision Vision puts you back in the driver’s seat. So fasten your seat belt!
Today’s lesson is called “Framing your Feelings in Language.”
This exercise will show you how to organize your fear vocabulary and then sort through the impact these words have on your feelings. For many people, this is their favorite exercise because it strikes at the heart of all their fear filled experiences. For those readers who have chosen to sketch their way through this series, you may need to include words with your pictures for this exercise to work most effectively.
Words have the power to influence your mind, and, thus, your behavior. Once you put your fear vocabulary down in writing, the power of these words fades. After this exercise you may feel the ground shift. Closely held beliefs about yourself and your own powers will be called into question as they undergo a dramatic revision, thanks to some synonym synergy. Let’s get to work.
How many words do you know that describe fear?
If you need some help, go to a thesaurus. (If you don’t happen to own one, you can find one on line or at the Orange County Public Library.) Becoming familiar with these words will be useful as you advance through this process. This exercise will equip you with a clearer, more precise definition of your actual experiences with fear. The more precise you are now, the more exacting your tools with disengagement will become later.
I will start you off with three words that describe fear.
Can you find at least ten more words that apply to the feeling of fear? Are there any words in the thesaurus that you don’t know? Think about the words you wrote down. Which ones make you cringe? Which ones make you laugh? Re-organize your list, sorting their meaning form mildest to most powerful.
Was this re-organizing difficult for you? If it was, have you ever thought about the language of fear and the way we label our fears? Where did those labels come from?
Do you think you could re-arrange a new list of fears and sort them in a different way? What way would hold the most meaning for you? Let me make a suggestion. Try to organize the same words in a way that mimics chronological development, like this:
Young Adult Fears:
Older years Fears:
Are the words you chose to describe your feelings interchangeable?
Does your list include re-appearing words or experiences? Mine do. Let me explain. I am the youngest of three children. Throughout the course of my life, I learned how to ask for and then to demand equal rights with these two little words: “Me too?” At four years’ old, that phrase was my ticket to anything the older kids could dream up. All I had to do to get whatever they had was to ask my parents this simple question using the saddest voice I owned. It worked most of the time, but there was a downside to this strategy.
As the years carried on, I was growing up and claiming more independence. I had trained Mom and Dad to treat me the very same way they treated my older sister. God bless them. In the interest of fairness, we all got pretty much the same stuff. Soon I was being taken to places my elder sister wanted to go, but I had little interest in: tennis, piano lessons, band. So, many of my fear filled events from childhood and later childhood include circumstances from which I cannot escape. All of these circumstances involved competitive environments. The first thing I would do in the morning of a piano recital wasn’t practice. No. I was way too busy vomiting. My body seemed to know the Big Day was here and I would wake up sick. Oh the fear of knowing that I had to play that duet! I remember my older sister warning me: “Don’t blow it and make us both look like fools!” Isn’t’ odd how some kids thrive in competitive settings while others, well, just wilt?
I had fallen into the habit of “inclusion” and, ultimately, found myself in stressful situations over which I had little control. So, for me one of the words that re-appear in my answers to this exercise is “stuck.” Now this may not look or feel like a “fear synonym” to some of you but, remember, these words are merely labels. And for me the word “stuck” provokes fear. Approach this exercise with poetic freedom. Consider the similarities between the examples you chose for this exercise. Where do the fear triggers come into play?
Now, since we are at the midway point in this series, I want to encourage you to be flexible and stay organized as you assemble your notebooks. The momentum you build through this series can carry you to its conclusion. You may find that you pass through all these exercises swiftly and return to your notebook weeks after you’ve put the newspaper in the recycling bin. None of this material comes with expiration dates. Your skills at building story and exploring your own personal history will grow with practice.
See you next week and don’t forget to practice your Decision Vision.
Lee Anne McClymont is radio talk show host and producer of Courage Cocktail which broadcasts live on Wednesdays at Noon EST on WCOM-FM 103.5. In June 2010, Lee Anne published her first book, “Friendly Fear Notebook”. She is a guest columnist for Hillsborough, NC-based newspaper, “The News of Orange County”. She launched Radiocentrix.com as an extension of her interest in using radio broadcasting as an Open Source Media outlet. Her work at Radiocentrix anchors radio podcasting within the digital landscape– effortlessly streaming radio interviews between live radio broadcasts and podcasts. Lee Anne is the principal owner of Vast Republic Inc., a media company committed to promoting the voices of authors, artists and businesses within the digital platform.
About Lee Anne McClymont
Host and producer of a new radio show hit "Courage Cocktail" broadcasting out of WCOM FM, Carrboro/Chapel Hill NC. The Friendly Fear Notebook forms the basis of this show but with a twist-we talk to an expert and then interview a "Guest with Guts" Come out to our Facebook page called Courage Cocktail poke around, download a pod cast and you are on your way ! Sip slowly....Le