Embrace Your Fears

LauriA good friend, Lauri Schoenfeld, spoke at our caregivers group on April 20, 2017 at the Intermountain Medical Center (IMC) in Murray.  She gave an excellent presentation on embracing fear to move forward. She addressed what holds us back and how to overcome it so we can be our best selves. She is positive, fun and energetic.

Lauri is a wife, mother of three, child abuse survivor, scoliosis survivor and has dealt with massive depression. She revealed four tips to help us overcome our fears to enable progression. 

Written By: Lauri Schoenfeld

1. Recognize your fear and call out to it. Get clear what you’re afraid of. It can be anything. A lot of times our fears are like an onion that has multiple layers. Is it spiders, clowns, natural disasters, death, being betrayed, getting too close to someone, loss, or rejection.

  • What happened to create this fear?
  • How is it holding you back?

If you’re going to let go of fear you have to recognize it first. It’s called gaining consciousness. When you start to feel yourself getting a little anxious or fearful, stop and take notice. Think to yourself, “Oh, here it is. I’m starting to get freaked out.” Then instead of reacting on your instant emotion, breathe and see what’s going on around you that could be creating this element for you. Watch how your body reacts to the situation for future understanding. By doing this you start to disengage from the fear as the ultimate reality. It helps you to realize that you are NOT your fear.

Fear is like a fire alarm alerting you to check something out. It propels us into action. This is good, not bad. We need this. Julia Cameron says, “Fear is not something to meditate and medicate away. It is something to accept and explore.”

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic, says that when she’s writing and feels fear sit on her shoulder, she acknowledges it and says, “Thank you for worrying about me today, but I don’t need you” and then she continues working. She doesn’t allow fear to control her choices or future because she is aware that she needs fear at times, but at other times she does not.

The ego is the part of your mind that stays focused on the past. It feeds you all the time with messages like “Watch out. It’s going to happen again.” It’s a sly trick which uses our fear that we will indeed hurt again. Instead of being open to different experiences and outcomes, we halt. Most of us are afraid of fear because so many of our experiences with fear have been negative. In reality, it is a very positive and useful tool.

Fear2. Face your fears. You have to surrender to them and become willing to create a different reality. Your life will not turn out differently unless you do something different.

  • What are your truths? (Example: Mine are being a child abuse survivor, scoliosis survivor, a writer, speaker, and a mom.)
  • Write down your truths and start peeling back the layers of the onion one step at a time. Don’t try to take it all at once as your truths are going to be deep, hard and emotional. Be gentle with yourself as you unfold each layer.

Courage

  • If you’re afraid of speaking, go speak. If you’re afraid of snakes, pet one, read a book about one or go to an aquarium and stand in front of the tank.
  • Encourage yourself to do one scary thing each day. It doesn’t need to be large. Every step forward is something to be proud of.
  • Courage, confidence and even fearlessness are the result of facing, embracing and dancing with fear, looking it straight in the eye and having a partnership with it.

3. Learn to love yourself and appreciate all that you are. Once I began nourishing myself, the fears I felt didn’t seem to control my life anymore. I began to have clarity on how to handle tough situations and challenges with more grace, patience and positivity. I began taking charge of what I wanted in my life.

Love YourselfIdeas that work for me:

  • Motivational videos – Brene Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Tony Robbins are a few of my favorite speakers. Check out TEDTalks.
  • Gratitude journal – No matter how tough things feel, there’s ALWAYS something to be grateful for. Looking for those things gives us the opportunity to see that we can indeed find beauty even in the darkest moments.
  • Positive Affirmations – Write five things that you want to start shifting in your mind in a positive fashion. One positive thing per card. If you have negative internal dialogue that you don’t think you’re very smart, write on your card “I’m Smart.” Use reverse psychology and say these five affirmations EVERY SINGLE DAY. It’s important to say those five things like you mean it.
  • Take time out to breathe – I call these moments “Lauri Time.” Depending on the week, sometimes I can do an hour or sometimes its fifteen minutes, but do something that calms your spirits, is enjoyable, fun or creative. Whatever you need in that moment, give it to yourself. You deserve to be treated with gentle loving care too. Write a list of twenty things that you really like and once a week, treat yourself to one of those things.
  • Read uplifting books – There are so many to check out. Chicken Soup for the Soul books are some of my favorite. Form a book club with a group and read a different inspirational book each week.
  • Get an accountability/support buddy – It’s important to find someone you can share your progress with. Every step, whether it’s big or small, is important to acknowledge.
  • Surround yourself with people who can relate to you and the things you’re going through – Having this support system and team will help to keep you grounded, supported and appreciated.

Move Foreward4. Be present and realize that this is your life.

If you were told that you had six months to live, would you live in the present or the past?

What kind of things would you do? Travel to a dream destination, swim with dolphins, spend more time with family, start taking a class you never allowed yourself to do?

Why are you waiting?

Why not start now?

Put on your shield and cross the monkey bars. If you fall, get up and try again until you’re on the other side. You are NOT your fear! You’ve got this.

Lauri and I connect through writing groups and conferences. For more articles by Lauri check out, https://thinkingthroughourfingers.com/. Type Lauri Schoenfeld in the search bar. She’s written many articles for that website.

Thank you Lauri for sharing your tips on how to embrace fear to move forward.

Related Articles:

https://unitingcaregivers.wordpress.com/2015/08/27/overcoming-fear-of-failure/

https://unitingcaregivers.wordpress.com/2015/07/12/feel-the-fear-and-do-it-anyway/

https://unitingcaregivers.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/five-ways-to-overcome-fear/

https://unitingcaregivers.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/overcoming-fear/

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Choices and Accountability

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1985, Katie and I

Children are great teachers. They remind us of how the grass tickles our toes or the joy of seeing white fluffy snowflakes falling from the sky. They are excited by the little things we often take for granted and their delight opens our eyes for viewing the world with more enthusiasm.

Children also test us to our limits, which teaches us where those limits are. I had several nieces and nephews before we had our two children. We loved each one of them and stayed involved in their lives as they grew. I thought I had child-raising all figured out, but by the time we had our own we handled things a lot different than we expected we would.

As the children grow into teenagers, they try our patience in a worrisome way by some of the choices they make. We have to learn how to let go so they gain independence and become responsible adults. Teenagers remind us of how exciting the adventures of adulthood appear without knowing the stress that comes with it. Their will to conquer the world is inspiring.

Although I miss our young children, I really wouldn’t go back in time. I love having adult children, where I no longer feel the weight of their daily care. I’m pleased with the good things they are accomplishing and appreciate their independent and productive lives. They still continue to teach me and help me see the world in a different light.

Yesterday I was talking to my daughter, Katie, about a new service project she is working on which involves the teenage girls in her church. She’s encouraging them to write two goals they want her to hold them accountable for. They’ll also choose their own reward upon success or punishment for failure.

As she related some of her creative ideas in helping the girls reach their goals, I associated it with some of the contracts I had with her when she was a teenager. The kids still enjoy giving me a hard time about them. I thought the contracts were a clever way of making them accountable for their choices. For example, my favorite contract written and signed December 1995 when they were eleven and thirteen:

It has been agreed by all parties that whoever complains about a meal will automatically by responsible for making the next healthy dinner. Complaints consist of any negative sigh or comment about the meal. We understand it’s best to appreciate what we are given. More than two negative comments will result in dismissal from the table without any more eating.

Another contract titled The School Agreement:

I, child’s name, hereby understand that if I have any incomplete or missing assignments I will not watch any television or visit with any friends or family by telephone or in person until my assignments are caught up.

I also understand that I am still responsible for my chores even though I got behind in my school work. I will stay focused and resist any temptation which would distract me from getting my school work done. I realize that good grades lead to a happy and successful adulthood. Therefore, I will take my schooling seriously.

I also realize that my parents are willing to help me any way they can to succeed in school and will let them know what kind of help I need. I know my parents love me or they wouldn’t do silly agreement forms or care if I do well or not in school. I plan on building their trust by showing them I can be responsible for my own school work. They will reward my efforts by the attached grade payment sheet.

Katie scoffed at my connection between her ideas of accountability and my contracts. She said, “Mom, the difference is we didn’t get to choose our goals and rewards or punishment.”

Sometimes the truth hurts and I realized for the first time the mistake I may have made with the contracts was that I didn’t get more of, or according to her, any input on the agreements.

I quickly remember my words from last week’s post, “A goal has to be something I truly desire and not what someone else thinks I should be doing.

Was I wrong to use this method in making my teenagers responsible? I don’t think so, but I could have done better by giving more consideration to their thoughts and opinions. I thought we discussed the goals and rewards before I typed up the contract, but Katie’s memory is very different. She remembers I wrote them and they had to sign it. It’s interesting how parents and children perceive the same situation in their own way.

I haven’t thought about contracts for a while, but I still think it’s a great idea to make a written promise with a reward and punishment linked to it for encouraging improvement. What I need to do now is write one for my own personal progress, which I intend to do and I’ll bet Katie will enjoy holding me accountable for it. Maybe I should even let her write it for me.

Just for laughs, I’ll share one more agreement from my old “Contracts” folder:

Barbara Wilson promises Kathryn Wilson that when she completes 312 hours of piano practicing she may terminate piano lessons. She also promises not to annoy Kathryn about quitting her piano lessons (in which she shows so much potential) after she’s completed the aforementioned 312 hours.

Barbara Wilson also promises to be thrilled as all get out if Kathryn Wilson chooses to continue with piano after the 312 hours are completed and will gladly (notice how gladly is underlined) pay for them until she decides it’s time to quit.

Katie & I

2014, Katie and I

Kathryn Wilson promises not to ask her mother to quit piano lessons until she has completed the 312 hours of piano practice previously stated. She also promises to keep track of her piano practicing hours on the sheet provided and only count those hours which have been initialed by parents or grandparents.

I appreciate Katie’s consent to share a few of our contracts. We may laugh about them now, but what a wonderful, responsible adult she became, possibly because of, or maybe in spite of those written agreements. I can’t imagine being more proud and grateful that she stayed true to those promises. I love my kids with all my heart and appreciate all they teach me. I recognize they are the better part of me.