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The Fear of Unhappiness

“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.”                                          ~Jack Kornfield~

The Fear of UnhappinessThe thought that I might lose my home sent waves of nausea and anxiety rolling through me. The mind is a funny thing, at least mine is; it always goes straight for the worst case scenario.

I started having one of those split-personality conversations in my head. The first little voice in my head said something like, “You’re going to be homeless, penniless, living on the streets until you die broke and alone.”

The second voice shot back, “Ridiculous, you’re going to be fine. You’ll recover from this.”

Then from the dark recesses the first voice whispers, “How?”

Homelessness has  been a fear I’ve had lying just under the surface. I don’t know where it came from. Growing up we were very comfortable, not rich, but money was not a challenge for us.

Striking out on my own, after college, I found myself in a situation that was about as close to homelessness as I’ve ever come. Almost broke, I’d used the last of my money on a bus ticket to New Orleans, where I was told that, I was sure to find a “great paying off shore job, because they’re hiring anybody that’s breathing.”

It wasn’t quite that easy and being to proud to contact family, I had a few “rough” moments on the streets.

I did find a decent paying job.

I recovered financially and eventually made enough to build my own home in Idaho.

That was many years and two houses ago.

It wasn’t this one, the one I was about to lose.

As I really listened to the inner stories I was telling myself, I realized that I wasn’t afraid of being homeless and on the streets. I was afraid of being seen as a failure. I was afraid of losing control.

When that awareness dawned it caused me to quietly laugh, thinking to myself, “control is an illusion, because life is all about change.”

My real fear at the core of it all, was of feeling unhappy.

Once I became aware of that, things shifted. They shifted because I knew that I had a choice.

I remembered a, paradoxical, practice I had received from teacher and coach, Michael Neill. What he said was, the more you are willing to accept and “feel good” about whatever it is you’re feeling, the happier you will feel.

In other words, when you can feel good about feeling bad, the happier you will be.

This is something the ancient sages knew and practiced.

It starts by tuning into the body. I had a teacher that would say, in his sweet India accent, “Feel the body, feel the body.” There’s wisdom in connecting to body awareness.

The next step is you begin, what I think of as; “shifting your viewpoint to the bigger picture,” practice.

It works this way. Once you’ve connected to whatever it is you are feeling in your body, you ask yourself, “Could I love or accept myself for feeling this feeling.”

It doesn’t matter if you’re really angry, racked with guilt or even jealous. Whatever it is you are feeling in the body-however those feelings are expressing themselves-ask yourself the question, “Could I love or accept myself for feeling this feeling.”

If not, expand the boundaries and ask yourself, “Could I love and accept myself for not being willing or able to love and accept myself for feeling my feelings?”

If the answer is still no then continue expanding outward by expanding the question until you’re feeling a genuine sense of love and acceptance for whatever you’re feeling now.

Unhappiness is Fear

Unless you find yourself in a real war zone or some truly life threatening situation, the fear you feel is of the ego’s making. Every kind of fear has a power; it plays tricks on the mind.

I believe that if you’re over the age of thirty, you’ve experienced and lived through every type of fear, anxiety, disappointment, failure and grief; and yet your ego-mind manages to convince you that somehow “this time it’s different, and not only that, you’re about to die and do it alone.”

Exactly what I was feeling about the situation with our house; it was all a part of my inner story.

Where does that come from?

Fear of unhappiness blinds us to our true nature, the power, strength and love of our unconditioned-self.

I let go of the fear of losing my home and instead embraced the idea and “knowingness” that we would be fine no matter what happened.

I chose to live as if fear was completely unnecessary. Michael Neill had said, “ask yourself, when you are about to do something, whether it’s coming from fear and if it is; don’t do it.” It is a paradigm that I’m consciously incorporating to my life now.

Unhappiness and fear can feel as real as the ground beneath your feet, especially when they have you in their grip; but they are not real.

Unhappiness begins to lose it’s hold when you give yourself a break.

By giving yourself a break and allow yourself to feel what it is you are feeling and you release the judgment (especially self-judgment;) then you find yourself.

The secret is knowing that, even with whatever pain you are experiencing right now, the real you will always be okay, because “this too shall pass.”

Moving Past Fear

How did things turn out with our house?

As soon as we (it wasn’t just me) let go of the fear things began changing. Yes, we did sell the house and it all worked out better than we could have imagined. We made money and ended up in a wonderful place.

The truth is, though, we would have been fine even if it hadn’t worked out as well as it did. We had shifted the way we perceived things from fear and unhappiness to love and happiness.

Letting go of fear isn’t always and easy path. In our case it most certainly wasn’t at first, but after a while it seemed natural and I doubt that we’ll ever go back to the other way of living.

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