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Would you go to the prom with me?

iStock_000020746722XSmallBlogging about this book on fear has really caused me to focus on why we fear certain things. I think I came to a reasonable conclusion. When we confront a situation and we procrastinate, then the possibility of success remains within reach.

Ever asked someone to prom? Or at least on a date? I often asked myself why I feared asking out the prettiest girl in our high school? I believe my hesitation first came from the perceived immediate social ramifications such as me trying to associate with someone clearly above my station, or the ridicule of her friends, (and my friends) when she said no. Both of these are perceptions of course but there is a little bit of reality rooted in them. Our subconscious likes to try to protect us and had done a good job in the past of reminding me of previous times I’d crashed and burned. Added to the fact that while I knew her (she was the prom queen after all so everyone knew who she was) I clearly didn’t move in her social circles.

Plus, I know that there are realities that must be considered. A few years later I would almost end up in a fistfight in my first year of college all because I decided to ask a girl out (seems it offended the guy she was dating – whatever dude). I recall another situation where a friend goaded me into asking a girl out (who also had a boyfriend, but this time I didn’t know about it ahead of time). She said no and it made it uncomfortable for many years to come as we continued in the same professional organizationI really think that when we are talking about overcoming fear we also need to have a realistic threat assessment or we should at least do a little homework ahead of time.

But getting back to high school and the fair Miss Julie, I think one of the biggest reasons that I never asked her out is that is long as I did not ask her out there remained the possibility that she would say yes. If I asked her out and she said no, then it would remove all doubt and hope. I think sometimes we procrastinate or put off decisions or are afraid of them because there is always a possibility of success if we don’t take the action. This doesn’t make sense in the long-run of course, but our sub conscience isn’t usually concerned with long-term ramifications, it wants to keep us out of immediate harm.

Regardless of the situation, eventually it will become overcome by events. The irony is that if we do nothing, we are effectively manifesting the outcome we don’t want. High school does indeed end. The lost opportunity becomes another regret to be filed away among all the other times we did let fear control our lives.

Another reason we let fear control us is that little voice in our head, what Jeffers (75) calls the chatterbox. The chatterbox remembers those times when you took a risk and it did not turn out well. It then continues to remind you of that past failure every time you’re ready to take a similar risk.

There is a test that Jeffers uses, that I have seen used many times in different variations that anecdotally proves that there is power in negative and positive thought. In her seminars, she has a volunteer make a fist and outstretch their arm and she tells them to resist while she tries to push it down (Jeffers 64). She then has them repeat the negative statement 10 times “I am a week and unworthy person.”  They put their arm back up but this time she can easily push it right b back down.

She then tells the volunteer to repeat the positive statement “I am a strong and healthy person,” 10 times (Jeffers 65). Jeffers is now unable to physically push the arm down. Words have power and if the chatterbox is continually feeding yourself negative thoughts you need to start replacing it with positive thoughts (Jeffers 66).

Begin to feed your brain with positive quotes, good music and positive affirmations (Jeffers 72). If you really want to impact your life powerfully, quit listening to talk radio. I am not talking about NPR, I am talking about those talk shows that are clearly bent to the left or to the right so strongly that it is just a never ending diatribe of vitriol and hate.

You may notice that as you become a more positive person that some of your closest friends and family begin to pull away. This could be a sign that you’re outgrowing them (Jeffers 80). Do not worry. They were with you on this life journey for a period of time and they will make a decision to either continue with you and grow with you, or at least accept you, or they will move on to their own life path.

But what if that relationship that is pulling away happens to be the person you are married to? You may have some hard decisions ahead of you. If this person truly loves you and wants what is best for you they will ultimately love the positive changes in you (Jeffers 90). Most of us would like to know that our mate is strong and healthy and loving, and not needy, weak and helpless. If they turn out to be that way you need to make a decision if you want to continue being their parent or caretaker. I don’t say this flippantly. I am dead serious. Some people have made the choice to stick with someone who is clearly very needy and to continue to take care of them. That is okay as long as you understand that it is your choice and if you are fine with it and can continue with your positive energy and leading the life you want to live, then that’s fine.

But if this is not what you want then there might be some important decisions ahead for you in the future. I understand what it is to leave a marriage. I have also seen how my first wife and myself have gone on to better and happier lives as a result. I know that is not true in every case but in the end, the only thing that you really had control over where your own decisions not anybody else’s.

By the way, I never went to my prom. Why? Fear. I feared making the wrong decision so I waited and waited and waited, asking girls who I knew were going to say no. By the time I got to the one who would say yes, it was too late for her to get a dress. I ended up spending my prom night, with my date and my best friend at the time, at my parents house playing Monopoly.

Jeffers, Susan. Feel the Fear — and Do It Anyway Dynamic Techniques for Turning Fear, Indecision, and Anger into Power, Action, and Love. New York, NY: Ballantine, 2007. Print.

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