Over the next few weeks, I'll be basing my articles on this "12 Steps to Happiness" post.
I've written about fears before, and since they're such an important topic, they made it into the top 12 countdown. In my opinion, many of life's puzzles can be explained by looking at what we're afraid of. I'm not going to go into how fear has been indispensable to the survival of the species, nor do I want to get into phobias or paranoias. Instead, let's look today at how being aware of our fears and conquering them can help us lead a more fulfilled, happier life.
According to Fritz Riemann (German psychologist, 1902 - 1979), there are four basic human fears:
1. Fear of self-actualisation - we strive to be individual, while at the same time we need and wish for the security of the group, belonging to a community.
2. Fear of self-abandonment - we wish to trust and open up to fellow humans, while at the same time we fear to lose ourselves, be abused and become dependent.
3. Fear of change - we make plans for the future and long for degrees of stability, while at the same time we know that nothing lasts forever and we're all going to die eventually.
4. Fear of necessity - we fear we are not really free but stuck inside our rules and our culture, while at the same time we know that times change and may just overtake us and leave us behind.
We want to belong, but we want to be unique; we want to be free to decide, but we want stability and order. If you imagine those four axioms, in which quadrant would you find yourself? Which of these fears would you say represent the biggest roadblock on your way to a happy self? What can you do to manage them in a way that brings balance to you? Life, it seems, is a paradox from beginning to end. Everywhere you look for answers and scratch the surface, a black whole of more questions opens up. At least that's what I found, and if you've just tuned in, I too am on the road to find out what this is all about. So far, I think a sense of humor and getting in touch with myself is of the essence. So, I invite you this week to think about what scares you and why. After reading the following, I hope you find the courage to try and handle your scary situations in a different manner than usual and find new ways of coping and of overcoming those fears.When I wrote the caption, I underlined it with "how can I expect different results if I keep doing the same things?" What I was thinking of are for example women who are perpetually single although they're looking for love. Or couples who keep fighting over the same old thing without finding a compromise. We are surrounded by circumstances beyond our control, and there's obviously also the paradox of free will vs. determination: if all our lives really are laid out from the start, then we have no control whatsoever. But that also means we're not responsible for our actions, and that's where I disagree. Things may not change, but in my view, you can. But, you can only change yourself: your perception, your attitude and the way you deal with things. These are subtle changes, I'm not talking about a 180 degree change of personality.

Next time you're afraid you'll never find another guy if this one doesn't come home with you, sit that fear down and look at what it's making you do. If you're happy with the answers, no need to change anything. But if you're not, try another tactic like exchanging phone numbers and setting another date, taking it easy. What about that never-ending discussion about open communication with your spouse, what are you really afraid of? That she knows you have feelings, that you might not have the answer to everything? How can you approach it differently to settle the argument pleasantly once and for all?

We all have habits that we fall into and that are comfortable, that make us feel secure. But if they are not productive, we can create new, more helpful responses that are flexible, adapt to changed circumstances and reflect our values and beliefs. Living without any fear at all is unlikely, but the least we can do is try and understand our fears, accepting them as part of ourselves and finding ways to turn them into a positive.

Til next time!

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