What Is Fear and Is Fear Good or Bad for You?

Understanding what is fear and how to overcome fear is essential to change bad habits, dependencies and addictions. Fear is an emotion that can help us or hurt us, though the object of our fear is just in our mind.

To generate a lot of controversy I would simply say that fear is not real… it’s all in the mind. However that is not quite right… or at least the full story. Fear is an emotion and has its benefits and disadvantages.

Back in prehistoric days fear served as a survival mechanism to help keep us from putting ourselves in harm’s way. We experienced the emotion of fear concerning things that we believed could hurt us (savage animals, falling off cliffs etc.). The response to the fear stimulus and associated adrenalin release was typically one of flight (we ran or moved away), fight (we defended ourselves by being aggressive), or freeze (we remained very still or hid until the threat passed). A lot of people don’t realise the freeze response existed, though a lot of animals (and humans) still commonly use it to survive dangerous or scary situations. Yes, in those early times fear was definitely a good emotion to have to protect us.

Even today feeling fear or being afraid serves us, especially when young and we don’t fully comprehend how everything in the world works. It is good to have a healthy amount of respect and caution for things that are known to harm us if not treated in the appropriate manner e.g. electricity, vehicle traffic, chemicals, strange dogs etc. Also unfortunately in today’s world children have to be taught to be wary even of other people that they do not know well. So the emotion of fear is still an important tool as we progress through our early learning years, as long it is replaced by understanding and more appropriate responses based on that understanding as we get older.

If the things we were taught to fear as a child (or we developed due to our own young perceptions), carry over into adulthood they can affect our beliefs, reasoning and decision-making in all areas of our life. We can become stuck and limit ourselves from achieving great things by fears that are not serving us as adults. In these cases fear becomes a distinct disadvantage to us.

Indeed ‘understanding’ is one of the main keys to unlocking and releasing our fears and is one of the topics I cover more fully in my book Alcohemy and the associated self-help video alcohol treatment program. In that material I reveal that fear is not a tangible, physical thing that is outside our control. Although a real emotion, fear is always just a state of mind, and it is made up of the thoughts we are currently having and therefore completely within our control. The only thing we have to fear is the emotion of fear itself, as the object of our fear is not actually real, rather something we think ‘might’ happen in the future. This fear is often based on outdated beliefs and conditioning that we were taught or we adopted many years ago. When people are fearful of doing something, it is not the ‘doing’ that is the issue; it is the imagined negative consequence if it doesn’t go well. We would all love the thrill of doing new things if we knew it would be a successful and happy experience. What we fear is confronting the worst result that we imagine may happen.

I have heard and seen it written that it is the unknown that we fear most. I disagree with that concept, and believe it is what we replace the unknown with that causes our fear. Most people would gladly attempt challenges if the outcomes were likely to be successful (or even unknown), as long as they wouldn’t be worse off. The majority however, tend to paint the picture of the unknown destination with images of the worst-case scenarios they have conjured up in their minds, and therefore don’t commit to the challenge. Think of a time when you balked at a challenge you would have loved to be successful in. I bet it wasn’t the visions of success that made you reluctant; it was the thoughts and visions of the worst outcome that held you back.

I could go on, as I have devoted a good portion of a chapter in my book Alcohemy to it, though the topic of fear is too long to discuss in full here. The reason I give overcoming fear so much devotion is because my own fears were major obstacles for me to stop drinking alcohol and committing to changing to an alcohol-free lifestyle. I also know fear is a major obstacle for many others desiring to break an alcohol addiction or change bad habits in their life; and it is easier than most would imagine.

Are You Controlled By the Opinions of Others?

It is one thing to be interested in what other people think, though another to be controlled by the opinions of others. All too often a lot of us let other people’s views on ‘how things should be’, govern our own decision-making process.

I believe the primary reason we are so heavily swayed by what other people think, is our desire to be liked and to feel like we ‘fit in’. Most of us like to feel admired, respected, important, and we believe a good start in that direction is to agree with what others think and do. If we acknowledge that we like others and are in agreement with their ideals, they are more likely to like us. This can extend to their opinion of us, how we should look, behave and even what ‘opinions’ and values we should have.

The lower the self-esteem, self-worth and sense of importance we have of ourselves, the more prone we will be to being controlled by other people’s opinions. If we were raised in an environment where we only felt loved or valued, ifwe lived up to others’ expectations of us, or were making other people happy, then this way of gaining affection and admiration will become important to us.

Instead of basing our sense of self-worth and importance on how we perform against our own values and ideas of how we should live, we can spend our lives trying to conform to what others think and living according to their rules. All in an attempt to feel loved, valued or to ‘fit in’.

The reality is that the sense of love, value and contentment with oneself, should always begin from within. If you have chosen good life values and are living your life according to these values, you willdevelop a natural and healthy inner love and self-worth. Once you respect yourself for how you live your life, two things will happen. (1) The need for the approval of others will disappear, as will the controlling influence of their opinions; and (2) You will attract and gain the admiration and respect of others, because you live your life according to your own good values and aren’t easily governed by the opinions of others.

man-smiling-at-himself-in-mirror-confidently-222x300This important lesson that I learned helped me with my decision to commit to living an alcohol-free life. For most of my life I believed the Australian cultural belief, that you had to drink alcohol to be a ‘real’ Aussie man. Even though the consequences of my alcohol dependence  and alcohol abuse was causing me numerous problems, I was too controlled by the opinions of others, including my social circle. It was only after I committed to live my life according to my own values and put higher credence in my opinions, that I was able to happily live my way without fearing what others think. My new main source of contentment originated from within me and therefore under my control.

In my book Alcohemy and alcohol treatment program, I discuss the importance of not being controlled by the opinions of others (especially social groups you are in). If you are to make real changes in your life that are best for you, you need to base your decisions on your values and opinions. It is prudent (even wise), to considerthe opinions of other people, especially if they have wisdom and your best interest at heart. However the ultimate decision on how to live your life must come from within you. You be the Master of your Fate; the Captain of your Soul.

Are You Courageous?

This morning I was looking through a photo stock site for an inspiring photo for my alcohol treatment program’s Alcohemy Facebook page, when I came across this one here. I was really drawn to it, not just because of the great colours, also because of how much meaning it embodied for me. It motivated me to write a separate article just on it.

The first thing that struck me was the courage by both these people to overcome the obvious fear factor involved. No matter how good we become at various skills we develop in life, I believe it is good for our soul to keep questioning and pushing our emotional and creative boundaries. That is why there is a motto that says, “Live life to the fullest” and not “Live life below your potential”. To experience a great sense of accomplishment and reward in life, we have to activate the courage in us to overcome the fears that prevent us from taking action. You can read more on the reality of fear in my article, What Is Fear and Is Fear Good or Bad for You.

The second thing I noticed about this photo is the team work shown in it. There is one person that has the courage to take a risk and a leap of faith, and another that is there to help and support them in achieving their goal. Certainly we can achieve great things in life by ourselves, though most often we can get there quicker and with less struggle, if we have the help and advice of caring and wise mentors and support. The support could be simply in the form of a friend or colleague that has your interest at heart and gives you encouragement. Knowing you have someone that cares for what you are endeavouring to do, can elicit your courage to committo it and boost your motivation if the going gets tough.

The leap of faith shown in the photo doesn’t appear to be reckless or frivolous. It isn’t an act of ‘blind faith’ where no thought was given to the purpose, means, or possible outcomes. Being courageous and taking risks doesn’t necessarily equate to a lack of consideration and responsibility. I’m quite sure the two in this photo had a definite purpose, planned and prepared for their journey, and had a strong expectation of success. Having the courage to take on new and unfamiliar challenges doesn’t mean you won’t be nervous or even very scared. This is where mentoring and having a prepared plan can be of great help. Having a mentor to point out the challenges and plan for them, can help raise your expectations of success and thus reduce the fear factor. Having a little adrenaline though can keep you alert and ‘on your toes’. Complacency is a hidden danger.

So how does this relate to people with an alcohol dependence?

Everything about this photo could be applied to someone with an alcohol dependence / alcohol addiction. For those that are an alcoholic, or have been dependent on alcohol for many years, it is very difficult to imagine life without it. Their social life, relaxation, daily routines and emotional ‘support’ all are habitually linked to drinking alcohol. To contemplate a life without drinking alcohol can be like sailing into uncharted waters (and perhaps dropping off the edge of the earth). It will take significant courage to take the ‘leap of faith’ that life will be actually better, not worse than it is now. It is an unknown risk that many don’t find the courage to take.

However, to get to the summit of their potential, they will have to climb that mountain, jump some crevasses and knock some skin off their hands and knees along the way. Just like in the photo at the top, quitting alcohol shouldn’t be attempted recklessly without thoughtful planning and preparation. For those without unyielding commitment, failures to stop drinking can be disheartening and lead to a lack of motivation and unwillingness to re-attempt. The help of a guide who has travelled that mountainous route before is a great idea, so they can help you plan and avoid some of the more arduous challenges along the way. Your support person (or team) can help you get there quicker with less scrapes and bruises.

The fact is, you will never be the best you can be in whatever your endeavours in life are, while you have an alcohol dependence or on any external substance. You will never live your life to the fullest and experience your full potential in your career, business, sport, hobbies or relationships. If you are persevering with an alcohol dependence look within yourself and find the courage that is there and take the leap to a better life. My Alcohemy alcohol treatment program can certainly help with that. Be the Master of your fate; the Captain of your soul.

The Truth Will Set You Free

If there’s one big lesson I learned from my years of battling alcohol dependence and the consequences of regular binge drinking it is… living with and continually concealing the poor actions you have done while intoxicated, is a psychological stress that eats away at your very soul.

I can still clearly remember alcohol-related incidents from my teenage years that I still feel uncomfortable about, though it is not only these type of memories that can cause emotional and physical stress. Even waking up the next morning after a night of binge drinking, suspecting that you have had that much to drink that you probably did or said something that you should feel embarrassed about, can be just as big of a stress. For many years I would wake up after a night of binge drinking and start trying to piece together the previous night’s events, to see if I could recall anything I would be ashamed of. Oh, and just because I couldn’t actually recall any, didn’t mean there weren’t some. That is the real nature of binge drinking alcohol… you can’t be sure how bad you were… unless someone is honest enough to tell you the truth.

Be truthful about your alcohol dependence.

People who live in this alcohol-fuelled reality, have a tendency to protect their already fragile self-esteem by consciously denying the truth about how serious their alcohol dependence is, or the real effect the consequences are for themselves, or the people around them. However, at an inner subconscious level, they know that how they are living and the consequences of their alcohol abuse, is slowly destroying their very happiness… especially their own internal peace and harmony.

Living with that kind of consistent stress is very harmful both psychologically and physically. It is known that many forms of cancer and other life threatening illnesses, like heart disease, originate from persistent stress. It can also perpetuate the conditioned ‘alcohol desire’ response, for those that believe that drinking alcohol relieves stress. Therefore the cycle continues and the problem of alcohol dependence gets worse.

Conversely, people that live in a state of truth, as much as possible, are more at peace with themselves and are living life the closest to reality. They don’t have the same stress levels as people who are living a lie, or constantly kidding themselves about what the reality of their life is actually like.

So what do I mean by ‘living a state of truth’? It is basically being as totally honest with yourself and others as much as possible. We all tell what we affectionately call ‘little white lies’ occasionally in an attempt to protect someone else’s feelings; and this isn’t catastrophic as long as it isn’t avoiding a deeper, serious issue. Living truthfully means being congruent with your inner values and what you ‘know’ to be the right thing to do. This just doesn’t mean being truthful with what you say; also with what you think and the actions that you take. They all need to align with your values and inner spirit. If they all aren’t harmonious the inner conflict will manifest itself both psychologically and physically in different negative forms… dis-ease being the most common.

The truth about your alcohol addiction is bestIf you are always truthful in what you think, say and do, there is no stress in trying to make up a ‘convenient’ lie to suit your purpose, or trying to remember which lie you have told before so you don’t get caught out. When you think, speak and act from a place of truth, you are simply telling it how it is. There is no fabrication, no concealing and no having to remember a ‘convenient story’.

When I was addicted to alcohol I was forever concealing my alcohol abuse and resulting intoxicated behaviour, that contravened what I and others considered a breach of our values. This was just a horrible core feeling that I lived with over many years. It wasn’t until I had reached my tipping point and had enough of the constant stress I was feeling, that I made a resolute decision to live my life from a position of truth. I had to admit my alcohol addiction, all the serious consequences from the past and present, and the truthful reality of my alcohol abuse. This doesn’t mean you have to go back and make amends with every person you have ever upset. Though you do have to be totally honest with yourself and those who matter in your life. By doing this I freed my conscience and spirit and was able to start living from a fresh truthful position.

Your heart will know the truth about your alcohol addictionThough I don’t live a perfect life now and I have my ‘human’ moments like everyone else, I can honestly tell you being as truthful as possible has increased my feeling of peace and harmony 100% from when I was when I was a binge drinking alcoholic. The truth sometimes can be temporarily painful, as you learn and grow from it, though in the long-term the truth will certainly set the real you free. Your health and happiness will depend on it!