Monday, January 01, 2007


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It's not to lose weight, or to train a certain amount, or to get my shit organized, or to practice my music or photography more, or even to qualify for Boston.

My project for the New Year is..... letting go of fear.

I am so often mentally, emotionally, and intellectually (can't think, brain shuts down) paralyzed by fear of other people's reactions, especially to any mistakes I make, that I'm surprised my shrink hasn't added "social anxiety" to my list of anxiety disorders. I asked him once how come something or other wasn't listed as a diagnosis on my insurance papers and he said, "Ellie, there are only so many diagnoses I can list and still justify treating you as an outpatient." Sheesh!!

I don't take jobs because I'm afraid of messing up. (Yes, we're "retired," but we need to work part-time to supplement our retirement income.)

I stay out of games because I don't know how to play and am afraid of looking stupid.

I turn down invitations because I'm afraid I'll be at a loss for what to say or do.

I let my husband make all the decisions because I'm afraid he won't like mine.

I don't contact people because I'm afraid they're mad at me for not contacting them.

If I do commit some faux pas, or social gaffe, or hit the wrong key on a cash register, or don't know the answer to a question I'm asked.... my mind shuts down like a power switch shutting off. I can't think. I can't move. I blank out. I pass out emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, and sometimes feel like I might physically.

I hate this paralysis and don't want it to control me anymore.

I do have a plan. Some of you will appreciate it, some won't. I'm going through Scripture with a fine-tooth comb. In French. I have a French Bible, a French-English dictionary, and a Frech thesaurus ("dictionairre de synonymes.") I can manage to speak some, understand some, converse some, read some, write some, in French, but I am not fluent. I know the Bible fairly well in English, but in French I have to look up a lot of words even though I already know essentially what it says. I have to think hard about what I'm reading. I have to ponder the nuance of difference between the French word and the English word (maybe I should capitalize "Word.") I have to slow down. I have to pay attention.

I'm going to start a file box with cards of verses that deal, or can be interpreted to deal, with putting away fear.

I'm starting not with Genesis or even with the Gospels but with the Epistles, because they were written intending to instruct further in what the reader has already begun to learn. It took me about 4 hours to go through the short book of Philippians. About an hour to do Philemon (which is less than two pages.) Now I'm doing Colossians. Studying it in another language is opening up a whole new way of thinking about it.

Plus, I'm learning more French. :-)

I am amazed at the number of references, in these few chapters I've read over the last 3 or 4 days, to how and why we need not be afraid.

Colossians 3:23 says: "Whatever you do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord, not unto man.... it is the Lord God you are serving."

With that in mind.... what's a cash register mistake, or a decision someone else doesn't agree with, or a foot-in-the-mouth?

I'll know I'm getting it the first time a mistake is just a mistake, a decision is just a choice, a misunderstanding is just that, and I don't fall apart from fear and self-beating when one of those things happens. I don't expect it to be good every time at first. Like everything else, it will take study, and practice.

I'm not aiming for the "I'm not afraid to say what I think" that can be blunt and hurtful. I know people who say exactly that, and it's not "honest," it's often downright unkind.

I say mean things to myself every time I don't do something exactly "right." Things I would never say to another person... it would be unkind, it would hurt them. I am kind to other people. Or I intend to be. The person I need to learn to be kind to is myself.


Laurie said...

That is a fantastic New Year's resolution. Fear keeps people from doing and becoming so many things. Your method to overcome your fear is definitely unique. A spiritual connection seems to be a good way to work through your fears.

Happy 2007!

Flo said...

That's a great resolution. It's a big task but I think you can do it. From your blog I get the impression that you are a very sure, confident, person. Just so you know that's how you come across. Fear of anything is tough to conquer because it hits us at our primal levels, but it looks like you've got a solid plan so good luck.

BTW, I love that picture.

Cliff said...

I do fine that I am very critical of myself. This lead to me being very uptight. And of course, need to unnecessary stress and problems with others.

Hope you all the best...this is one area I have to open up as well....that everything we do is for God..not for man.

*jeanne* said...

Happy New Year!

Downhillnut said...

Let me know when you get to the part about God working through our mistakes. I know it's in there somewhere.

Sending you Love, because perfect love casts out fear. Mine ain't perfect, but maybe it will help some.