Cataracts of the Soul-Fear
Leadership and vision is something I’ve been dealing with all of my life on different levels. From student government, asking questions that irritated those around me that questioned the status quo to literally growing up and becoming an entrepreneur and eye surgeon before selling my practice. Vision and leadership are themes in my life in a very personal and experiential way.
Our world has been operating so backwards for the past few thousand years or so that those first who are starting to wake up (including myself) are often dubbed as “visionary”. Pretty much everything that I talk about and what media pronounced “thought leaders”, best-selling authors and others share is simply ancient wisdom spoken in terms of today’s language. It’s just a new cycle of old information.
Yet, to us it is a “revelation”; hence, it seems new to today’s world. If you are brave enough to look inside, you might notice that on some level, you “already know this”. Of course, everything is relative. I’m just happy to see this conversation beginning to make its way into conversations on public platforms.
We need courageous “enlightened” inspired leaders who can turn on the light and see their own inner authentic light so that they can see:
1. The light in others
2. See new possibilities for innovation
3. Let their light – and hence their Life shine!
It takes courage to break free from old programming and inner tapes that dim our light. It’s like the dark cave allegory by Socrates. The inhabitants were in fear of their shadow (as many people today are scared of their own inner “shadows”) in their ignorance. One brave soul makes up his or her mind and made their break into the sunlight, only to realize, freedom was only a few steps away.
She or he realizes that the illusion of the shadows on the cave walls was the equivalent of the “boogeyman under the bed”. Yet, when the one who had set himself free was rejected when he went back inside to tell the others that their shadow illusion was to be transformed by coming out into the light… as I said, nothing new under the sun.
The good news is, now that our environment has shifted so far so fast, we are being shaken out of our caves! The earth is rumbling under our feet metaphorically, and if we don’t run out of the cave, we may just be crushed by it. In order to be the type of “in the light” inspirational leader that is needed in today’s world, one will need to leave the cave and inspire others to do the same.
Innovation can happen in a “2 Degree Shift”, meaning the answer you seek could be right in your face…if you could only perceive it! Have you ever heard the old adage, “If it were a snake it would have bit me?” (Meaning what you were looking for was right in front of you but you did not see it). It is not just a matter of what you want, what you need to consider is “how” you are looking at:
Also, slow down and consider “why” you want what you want so that:
1. You can engage your heart – your source of passion and courage to persevere
2. You can align with and for some, discover, your core values
3. You can really want the results when you get (think “receive”, preferably) them
Many people are running themselves ragged trying to “get there” and if they make it, it feels like a hollow victory. Why? They did not make the time to reflect on their true inner values, why they wanted it in the first place or what is the best “how” to get there in a way that is with ease/less stress, meaningful and sustainable…seeking true innovation, maybe even invention. Many people have lost themselves in “doing”, so much so they feel disconnected – from their own heart and from others. Life is more than about getting what you “think” you want. How about slowing down and reflecting, reconnecting with what you are truly passionate about? Truth be told, you won’t be able to have the peace of mind, be able to fluidly adapt to change and let go of the “time wasting” activities until you deal with:
1. Your “story”
2. Recognizing that “you take you with you” wherever you go; “Life” is not out to get you – you are “co-creating” your experiences
3. “How” you see your self and others – “Reality” is not objective; it is subjective
“Reality is an illusion; albeit a very persistent one” ~Einstein
…I change my mind. Seasons change. And you have a birthright and choice to change yours too when it is expedient to do so. It’s not about what you believe as “right or wrong” as much as is it expanding your sense of “self-actualization” (as Maslow would have said) compassion, love, purpose and meaning – for yourself and those you interact with.
Does it expand your light and your vision for your life or does it keep you in the darkness of fear?
Beliefs are simply thoughts with feelings that get wired into our body/mind and color our perception of our self and our life. Then they become our habits and habits can create “blind spots” – even “cataracts of the soul”. (Must be the eye surgeon in me). These are misperceptions that can keep you from seeing your true potential. As Warren Buffet is to have said:
“The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken”
Habitual ways of thinking can make or break your business endeavors, your personal and business relationships, your influence and even your health. Fortunately, habits can be broken easier when you are more self-aware. You are not just a victim of circumstances. No, your circumstances are the result of your true beliefs, i.e., the way that you think and feel.
We are conditioned to believe (there’s that word again) that we should never change our minds – that just because we were “raised that way”, we have to cling on to the beliefs and values of others, even though it doesn’t feel authentic. This will keep you from being, “YOU, Magnificently”. You are created with a particular purpose and uniqueness that no one can fully replicate. If you are able to let go of the beliefs that keep you imprisoned in your mind, you will be able to bring forth your gifts and talents that are meant to impact your world, maybe even “The World” in a highly visible and public way. Both ways are important to the whole of humanity. No one is insignificant.
Emotions are contagious and how you focus your attention can either keep you stuck on how you feel or switch gears to where you want to go. It is our attention that is sitting in the driver’s seat of our mind. Most people seem not to know this. They think that if they keep talking about something, resisting it, pushing it away, worrying about it or even, yes – thinking about it – that somehow, they can get rid of it or prevent what they fear from manifesting.
This is jus the opposite of what you should do if you want to free your mind from stress, overwhelm, worry or fear. As Winston Churchill is to have said,
“If you are going through hell, keep going!”
If the truth is told, much of the pain and suffering and dissatisfaction most people feel is self-inflicted because we are ignorant of how powerful our attention is to direct our physiology and reactions. We focus all too often on what we “don’t” want. This will keep you stuck on the very thing you “don’t want”. So much so that we typically no longer know what we do want or what we really value.
Another way that we get ourselves into trouble is hanging around negative people who radiate emotions such as fear, anger, hatred or judgment. Even people who refuse to look for what they can be grateful for and cling to sadness and depression can drag you down because emotions are contagious! Likewise joy, appreciation and gratitude are contagious. They just are not as prevalent in our society yet – I hope.1
…requires more than meets the eye. In fact, if your keep your focus and attention on what scares you, you will feel more afraid. Yet, you will need to face your fear, name your fear and then tap into your spiritual power of courage. Courage is not of the head; it’s of the heart.
Even the root “cour” comes from the French word for “heart”. It is when we live in our head and attempt to repress our heart that fear can dominate and overtake the power of vulnerability – fear-lessness. It takes courage to be vulnerable. We have it all backwards. Vulnerability does not mean “weak” and sappy.
It takes confidence and self-acceptance to be vulnerable and open-minded. Fear of making “mistakes” is a form of cowardice. Mistakes are only “learning”. It is the one in fear who wears the mask of “perfectionism”, judgment without compassion or clinging to the status quo even though there is obvious suffering.
I had conversations recently with two dynamic, successful women entrepreneurs. Because I’ve had to face and go through so much fear and illusion, I could relate to both of their journeys. One had to face doubt that she could lead her growing multi-million dollar family business. She said she had to face that all the blame, anger and insecurity she was feeling was not due to the fault of others.
She had to finally listen to her heart that was screaming for attention, not just chase after more “business skills”. And when she did, she reclaimed her true personal power. The results? – More inner peace, intuition, connection to life/improved relationships on all levels. She has better health, can apply her leadership skills effectively, a happy and engaged team/employees and a soaring bottom line in her accounts receivables. It took courage and now she is reaping the rewards and inspiring everyone she has connection with.
The other female leader/entrepreneur had to face the fear of reinvention. As she too faced her self-doubt, took the leap and responded to the opportunity that came her way – even though afraid – seemingly like magic more doors opened. Against the beliefs of the men around her, who said, “women are bad at sales”, she went on to beat out the record of the top male sales leader. She’s now a powerful force behind her client’s success in the areas of entrepreneurship on several levels. The morale of the story is, FEAR – Fictitious Evidence Affecting Reality – will stop you if you refuse to call it out.
Once you do, stop focusing on it and focus on where you want to go while releasing the feelings that show up. Ask yourself, “What can I learn from these feelings, what needs to be reframed or updated? You can learn easy ways to reduce the painful feelings until you learn to change your perception of them. HOW we focus our attention matters.
Talking about fear, not enough time, energy or money all day long only worsens your condition.
The power of attention and focus is remarkable.0
Before you do another thing, are you clear about where you are going and why? We’ve become a society of frantic doers, not taking the time to reflect and get clear before taking massive action. And even when we do create a strategy, it is often in the old way of thinking and so our plans have trouble taking root…the road map has changed and we get so busy “doing” we missed the signs along the way.
We can be so inflexible and stuck that we lose our sense of humor and dig in all the harder, burning our selves out. Did the title of this blog cause you to criticize the improper grammar? Can you take a joke? Or are you so rigid that if anything is out of the predictable you get irritated?
Here’s the dilemma we are all in – the old way is evolving into the new, unknown, and to the logical mind, it’s scary. Yet, we are no longer able to ignore our fears, slap on the mask and bury it as “business as usual”. No, we now have to pull up the courage to face our fears do some internal work and actually grow in our awareness.
Welcome to a Brave New World. Ready to play a new game?
Not only has the road map changed, but the old industries are falling down and we have to call on our imagination, creativity and muster up courage and put to use all of the skills that we’ve acquired to date in our career and entrepreneurial journey. In other words, we actually are being forced to innovate – a novel idea!
In order to take aim, we need to not only figure out where we are going and why we want to go, but we will also need to examine if we believe we are the person who can be, do and have what we desire. We need to examine the stories in our mind that are distracting our focus – stories that distort our self-esteem and self-image.
Actually, one reason we have so much trouble adapting and innovating is that
we don’t “see” ourselves being able to change or doing other than what we do the way we’ve always done it.
…is not money; it’s lack of self-acceptance. By the way, even the Bible doesn’t say it’s money. There it says the “love of money” and love as used in the proper translation would be “lust” or attachment – in other words, greed. This is where lack of self-acceptance comes in to the conversation.
We are so conditioned to look for love in all the wrong places outside of ourselves, that we over look the very source of so much of our pain and suffering. What even drives greed, truth be told, is a fear of powerlessness and insecurity. Humans are driven by essentially two questions
– “Who am I” and “Why am I here?”
If we start out in life as young children being taught that what others think about us matters more than our own values, gifts and talents. Then why are we surprised that so many people are depressed, feel like a fake or are practically manic in their everyday striving to “do” more? (They believe that if they “do” more they can “be” more – this is backwards). Children make sense of their world by relating their experiences to “Who am I”.
Unfortunately, there are ample opportunities for others to project their own feelings of “not enoughness” onto the child. Such as, “little Johnny, you are not smart enough because you are not good in math (doesn’t matter that he’s a genius or visionary in other subject matters). Or, if a child doesn’t conform, she or he is shamed into feeling “bad”.
Dr. Brene Brown has some wonderful research on the power of shame to hold people down. The other association with shame is aggression and violence. That’s a very high cost to society for classroom order and conformity. Attacking the “Who am I” of children is not wise, even if done with good intention. I don’t blame the perpetrators per se, in that this kind of passing down of social conditioning is done in ignorance. I know from my own life that when I really knew better, I did better. Now here’s the key to what I mean by “know”:
“To know and not to do, is not to know” ~Chinese Proverb
Knowing has to do with belief and belief is linked to thoughts AND feelings. We don’t “know” something until we can apply it and experience it. When we feel bad about who we “think” we are, we are in constant self-protection mode. We look for love based on the paradigm of “survival of the fittest”. This is only a way of seeing life. It is comparable to the childhood fear of “the boogeyman under the bed”.
It is fear of the unknown, seeing others as competition and seeing one’s self as helpless, powerless, or not adequate. It is a huge source of feeling overwhelmed and stressed. The interesting point is, that now there is enough research from brain studies to examine “logically” the flaws in this belief system. Who you “think you are” is what I call the “Mental Me”, formed in our brain/mind as “autobiographical memory”, mostly originally in early childhood. Our conscious sense of self for most people is locked into the beliefs based in fear and a need to “hide out”.
Until confidence and inner peace is cultivated inside out, you will be subject to having your feelings hijacked without notice. I read an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal online the other day on Fear and Self-Doubt.
The article is entitled, “Conquering Fear” by Melinda Beck. I created an acronym when I wrote my book, Empower Up and Play Big: Winning at Life from the Inside Out! called FEAR – Fictitious Evidence Affecting Reality.
From a brain standpoint, most fear is literally “all in your head”, meaning it is psychological. The estimate is that 90% of our stress is due to our focusing on things that scare us, like the evening news, or having an inner critic that berates us, or worrying about something that hasn’t even happened.
So, where is this inner critic coming from, those annoying voices in our heads? I don’t know about you, but generally speaking, mine has quieted down and has become a type of ally. This inner critic is a type of “cellular” memory that is within your brain’s, “autobiographical” storage area.
Is there hard research for this? Probably not, but I’m not one to let other mere mortal scientists tell me what to think. We do have areas of the brain that stores this information “autobiographical” information, and is so called, and it makes intuitive sense that since this is the mental construct of your sense of “self” and your life experiences, that it is where the “inner critic” resides as well.
We have “parts” of ourselves that form our personality and do so often at times in early childhood when we were full of fear, even of things like the “boogeyman”. Though they do not have a lot of logic, children do the best that they can to make sense of the world and to stay safe. The problem is, most children think that it is their fault for virtually every unpleasant situation.
They blame themselves for everything from mom and dad’s divorce to their impatient teacher yelling at them inappropriately. Interestingly enough it seems that after age 7 or so, most people begin the totally opposite behavior of blaming everybody else for everything and avoiding responsibility. By then, most people are so full of self-doubt and shame that they spend the rest of their life projecting their feelings onto other people. Life does not need to be lived judging, comparing yourself to everyone else and beating yourself up for subjective performance.6
Personal power is true power when it comes from the inside out. Consciousness, or your self-awareness is the golden key to accessing this inner power. Right now, our world tends to think of false, unsustainable power as “power over” others. It is a creation of ego, and is always coming from a place of fear and survival or self-protection.
It is the source of our outdated “hierarchy” leadership model. Hierarchy has its place in extreme situations of life or death, such as war, yet in everyday life it tends toward death of the personal growth, self-expression and fulfillment of the individual. Even the “leader” who is leading under a rigid hierarchical system is stunting his or her growth, as they tend toward mask wearing and inauthenticity to maintain their illusion of power over others.
A better idea is “collaborative change”, beginning first between your own mind and heart and then learning how to connect and collaborate with those within the various contexts of your social situations. As we “make friends” with the various “parts” of ourselves our personal power increases as does our inner peace and awareness of purposeful living. This is the way to uncover your true, “authentic” self and realize much more of your true potential.
We are now witnessing rebellion against this imbalance of energy as people are beginning to make the choice to choose self-actualization over living a “living dead” style of life. Living just to survive and “stay safe” can become a fate worse than death at some point. Why is there so much chaos, fear and confusion in our world? Well, most people are fighting a “war within” themselves.
We are so conditioned to mask wearing and fearing our feelings that we begin to dis-integrate the parts of ourselves, or another way of looking at it is that we begin to disintegrate – literally. When we create stories about our identity and the world around us that no longer serves us and we refuse to update our consciousness, the parts that carry stories of shame or what has now become dysfunctional behavior start to create inner chaos, which of course leads to lack of inner peace.
Funny thing is, most of these perceptions were created when we were under the age of seven when many children dwell in fear of the “boogeyman under the bed”. Unfortunately, according to the most recent brain science, our memories are stored in our bodies at a cellular level and with the meaning that they were wired into the brain. So, if you believed your second grade teacher when she impatiently called you stupid and you don’t know how to retrain your brain around the “story” you wired into your brain about “who you think you are”, you may repress this part of yourself you feel ashamed of and it will become a “shadow” in your psyche, until you shine the light of truth on it.0
Confidence and empowerment is something near and dear to my heart, as I know the pain of self-rejection and the hazard of constantly striving to over achieve. It’s not productivity that is the problem; the issue is the mindset in which the goals are set and undertaken.
If we as women buy into the faulty thinking that our worth is based on what we do, what we look like and whom we are trying to please today, we will never have peace of mind, empowerment and personal power or authentic confidence.
The driven behavior that is going on in our society today is not even healthy masculine behavior. Truly healthy masculine energy (not male, -masculine- there is a difference) allows us to move forward into life and get things done. It creates a sense of independence, provision and protection.
Even as women we need to have a balance of these qualities in order to speak up, have courage to go through fear and to keep people out of our space when we need to. These qualities are not limited to males/men. The driven quality that most people attribute to men that we see is really the wounded ego. In fact, men need to live in more balance and tap into the feminine qualities of the Queen also, truth be told. The need to relax, feel and enjoy life is a human need for health and well-being.
The ego, our sense of human identity has its place and I believe that if you did not have one, you would not be able to self-identify yourself. Yes, you can be aware that you have an ego, yet are NOT the ego. You can be aware of yourself as a spiritual being, yet living the human experience via your “role” or as you call yourself, yet not get lost in the ego. This only comes via awareness and spiritual maturity which is a process unique to everyone.
It is not a one size fit all cookie-cutter process. Anyway, the ego wounded pushes and drives us as it gets lost in “survival of the fittest”, judgment, competition, all based in fear. Ego gone wild is fear at its worse. So, in earlier decades of my life, my ego, (I too was lost in it at one time), in its need to survive and get, (notice I said “get” not “receive”) affirmation and what I perceived then as love was always striving to prove that I was “good enough”.
Yet, funny thing was I never truly felt good enough or that I had enough of anything, be it time, energy or money. This is no way to live and accounts for all of the stress, fear and chaos that is going on in the world today, not to mention war, disease and greed. As women, it’s time to see through this nonsense and stop the madness in ourselves first, and then perhaps we can do what the Dalai Lama said in regard to “the western woman saving the world”.
If we don’t save ourselves first, the attempt to play rescuer again is a waste of time and as dysfunctional as ever. If we don’t develop confidence from our CORE, it’s just fake, cosmetic. Living into the Queen is about self-love, self-acceptance, and recognizing the POWER of love and feelings. Our feelings are just a guidance system to reveal to us what we truly perceive; not what we give lip service to.
As human, women and men, we have allowed ourselves to be conditioned like Pavlov’s dog to repress our feelings and run away. When we learn to make friends with them, we then are able to be truly empowered and physically healthier as well. As we face our fears and release this repressed pain-body of emotion that dwells within us at a cellular and energetic level, we can heal. Once we heal our wounded ego, these “cataracts of the soul” can fall away and we can let our Light shine and see others and ourselves more clearly.0