Tag Archives: deepest fear

What Me Worry?

17 Dec

It’s been said that 97% of what we worry about never happens. And yet, for some of us, it’s seems almost impossible to put a stop to worrying. What is worry? The psychiatrist Carl Jung characterizes worry as a substitute for legitimate suffering. In other words, it’s neurotic, not helpful and a waste of time. Worry is when your thoughts run wild, sometimes to the point of being delusional and out of control. One negative thought attracts another, followed by another and so on until all you can see on your path is disaster. Everything is absolute, and everything is a catastrophe.

How does this happen? Why is worrying likely to cause a tailspin or downward spiral? When you start with one negative thought put out into the universe, the thought is like a magnet, attracting like thoughts. The level of vibration in a negative thought finds similar thoughts because they are vibrating at the very same frequency. Suddenly you have a bundle of worries, creating fear and depression. What you feel in any given moment is always the result of what you’re thinking at that moment.

Recently a friend of mine was selected to give a speech at an upcoming charity event. Betty is a highly intelligent and accomplished woman well known in her field, which is why she was asked to speak. Betty wasn’t thrilled, in fact she was petrified. Very much as I was when I was in New York to accept the Best Toy Store award for Magic Village toy store in San Jose, CA. And just like me this woman could think of nothing but catastrophe. What if I forget what to say? What if my voice cracks? What happens if I lose my place? What happens if I mispronounce a word, or worse yet, someone’s name?

In the weeks prior to the speech all she did was worry. Now think about this. She allowed herself to be consumed by fear and worry for weeks leading up to the event. Were these happy times for her? Of course not! Her worrying overshadowed everything she did in those weeks; her job, time with her family and friends, the pleasure in her romantic relationship, and her peace of mind. And, for what? Nothing. Worrying was a waste of her time, energy and happiness. Did she do well when she actually gave the speech? Absolutely, she was great. Did any of the things she worried about come to pass? Yes. Her mouth was a bit dry at the beginning and she felt a bit dizzy walking up the stairs to the podium. Then, she took a sip of water, took a deep breath and looked out at her audience. She suddenly realized she was just human, the same as everyone sitting in front of her. If she made a mistake, and she did, she still felt the thrill of getting to talk to so many people about why she supported the charity, and why the organization means so much to her.

Nobody asked for perfect, and you never have to show up perfect. We’re all human. We will make mistakes. It’s all part of life. I’ve spoken to hundreds of groups over the years and I will tell you this, not a one of those talks was perfect. I made mistakes. As long as I live I will continue to make mistakes. So what? Who cares? They don’t and I certainly shouldn’t.

Love,

Michael

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From Failure to Success!

10 Dec

Every failure brings with it the seed of an equivalent success. ~Napoleon Hill

It is my belief that each of us is born for greatness and that each of us deserves to have everything that we desire. But how many of us actually achieve this, our destiny? Not many I’m afraid.

In my lifetime I’ve known people who seemed to have all the attributes for success; intelligence, charisma, charm, personality, and a host of other qualities. Yet, no matter the industry or other career path they’ve chosen, they have always struggled. And I’ve known people who lacked most of what my first example possessed, yet they have risen to the top, almost effortlessly. If you managed a sales force or owned your own company you know what I mean.

Up until about a dozen years ago I was like most people, baffled why some succeeded while others of greater talent floundered. I had an inkling that it might be because of fear and the individuals inability to fight through and overpower their fears. Hey, all I had to do was look at myself, a fear based person since birth.

In studying fear I came to realize that all of us feel fear, very often the very same fears as others, but some have the ability to feel the fear, yet do what is necessary to succeed. While others allow fear to stop them in their tracks.

I came to realize that one of the greatest of all fears is the fear of failure. Most of us acquired this fear when we were quite young, probably after our egos got bruised when our classmates laughed at us for a wrong answer. As we got older this fear actually grew and we began to avoid taking risks in our lives. Risk is nothing more than giving up the known for the unknown. But the unknown almost always includes failure.

When you were just an infant you learned how to crawl, then you learned how to pull yourself up to a wobbly standing position, albeit holding on to something for support. Then you let go of that support and took your first step. Did you then race across the room doing back flips? No, you probably plopped back down to the floor. So, you crawled back to that table or chair for support and started all over again. Did you think of yourself as a failure? Of course not. This is how we all learn.

Was there a seed of success in failing and failing, and then finally learning how to walk? Of course there was; you learned to run, to jump, and to dance.  

I am now going to give you permission to fail. Yes, go ahead and take a risk. It’s OK to fail. Why do I want you to fail? Because that’s how you learn. That’s how you grow. And please remember this: Failing does not make you a failure. It just moves you one step closer to success, as long as you don’t give up.

Love,

Michael

Fear is Like Gravity – It Holds You Down

1 Nov

Be thankful for gravity. If not for just the perfect amount of gravity we would all be floating around uncontrollably, which could be a real problem as we dodge other people, cars, trucks and virtually anything not nailed down.

Fear, on the other hand holds us down too, but unfortunately in a more insidious and harmful way. Fear, when not faced and overpowered, will often freeze us in place. Afraid to make a decision, afraid to make a choice, afraid to take a chance, we often do nothing.

I have a very close friend in that position right now and I’m not sure how to help him. Brent has been married for around 30 years to a woman I’m not sure he ever loved. They have 3 beautiful children and 3 grandchildren. Brent was never a great father but he’s making up for that now by being a wonderful grandfather.

Brent has been out of work for approximately 2 years and has not found another job. And I’m beginning to believe he doesn’t want one. Money is now tight. Very tight. I have suggested to him that with the kids all grown and his marriage an empty shell to just walk away from the life he’s lead, and begin a new life, one of his choosing.

But Brent can’t choose. He can’t make a decision. And actually as I look back on his life, he’s always let others around him make the decisions for him. I wonder why that’s so. He grew up like me in Chicago, but I don’t think his parents or his siblings had problems making a decision, only Brent. Brent has always been paralyzed by fear.

Recently, I read an article about a study of how people respond to emergency situations and it described an airplane crash with survivors. Some people would get up immediately and head for the exits. Others would instinctively look around for other survivors and help them to escape. And then there were those who just sat in their seats, paralyzed with fear, who did nothing. And that’s where rescuers found them. Dead in their seats. And there were more of these people then you would imagine.

I’m stymied. I love Brent like a brother and I’m at a loss as to how to help him. If I just gave him money he’d use it to pay his immediate bills, but in a matter of weeks he’d be back to where he is now.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I can’t help Brent. Maybe all I can do is offer him the tools, the encouragement and the support, and the rest is up to him.

Love,

Michael

Can Fear be a Gift?

30 Oct

The majority of my blogs and articles about fear describe it in negative terms. How fear prevents us from truly living the life we wish for ourselves. How it keeps us from having, being and doing the things we most desire.

Today, I’d like to talk about the positive side of fear. And yes, there is a positive side. You see if our ancestors hadn’t experienced fear there is a good chance you and I would not be here today. No blog and no readers.

Like most animals, we of the human species have a built in early warning system to protect us from dangerous situations. It’s very much like the burglar alarm systems many of us have in our homes. It starts with the alarm itself found in the oldest part of our reptilian brain, a nodule known as the amygdala. The amygdala receives signals from our five senses very much like the burglar alarm that is connected to the windows and doors in our homes. When any of those doors or windows are breeched signals are sent to the alarm and it begins to ring.

The amygdala is always working monitoring what we see, hear, smell, taste and feel. If any one of these sensors suspects danger it immediately notifies the amygdala to prepare the body for what we refer to as, fight or flight. Perfect for when a wild beast looks at us and thinks dinner, or a hostile neighboring tribe is looking to conquer our village, make us slaves and steal our wives and daughters.

The first thing that happens when our amygdala suspects danger is to determine if the danger is real. This takes but nano seconds. If it does sense we are in danger it goes into action: The body is bathed in hormones, most notably adrenaline. The heart beats faster. The lungs take in more oxygen to mix with the sugars in the blood to produce more energy. Our senses sharpen. And, the blood supply is redirected away from the digestive track to the muscles. Our body is now ready to fight for our very lives, or run to escape our attackers.

When this happened to our ancestors they survived. We are living proof of that. So fear is definitely good, a gift.

But here is the weird part. Your amygdala doesn’t know the difference between a signal from your five senses, or a delusional thought you hold in your mind. So if you’re a salesperson who has to call a prospect and you’re afraid they’ll get mad at you and hang-up, your body will feel the fear and respond in a similar fashion to being chased by a pit bull. If there is someone you want to meet at a social gathering and you’re frozen in place by fear that you’ll be rejected and humiliated, your body is feeling the same stresses it would if you were confronted by a mugger on a dark street. This certainly doesn’t make much sense now, does it?

So, learn the difference between real fear that protects you from danger, and delusional fear that robs you of all the things that would add joy and happiness to your life. Once you do this, your life will never be the same.

Love,

Michael

Am I my Brother’s Keeper?

18 Oct

After Cain kills his brother Abel God asks Cain where is Abel. And Cain replies, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Implying, how should I know. When in fact he did know. He just killed him.

Those five words are probably the most quoted in the bible.

Am I my brother’s keeper? I personally believe so. All men (and women too) are my brothers. We look different. We act different. We speak different languages. We celebrate different cultures. But if we were to remove our outer skin and never spoke, there would be no way to tell us apart. And that’s because we are the same.

And if we are monotheistic, as Judaism, Christianity and Islam are, we believe in one God. We pray to the same deity, although we call him by different names it is the same God. The God of Abraham.

So, if we are all the same, and are our brother’s keeper, why do we hate our brothers and sisters so? Why do we fear them instead of loving them and watching out for their welfare? As God wishes us to do.

We do it because we are afraid. We want to blame others for the things we no longer have control over. We wake up with fear and we lie down at night fearing tomorrow. And knowing how afraid we really are politicians and pundits take advantage of our fears to convince us it’s not us, but THEM. And if we can just eliminate them everything would be alright once again.

They convince us that our president is not one of us. He’s not a Christian he’s a Muslim. He wasn’t born in “our” country. He doesn’t think like we do. What they are really saying is he’s black and we should return to the days when it was accepted belief that blacks were inferior to us. They want us to fight back against the inevitable; we’re going to lose our white Christian America. Get over it. We’ve already lost it in California and lo and behold, nothing has changed.

They convince us that corporations are just like people. When we know they’re not! People have consciences. Corporations do not. Corporations think only short term and they think only of making a profit and to hell with the people of this country or any country for that matter.

They convince us that contrary to the fact we got screwed by the big banks on Wall Street, that we shouldn’t add any new “big” government regulations, practically assuring all of us that we’ll probably get screwed again.

They convince us that even though the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, demanded that their suppliers move their manufacturing to China so that they could offer lower prices to their worldwide customers, it was OK that millions of Americans lost their manufacturing jobs. And what is even more incredible is that the very people who were put out of work – still shop in their stores.

They convince us that we don’t want a government run healthcare system. But those on Medicare (including me) love it, and demand that legislators keep their hands off of it.

Obviously, I did a little venting of my frustrations here. But isn’t it time we put away our fears and began to see and love our brothers and sisters as ourselves? After all, wasn’t it God that wanted us to be our brother’s keeper?

With love,

Michael

My Greatest Fear For My Country

24 Jun

My greatest fear for my country is a fat and stupid electorate.

Picture in your mind a television commercial in the not too distant future being shown in a foreign country. It shows a large number of obese children rummaging through a landfill just outside of Newark, NJ. (Please forgive me good people of Newark. This landfill could have been in any American city).

A distinguished older gentleman turns to the camera and says, “Hello, did you know for only $60.00 a month, a mere $2.00 a day you can adopt one of these chubby little American children and provide them a healthy meal to replace the happy meals they’ve been living on, plus a monthly educational connect-the-dots book.”

“Let’s talk to one of these children.” (Little Mikey waddles over).

“Hi, what’s your name?” Mikey. “And why aren’t you in school Mikey?” There are no teachers left. “Oh, and why is that?” Well when my older brother was in school there were 30 kids in his class, and then they didn’t have the money so they fired half the teachers. And then there were 60 kids in his class. And then when I got to his grade they again fired half the teachers so there were now 120 kids in the class and because it was so hard to teach that many kids at once, the teachers who were left, all quit. And nobody wants to take the job and replace them.

“I see.” (Turning once more to the camera). “There are a lot of kids in the U.S. just like Mikey. Fat, diabetic and totally uneducated. Won’t you donate today to bring nutrition and learning to these lost children. Call 1-800-WERDUMB and donate today.”

With Love,

Michael

How to Ask Questions

21 Jun

In an earlier blog post I asked the question, why are asking questions so difficult for so many people?  Without being redundant I explained that as children we were taught to answer questions, not to ask them. In my house growing up I heard things like; don’t ask so many questions; if we wanted you to know we would have told you; that’s none of your business; I’m busy now, go ask your mother; children should be seen and not heard; that’s an important person so don’t bother them; your opinion is not wanted; and a big one for me, Michael, don’t be so nosey! And let us not forget, “curiosity killed the cat!” What cat? Who’s cat? How did it die?

As children our minds were like sponges. With so much to see and so much to learn, it was natural to ask questions. We didn’t know about social norms. We didn’t know about being impolite. We were just curious.

So here we find ourselves many years later at some association meeting mingling with other people, who are there for the same reasons we are. We stand alone feeling this uncomfortable fear deep in the pit of our stomachs. Wanting to introduce ourselves to others but afraid. Afraid we won’t know what to say. Afraid we may be bothering the other person. Afraid they’ll find us not very interesting. Afraid that our voice may betray our nervousness. Not sure how to disengage. And always fearing a pregnant pause, where the conversation stops and you reach that embarrassing moment where you’re not sure what to say or do next.

So let us talk about overpowering our fear of walking up to a complete stranger at a social event, or a business networking mixer, and engaging them in a conversation. First thing to know is this; everyone there is there for the same reason you are, to meet new people. Either to make new business connections or to make new friends. The second thing to know is that almost everyone you do meet will be feeling the same fears as you. After all, we all grew up in similar dysfunctional families.

So here is what you must learn – to ask questions. Dale Carnegie tells us in his bestselling book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, to get the other person to talk about their favorite subject. And that is – themself. And it’s really not too hard.

If you are at an event where people are wearing name badges (always wear yours on the right) they should have the name of their employer or business under their name. Let’s say I walk up to Jonathon Rogers who works at Main Street Bank, this is what I would say and do: Hi Jonathon, my name is Michael Luckman as I reach out my hand. (Note: Don’t call him Jon or some nickname you called your cousin Jonathon when you were kids. Use what’s on their badge). Next: I see you’re with Main Street Bank. What do you do for them? When they answer you might then ask, How long have you been with Main Street? Then you might ask, Did you major in finance while in college? If they say no, I majored in Phys. Ed. You might respond, Well that’s a big change, so, how did you get into banking? Continue this questioning and play off what the other person says to you.

You see, this is not rocket science. All you’re doing is asking questions about the other person and getting them to talk about themselves. Don’t worry if they don’t ask you about yourself. They were probably just afraid. But here is what they’re thinking when you do disengage: “Wow, that person was really interesting. I like him.” And they’re talking about you.

With Love,

Michael