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December 3, 2013

Managing Risk

I came across a you tube video of a person who was expressing a disagreement with another you tuber. Her message to her fellow you tuber?

“You are going to die.”

It was only after she clarified that it was not a threat that I was able to understand her message of passive intimidation. Pretty much that she considers the other you tuber to be an angry and hostile person and if he didn’t address his issues of anger that he would die soon, presumably from bad health.

Then there was a Facebook comment by a namesake of mine, who was spreading the word of God –  through passive intimidation. This was what his comment read;

“Accept God in your life or perish in a lake of fire! That’s right, God kills”. Now I respect the guy and all, and I usually ignore his religious rants, but this time around I couldn’t resist.

“One would think that Jesus and his Father have issues with dealing with rejection”, I responded. This set of a firestorm of exchanges between us, where he quoted verse after verse from the Bible,  assuring me that death was imminent while I responded in many ways informing him that fearing an all loving and all forgiving God was irrational.

 

Messages of impending doom are irrational, because if death is to impending doom, then all human beings are scheduled for a date with impending doom from the day they are born. So why fear destiny?

Working with clients who struggle with anxiety, I have noticed a pattern, which is that all their fears can be traced back to a fear of impending doom, and it is usually well into therapy that it is revealed that they were raised in an environment where they were motivated by fear. The conditioning to be motivated by fear was so powerful that they began using it on themselves, albeit with detrimental consequences.

In worse case scenarios  of chronic anxiety, I have seen clients develop a case of learned helplessness after habitually ruminating on possible worst case scenarios. When faced with a challenge, their brains  immediately transition into considering and analyzing everything that could go wrong, which leads to inaction due to becoming emotionally stuck.

In this previous blog post, I have discussed one effective strategy for overcoming fear, which pretty much involves using one fear as fuel to get past the other. However, what if you took things to another level? What if you retrained your mind to begin seeking quality and meaning of life over quantity in life?

I mean to survive is inherent in all living creatures, but isn’t it a form of death in disguise if surviving was all we did? At some point we would near the completion of our life cycle and we would slowly transition into the weaker than and powerless state we were when we first came into this world. Looking back, would our lives bear any semblance of meaning and purposefulness?

The woman I discussed about in the first paragraph was right about her rival you tuber, he is going to die and so is she.  Hopefully for their sake not anytime soon, however life for all mankind is temporarily. Which makes this next strategy for getting past fear all the more meaningful, which is to live with purpose.

Think about it,  if you came to accept that your stay on this earth was finite, and stopped fearing the inevitable, how different would your life be? What would you do differently, starting today? What would you stand up for? Would you have more energy or less?

I don’t have a specific road map for how to begin living purposefully, except to write that coming to a place of acceptance and peace with your finite existence lives you little choice but to begin seeking a more meaningful and purposeful existence.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

 

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