Every Little Thing's Gonna Be Alright
Remember when you were a kid and you used to be afraid of things that were really harmless? Or better yet, that weren’t even real? The possibilities ranged from the dark to frogs to monsters in the closet. Regardless of what you were afraid of, I think it’s safe to say that having irrational fears is a normal part of growing up. While most of us have moved past these fears, we have replaced them with some more sophisticated but equally unfounded ones. I’ve been remembering my dreams a little more than usual lately and I continue to be amazed at the content that my subconscious mind is producing. I woke up the other night from a somewhat unsettling dream where I was traveling with my family and everything was going wrong. I left my suitcase at the check-in counter, I was harassed by security, I got separated from my family at the airport and eventually ended up missing the plane. As I lay in bed thinking about the dream and where it came from, I realized that somewhere deep in my subconscious is the belief that things aren’t going to work out, that I am going to screw up and that generally, there is something wrong.
Unlike the monsters in the closet or the dark room, these fears are much more subtle and therefore, much more harmful. I realized that a lot of the time, they are the lens through which I view myself, people and life and they shape my experiences in a big way.
The more I questioned where these beliefs came from and how they got in there, I realized that this tendency to be fearful originated in my childhood, when I was vulnerable and impressionable. Although the content has changed, the pattern has survived until now. What’s most interesting is that my life experiences have not validated or confirmed these fears. The truth is that I’ve had an amazing life and when I really think about it, I haven’t suffered at the hands of circumstance all that much, if at all. All the things that really matter have always been present in my life and whenever I have lived in suffering (or the illusion of suffering), it has been the result of my perception of what was going on rather than the actual inherent difficulty of any particular circumstance. In other words, things have always worked out just fine, I’m not a screw-up and life is actually pretty damn good!
Of course, there are certain challenging circumstances that we will inevitably have to face in life: death, loss, change, hurt, sadness. These are all experiences which can’t be avoided but they can be great opportunities for learning and growth. More importantly, it would be completely insane to forego all the other joyful experiences life has to offer by spending all of our moments in anticipation of that which we fear.
So what’s the solution? The first step and most important one is awareness. Knowing that these stifling beliefs exist in your mind is a great start. This means being conscious of the lens through which you are viewing life as it unfolds, and readjusting your focus as soon as you become aware of a distorted or self-deprecating view. The next step is to replace any irrational fears with more positive, empowering beliefs. Saying or writing out affirmations every day is a great way to root these new beliefs deep in our consciousness. The fact is that we’re alive and that in itself is cause for joy. Every moment we spend living in fear and worrying about things that are out of our control causes us to experience the emotions of the tougher circumstances even when they aren’t really happening.
Remember, the old beliefs are very sneaky so it takes consistent practice of becoming aware and replacing to transform them. So open the closet door, pick up the frog, turn on the light and see that there is nothing to be afraid of. And if you’re still having a hard time letting go of your worries, a little bit of “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley always does the trick. Sing along!
“Don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing is gonna be alright.“
Written for The Daily Love (Sept. 17th, 2011)