Thursday, April 30, 2009

What is the Fear?

Let’s face it: Hidden fear is more powerful than disclosed fear. Pastor Rick Warren, the king of acronyms and alliterations, cites fear as “False Evidence Appearing Real.” And, it’s scary stuff.

So, what resonates for you in this picture? The shark cruising the neighborhood looking for a tasty treat… or the surfer who thought he was simply out for an afternoon of fun? Are you more likely to play a role of villain, or victim? Or, would you be the lifeguard hero on the beach coming to save the day?

The interesting thing about fear is what happens to us when we’re gripped by it. Often, we slip into characters… call them dramatic roles … and play out these scripts that we’ve been playing our whole lives… the man afraid of conflict who “goes small”… the woman afraid of being betrayed who turns into an icy cold emotionless villain… the office manager afraid of losing her sense of worth who saves the day by staying until all hours of the night.

The antidote for hidden fear is to bring it into the light. Disclose it. Own it. Step outside of it and ask, “What’s really going on here?”

So, who are you playing right now?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What Advice Do You Have For Them?

We were about to wrap up for the day. It had been a tough morning with difficult issues. Out of left field, one of the members said, “Could we spend a few minutes talking about some tactical steps that we need to figure out? Frankly, we don’t know what we should do!”

We didn't have much time, so I invited the whole group to stand up from the couch and come across to the other side of the room for a huddle and then whispered something like…

“So, there’s this group sitting over there on the couch and they don’t know what to do. What advice do you have for them?”

And, guess what? Immediately, ideas began coming forth. Things began to get un-stuck. “Well, they could just…” and pretty soon everyone was building off of the other ideas. When they wound down, I invited them to take a few steps further away and said…

“Okay, now it’s six months from now. The issue that group on the couch was facing has successfully resolved. Where do you think they are now? What have they learned?”

And we talked some more. More ideas. More creativity. And then, I asked, “So, from this place of successful resolution, what words of encouragement do you have for that group on the couch?”

And, out came the most positive, upbeat, “take no prisoners”, “go get ‘em” remarks imaginable!

Will they be successful? I don’t know. But, they sure got some great support from that group standing on the other side of the room!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

It’s Not Safe Here!

I was debriefing a meeting that I had attended with another guy and he made the comment, “that meeting was totally unsafe.”

Really? I felt very comfortable in my skin, knew what I was about, had clear boundaries. Wouldn’t have judged it “totally unsafe” as he had. But, it was his judgment. His experience. His emotional response, perhaps. And, he didn’t own it that way. To him, “that meeting was totally unsafe.”

Well, there’s a lot of talk about safe and unsafe people. Or, places where I feel safe. Or groups that are safe. “I don’t feel safe with you” is a common statement in relationship.

But then, is “safe” really a feeling, an emotion? Is it Anger? Sadness? Fear? Joy? Huh. Maybe “safe” isn’t so much an emotion as it is a judgment or an observation about what is going on inside of me. So, a good question to get to the root of it would be, “when I judge that I am unsafe, how am I feeling?”

My guess is that the emotion most often connected to safety is fear. I feel fear when I judge that I am at risk of getting hurt- hurt emotionally or hurt physically. So, the clear statement about the meeting might be, “I felt some fear around the possibility of betrayal or loss at that meeting…” or something like that.

And, if “I am feeling unsafe with you”, I might want to own it as, “When I am with you, I feel fear. I make up a story that I might be betrayed in some way because that has happened before. I know it’s just my story, and it’s my feeling of fear…”

When I can own my emotion… in this case fear… I become empowered then to take action, to set a boundary, to take 100% responsibility for what is happening in my life, to step from victim into maturity and to clarify my want… in short, to be me.