Crippling Fear

 flickr_-_sukanto_debnath_-_-1How many of us live with a gnawing fear of failure? Some of us are claustrophobic (fear of small spaces); others have acrophobia (fear of heights). Then, of course, there’s always snakes, in-laws, falling, and computers. I coined a phobia once—Christophobia! Fear of Christians.

The list of Phobia’s goes on ad infinitum. Too many of us pile one fear upon another, compounding the depth and extent of a once simple fear, now, a muddled mess of fears.

As the horde of our fears combine, they produce in us a reaction— an invisible shield of protection. This is a wall we put up to guard against further “attacks,” whether real or imagined, from the world outside. Unfortunately, over time, our inner walls start to crumble, and we find ourselves less protected than we once supposed. This breakdown of our protective barriers can lead to further fear, a crippling fear.

It is no simple matter to deal with crippling fear, let alone to overcome it. If not addressed it can eventually overwhelm you and take your life. This is a serious, irrational illness.

It is said that perfect love casts out fear. [1 John 4:18]  Short of God’s love for us I haven’t found much perfect love on this planet. Truthfully, sometimes even God’s love for us doesn’t drive out the fear that we grasp. But maybe that’s the problem—we really don’t want to let go of our fear. Somehow it has melded with the deepest part of our core and integrated into our identity. So now, it holds us.

Thus are we drawn into a war within ourselves; and it will not be an easy war to fight. Crippling fear knows just when and where to attack at every turn.

You will need help. Here are some simple tools I have used in my own fight with fear.

1.      Anger. [Yelling at God.]

2.      Prayer. [Listening to God.]

3.      Music.

4.      Scripture. Lots of it.

5.      One incredible friend (ok…, more than one).

6.      Counselors (again, more than one).

7.      Medication.

8.      Letting go of things I cannot change.

9.      Listing my fears.

10.  Single Malt Scotch (with that one good friend).

I don’t know if my list has been helpful: you may need to write your own. Whatever you do, DO NOT let this damn fear consume your life!

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

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troubled

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christian, Troubled, Crisis, Troubles, despairWhat troubles you? Money? Family? Relatives? Competition at Work? Feelings of failure? Emptiness? Mistrust? The list goes on. There are so many things that can get under our skin and irritate us without let-up. Some of us live our entire lives in frustration, crisis mode, turmoil. Nothing is ever settled. Nothing ever seems to work out. William Shakespeare (1564-1616) put it best—

Double, double toil and trouble;

 Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

~Macbeth

            In life, troubles will come; that’s a given. The issue is how we face them when they do come. Some people ignore their troubles, believing if they don’t address them they will go away. They won’t. Others put their troubles out of their mind, pretending they don’t exist. They do. Still others face their problems but have little hope of overcoming them alone. Yet they push on, commiserating with no one.

Most of us are troubled about something-or-another most of the time. Something is always troubling us. So please forgive me if I offer this sound, if risky, advice.

1.      Start with a thoroughly gut reaction! Cry, yell, sulk, hit something (not someone). If your emotions are raw, let them be raw. When something is eating away at your core you need to address it first at a primal level of gut reaction. Then, walk away. Get over it! After some time has passed, even within the same day, regain your composure and start to think clearly, peacefully. Address the issue head on. A true friend may be needed to give you honest advice..

2.      If you are an external processor, talk with a trusted friend who has some wisdom. If you are an internal processor, get alone for an extended time period; ruminate. Drink tea & remain calm.

3.      DO SOMETHING. What should be done first to solve this problem? What RESOURCES can be drawn upon to help you?

4.      Evaluate if your actions made a difference. To what degree did they help toward a solution to these troubles?

5.      What’s next?

6.      Pray for God’s wisdom and insight. You are not in this alone. If you do not believe in God or prayer, do it anyway. There might be a big surprise in the light at the end of the tunnel. (NO, not a train.)

7.      Learn to ask the questions that need to be asked; even if it turns out that YOU are the problem.

There are very few troubles that come our way that do not have a solution. Whether it comes from private pondering or picking the brains of our friends, or turning to God, these are always ways to face our fears and our foes, and to overcome them. DO NOT give up!

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

 

depression

Robin Williams, Danger, Depression, Suicide, despair, needinc, dr, gary, davis             Depression is a silent killer. You don’t even have to die to experience its death. You live the death just under your skin, suffocating your soul, 24/7. It is an insidious infection that never lets up.

Sure, you have moments of elation, rest, momentary peacefulness, or escape. I’ve struggled with it for years. When I first married, my new bride would describe me as morbidly introspective. Nice.

Yet on the surface I was upbeat, forward looking, powerful, and optimistic. Underneath, I always wondered if I measured up to peoples’ expectations. I was sure I didn’t.

So I performed better. And better. And… tried harder and harder… .

Robin Williams recent suicide brought it all back to me—the acting, the humor, the insecurity-amidst-confidence; and especially the fear of being known. I even wrote an article on it.

What drives such a successful man to draw an end to his life? In a word— despair. Def.- The conclusion that life holds no more for you. That managing life is now beyond your ability and/or desire. During my journey as a counselor three individuals have committed suicide under my care; one, premeditated, the other two, on the spur of the moment. I’ve always wondered if I could have prevented these needless deaths. My depression spiraled downward to the deepest depths.

If you could have walked through Robin Williams’ depression with him, what would you have said? What hope would you have offered? What reason to continue living? What great purpose would have fulfilled his life? Certainly his success as an actor and comedian did not bring him the fulfillment he so desperately hungered for.

Many fellow Christians might have offered him the reasons he sought in a relationship with Jesus Christ. But do you realize how strange that could have sounded to someone who had no hope, who sat outside the perimeters of God’s protection? It would have sounded farcical.

So many of us, Christians and normal people alike, place our hope in our personal security, our financial stability, and in our own abilities and self-confidence. I don’t think this is enough.

There is a great deal to be said for reestablishing a relationship with the God who made us. And for cleaning out the garbage of our lives. And for clearing the air with our friends.

I grieve Robin Williams death. He left us, unnecessarily, too soon.

 

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

“When did doilies and your mother’s dishes become so important to you?”

Dr, Gary, Davis, despair, Hobbit, Dwarves, doilies, comfort zone, dreams,  It was with this question that Gandalf the Grey, Wizard of Middle Earth, challenged Bilbo Baggins of the Shire in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

            Bilbo had become comfortable, complacent, uncomplicated; retired, in some senses. He had grown at ease with the life he had come to enjoy in the Shire. Everything was as it should be; everything was in its place; life moved along within predictable perimeters. Then, in one evening, his world was launched into chaos and mayhem with the arrival of Thorin Oakenshield’s band of thirteen dwarves. With dwarves and dishes flying everywhere Gandalf arrives to bring a meager sense of order to it all. It is then that the Quest to retake the ancient Kingdom begins to take shape.

            It is often out of chaos and mayhem that our own lives begin to take shape. Tragedy cuts short our plans and dreams; broken trusts confound our relationships; fear grips our souls with spiritual and emotional stringency. There seems no place to go but…, actually, there just seems no place to go: we believe there is no way out of the quagmire that bogs us down in futility.

Thus do we give up.

            Do not despair. There is always a way to push your way through the fray and conquer. Some suggestions, if you will—

1.      Stop! Give your heart and mind time to recover from the shock.

2.      Ponder. Think through your own shortcomings as well as external causes of the recent events that plunged you into this devastation.

3.      Talk with wise friends; not just with drinking buddies who will commiserate with you. You need sound advice and reflection.

4.      Pray for guidance from above…, especially if you do not believe in a god. There just may be one who might surprise you. Boo!

5.      Do NOT watch excessive amounts of TV to escape. That will merely dull your senses and make you tired the next day.

6.      If you are married, talk with your spouse about what you are experiencing. This is the one person in the world who loves you the most. Time to open up.

7.      If the road ahead still seems muddled, seek professional advice. A life-coach, a professional job coach, a relationship therapist, a pastor, AA. You do not have to go this road alone.

8.      Recall your own network of friends. There usually is someone there with connections.

9.      Use an actual piece of paper and pencil (not pen) to clarify issues, draw connections, identify failures (your own & others), and to lay out your next steps. Do this alone first, then, with someone who knows you v-e-r-y well. BE HONEST.

10.  Let it all go on a walk, a run, a basketball court, Ultimate Frisbee, or a fine dinner out. Thinking about your situation ad infinitum will drive you crazy.

I make these recommendations because I have been where you are now in life. I have known the pain, the broken trusts, the tragedies, the loss of those I love, the personal failure. You can and will get through this— for your own sake, and for those you love.

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

a lion shorn

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christianity, NEEDinc, new, year, aslan, Narnia, resolve, resolutions, help, strength, setback, despairFacing a new year always brings hope for new beginnings, fresh starts, and a revived spirit. We make resolutions to change things, to do the right thing, to gain in character and lose in poundage. This is right and good. The real test comes at the first setback, the first impediment to our efforts; that alarm clock, the snow storm, the pain that doesn’t seem to work its magic on the gain (weight, that is).

We start off as a great lion, ready to defend our pride, ready to battle the aggressor, ready to provide and persevere. We roar; ready to take on all who might thwart us in our dreams. Though the hunters be many, we will avoid their assaults and elude their snares. Our hearts are steeled on what lies ahead!

Nonetheless, within the next 12 months something will come upon you that will crush your strength, undermine your resolve, and quench your spirit. Your roar will be quelled to a pathetic meow and you will cower in a corner somewhere, trying to escape or slink into anonymity. You will be tempted to give up and call it quits.

But that is not what you were designed for.

Remember Aslan of the C.S. Lewis NARNIA books. A lion, shorn of his mane, emptied of his strength, bound and lying powerless on the ancient table of sacrifice. Then…, slain. But he did not stay there. He rose up, greater than before. Ready to do battle. Ready to protect his own. Full of power and might. THIS is what we are made for! Not whimpering, nor cowering. Rather, for overcoming and conquering, in strength and with great graciousness.

So, this year, when the conflicts come, when the confusion overwhelms, and entering a cloister seems the only sensible thing to do, remember Aslan, who eschewed retreat, and reentered the fray. You may despair and believe you are a lion shorn of his mane and strength. But you can arise from the ancient alter and once again rise to greatness. You may need a little help doing it; but that is true for all of us.

For what it’s worth,

Gary