All of us battle with fear in some form. There are many different types of fears, I am referring to the more emotional and irrational types of fears. These are the ones that are usually driven by experience and emotions like, fear of failure, fear of others, fear of judgment, and fear of death.
My battle is with fear of disappointment. When you come from a chaotic upbringing, you become acquainted with disappointment. My chaos was my parents’ divorce at 6 years old, then an abusive step-father post their divorce for a short period, and eventually a new step-father, which raised me from 10 on. Some of my disappointment was from my relationship with my father who was in and out of my life. I don’t remember much involvement in my early childhood years. Then I became a teenager, our relationship grew more hostile and emotionally damaging to me. My mom did the best she could to be there for me, but she was caught up in her own past and pain. I experienced so much disappointment out of these events. I have something, I like to call Post-Traumatic Disappointment (PTD).
This may cause me to react to anything that appears to be and feels like disappointment. I have to be careful of the expectations I have in relationships. If they are idealistic, my PTD will trigger. This can be a start of conflict in my marriage and/or other relationships. One of the symptoms of my PTD is assumption thinking. When you have known disappointment like I have, you can presume and assume it’s coming. The problem is this is not always the case.
This fearful thinking needs a refocus. Fear is deceptive and lies to you. Fear is an emotion and we can’t be driven by our emotions. Even if it feels like something, it doesn’t mean it’s true. My mindful trick is to focus on what I know to be true, asking what are the facts of this situation or the good character in the relationship.
Instead of focusing on and labeling it disappointment and hurt, I think of it more as a temporary interruption. When things didn’t go the way, I wanted them to in the past, I usually can see how it benefited me in some way. Maybe what I wanted wasn’t what was best for me or it helped me grow in character or revealed a purpose. I can see how my upbringing shaped my life and the course that I am on and I had purpose birthed from the pain. When I recall these events, the present situation can look more like an interruption and less like disappointment.
Fear can overwhelm you and consume you. The consequence is living in an emotional prison, having more conflict in our lives, and less satisfaction. Practicing mindfulness and changing the way we think through our fears is the solution for overcoming the emotional fear battles.