The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear. – Gandhi
Over the past few years I have written about fear often. Whether it’s behavioral concerns that stem from fear in an animal, or fear of an animal, fear has always been one of my favorite subjects. As animal guardians and animal stewards and caretakers, we are sometimes really great at recognizing an animal’s fear. Sometimes we are not so great at recognizing when an animal is afraid, uncomfortable, or feels threatened, and we fail to help them feel safe.
In my life I have found that we can be blind to another type of fear; our own fear. When I am working with a client and they are afraid, nervous, or anxious, their fear often impedes the progress of their pet’s behavior modification process. When they are not able to be objective, unattached, or in a healthy mind set they allow fear to run the show. I can attest to this being true in my life with pets as well. When I allow fear to take over, I am no longer able to help anyone.
Rather than focusing on our animal companion’s fear issues, this post is going to discuss our fear and how it affects our world, and our animal companion’s world.
All fear comes from thought in the form of memory (past) or projection (future)
Changes in the Wind
We are moving soon. Right now my husband is out in California looking for a new home for our family. Moving is not new to our family. We are in the Marine Corps so we are expected to pick up and relocate every 1.5 -3 years. My husband and I both have Wanderlust, so it’s not such a bad gig. But because we have a number of animals who share our home, it does complicate things, to say the least.
The Upside and Downside
Although moving is a huge pain in the derriere, we are grateful. My husband has been selected for command (hence why we are moving a year earlier than expected). This is an opportunity of a lifetime. So needless to say, we are all proud of him and supportive of this opportunity. My husband and I will be a command “team”, so to speak (they even sent us both to school to prepare for this new leadership role).
I am going to be quite certainly, in a whole new playing field. (Deep Breath). As if all of these new duties and expectations aren’t overwhelming enough, we have a house full of animals that have to be uprooted and replanted (again). And this all begins soon.
We pack up. We move. We begin a new life chapter.
Fear of What We Fear Most
As excited as we both are about this new chapter, fears have been coming up in unexpected ways. Last week these fears hit their peak. As the animal guardian for four (very complicated) critters, I am having my own issues with the move. Here in lies the problem.
You might be wondering, What is there to fear? You’re going to live by the beach! Hello!! That’s amazing! Right?! But somehow my fear of completely screwing things up for the animals is front and center. My worries and concerns have been at an all-time high. Rather than being in joy and gratitude for the next life chapter for our family, I have managed to come up with every possible scenario of how everything can go to crap.
Maybe one of the cats escapes en transit as we make our week long trek from the east coast to the west coast. Maybe our sometimes grey grizzly bear of a geriatric cat backslides into his former health and behavioral issues. Maybe our recovering-reactive-canine takes a deep dive back down into the mental Reactive Dog Canyon. Maybe our youngest cat completely loses his mind after the week long journey of multiple hotels, constant car rides, a new unfamiliar home, and he takes a deep dive into Stressville, and urinary tract issues flare up again.
Those are only four of the countless hellish scenarios that I have concocted in my mind.
Why was I imagining those scenarios? you ask. Well, those scenarios have either happened before during times of stress, life’s upheavals, or “Hurrications”. Or they could be possible considering each one of the animal’s individual histories.
But is any of this helpful? Would focusing my attention and energy on any of those scenarios help my family? Would worrying about what-could-go-awry help the animals? NO. My wandering and all too creative mind has not been put to good use.
In fact, it could be the very thing that blocks our family’s success.
“You are far too tolerant of mind wandering.” – ACIM
Success AND Stress Are Both Dependent upon You.
Could you relate to those crazy scenarios that I concocted? Do you catch yourself mind wandering like that when you have something coming up that is either stressful for you, your family, and animal companions? Have you ever been very stressed and anxious about an upcoming medical procedure with a pet? Do you become nervous or fearful when under pressure with a timeline or big changes with your family pets?
If you do, you are not alone. You, unfortunately, are just like the majority of people on this planet. If you are living in fear and letting fear run the show, you, my friend are a hostage to fear. And this bondage can affect the outcome of every challenge your family faces together.
Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves.
Who’s Driving Your Life?
I was out in the forest one day with Hocus and an old school song came on my playlist. All of a sudden it was as if I was hearing the song for the very first time. I heard, understood, and felt the lyrics completely. He was singing about how we let our ego and fear run the show in our lives. But we don’t have to. We can learn to take the wheel and drive. We can take control over our fears. We can decide that we are no longer hostage to our fears. Here’s an excerpt:
Sometimes, I feel the fear of uncertainty stinging clear
And I can’t help but ask myself how much
I’ll let the fear take the wheel and steer.
It’s driven me before, and it seems to have a vague
Haunting mass appeal.
But lately I’m beginning to find that I
Should be the one behind the wheel.
Whatever tomorrow brings
I’ll be there with open arms and open eyes.
It’s driven me before and it seems to be the way
That everyone else gets around.
But lately I’m beginning to find that when
I drive myself my light is found.
~ Incubus, “Drive”
That song is exactly what I am getting at here. We can let fear take over, and create all kinds of scenarios that result in unnecessary stress and worry. We can consciously create circumstances in which our animal companions (and we) become victims of our circumstances.
Or we can choose another way of looking at challenges: We can remember that we have the power to choose to take control over our fears, and release them. These fears have no power over us unless we allow them.
If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment. -Marcus Aurelius
Fears Hinders Guidance, Inspiration, and Solutions.
Fear is rampant in our world. It’s everywhere we look. We are led to believe that fear is natural and should be embraced at times, but I disagree wholeheartedly. Fear is not your friend. Fear is harmful and it’s unproductive. Fear hinders. Fear clouds our minds and creates disharmony where there could be peace.
Whether you are a person or a pet, fear can be debilitating.
Have you ever heard of the acronym of F.E.A.R. -False Evidence Appearing Real? I had my own F.E.A.R. come up with this move and major life transition. Once fear set into my mind I was unable to see solutions. I was making assumptions, creating negative circumstances, and projecting my limiting beliefs onto the moving process, our new home, and our companion animals.
As an Intuitive Empath I have learned (the hard way) that fear blocks everything. Fear taints. Fear stalls. Fear overrides. Fear impedes. Fear ruins. Fear blocks.
Now I know that I am not in my right mind when I am in fear. When I am in fear I am reacting, instead of observing. When I’m letting fear take the wheel and run the show I am not able to use my intuition and my guidance. Using my intuition and abilities are how I best connect with my environment. It’s how I am able to navigate the world on a level that helps me to connect deeply, compassionately, and objectively with everyone and everything. But when I am in fear all of this guidance and inspiration is blocked. When I am allowing fear to run the show, I am blindly navigating this crazy world.
I am not different from you in this way. This is true for every person. Fear blocks everything. Everything.
But when we can consciously remove our limiting beliefs, thoughts, perceptions, judgments, and projections, we are able to find solutions to problems, complications, and challenges that arise. Our perception can make or break the process with our pets!
Perception is consistent. What you see reflects your thinking. And your thinking but reflects your choice of what you want to see. -ACIM
The Power of Choice
I am passionate about allowing all species of animals to have the power to choose in every circumstance. The ability to choose to participate or choose to walk away are choices that all living beings deserve the right to exercise. But what about our power to make choices as their guardians? We have the power to choose as well. And the choices we make affect their lives. Even the choices we make in our mind can have a powerful effect.
When a stressful event is on the horizon and you know that it’s going to affect your pets, you have choices to make. We have the power to choose to be in fear or to release those fears. Whether you choose to stay stressed, anxious, or worried is your choice. But what you choose will affect the experience and the outcome for all involved.
The success of your family and your animal companions during times of change depends upon you and how you choose to prepare, address, view, and react during, after, and before the event.
Come what may. We are never victims of our circumstances. We can chose another way.
Choose to tell a different story.
Let’s get Back to the power of choice. Your perception is everything. You can choose to see the current or upcoming circumstances in a new light. You don’t have to remain in fear.
I just did this myself with my insane, rampant fears surrounding our upcoming move out west. After some intense inner work, I released my fears. All of them. I cried. And I even laughed at a few of them. Then I remembered to have compassion for myself for feeling and believing those fears.
Having compassion for the fears that you are perceiving about what “could happen” to your pets is imperative. There is no need to judge yourself when these fears pop up. But if something horrible happened in the past, it does not mean that it will happen again. Do not create scenarios that are not desirable. And do not drag the past into your present circumstances.
Choose to create a new story. Choose how you want the story to unfold this time. If there are preventative measures that you can implement, put them in place. If you are not sure how to implement tools and techniques that will ensure the safety and success of you animal companions, there are qualified people who can help you.
Worry seems like a form of caring, but really it’s a rumination of ego-fear energy. It does nothing to help. In fact, it can make things worse; worry is a form of prayer and manifestation that can call more negativity to you.
I have started to see life’s challenges as one of those books from childhood that had those “choose your own ending” options. Do you remember those? I loved them. When things got a little hairy, I knew I could choose a different outcome. Life challenges and upheavals with our animal companions can be like those choose-your-own-ending chapters. We can choose to write a new story.
If you now know better, do better. We do! If you have learned from your mistakes in the past, move on. We have. But if fear is running your world, you won’t know how to do better. You won’t be able to move forward. If fear is rampant in your mind you won’t be able to tell a different story.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
I finally cleared the clouds of fear that were clouding my judgment about our upcoming move. I set aside my worst fears about the animals, and how I would fail them all. I released my fear of not measuring up. I let go of the negative and worrisome outcomes I had created in my mind.
I have decided to choose to move forward without fear.
I have remembered that I know what to do. This is what I teach other families how to do with grace and ease! I can do this. And I will. I am capable of doing it with grace, ease, and success within our own family. I am willing to see the countless ways that we will all be successful. I can now see that there is really nothing to fear. I do have the power to create success with each animal, within myself, and for our family. I will remember to stay in gratitude at every moment. Gratitude will be my guide.
This is how I am choosing to experience our new life chapter. This is how I am now choosing to view our animal companions in their new world. A safe, empowered, and successful new life is the world that we will create for them. This is the world they will live in. They will succeed. They will thrive. None of us will live in a world of fear. We will be safe and sound.
I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. ― Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Ready to Release, and Rock & Roll?
Are you ready to release your biggest fears? I am. And I hope you are, too. This is part one of a four part post. In the next post I will discuss how fear and emotions affect the mind and body. And the following posts will cover how Fear and Stress Affects Our Pets, and in the last post I will offer Practical Advice and Tips You Can Use Before, During, and After a Big Transition with Pets.
I am not listing these tips now for one very important reason: Before we put anything into practice, before we can think clearly and objectively, and before we are able to address any kind of behavioral or medical issue, we have to get fear out of the way. Fear blocks. Fear impedes. Fear stalls. Fear clouds judgment. Fear is the root of failure. Fear is not our friend. Fear must leave.
So for now, the first step is focusing on releasing any and all fears. That is your first task at hand. Then you can move forward fearlessly toward success. You can do this. Let go of your fears. Live the life you were meant to live. Be brave. Trust. Let go.
“I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. –Cheryl Strayed