Dealing with Fear of Risks

You have been quite bold to make life changing decisions like joining religious life at an young age. But when it comes to ordinary life, leaving your comfort zones may cost you a lot. You may feel the pull of the strings backward when life demands risks. In this module we shall probe the fear of risks that affect self-discipline.

Part two-Self-discipline Module 8

Dealing with Fear of Risks

“Better to be safe than sorry,” says a proverb that dug its way deep into our inner-most being during childhood. For many of us security and safety have become all. In areas where we have self-discipline difficulties, we’ve gone beyond simply following the old saying that advises us to “Look before you leap.” In certain areas of endeavor, many of us unfortunately shy away from either looking or leaping. The unknown has come to be something we equate with danger. Like all the rest of our fears, fear of risks operates undercover. Our only clue to its subtle manipulation lies in its result on our lives: repetition that leads to stagnation.

Many of us feel comfortable only in the presence of sameness, things to which we’ve grown accustomed: same foods, same style clothes, same friends, same recreation, same, same, same. Life becomes a rut when we subconsciously come to view risks as dangerous threats to our security rather than as opportunities for growth. The only difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions. But how, you might ask, does fear of risks interfere with the development of self-discipline?

I’ve found that persons who fear risks are persons who doubt their ability to function successfully in unfamiliar situations. The concept to focus on here is self-doubt. When self-doubt intrudes, your self-discipline effort never receives the very important “I can do it” message that supports its growth.

So while at first glance the connection between self-confidence and self-discipline might appear to be a loose one, it actually is a most important one. For as we learned previously, self-discipline isn’t an entity unto itself; it is a collective composed of many diverse psychological forces which add up to a larger force, much the way that a tornado is a collective of little breezes that create an irrepressible wind by working together.

Moreover, our self-discipline muscle gains strength only through frequent exercise, exercise that leans heavily on self-confidence. So, if we live our lives in a rut, our sense of self-confidence falls into a state of atrophy, wasting away because of insufficient use. We seldom become aware of its loss until a situation arises in which we need it. We then discover that our self-confidence is useless to serve us. Think of self-confidence as you would a suit of clothes that you stored away years ago: You haul it out expecting to slip into it and cut the same dashing figure you did in bygone years, but you find that what hangs on the coat hanger is a moth-eaten, shapeless ghost of its former self.

Likewise, when you stop taking risks, your self-confidence muscle won’t be usable when you reach for it. Therefore you don’t have the use of one of the most important elements of self-discipline: self-confidence. Furthermore, if a person continually refrains from taking risks, for even a short period of time, a subconscious fear of taking risks sets in. To address this fear is to awaken your sense of self-confidence, which in turn will give your self-discipline a psychological boost.

Remember: Self-confidence supports self-discipline.

 

Nothing ventured nothing gained. That’s the ticket. Begin to think of risks as opportunities, not dangers. When you are faced with a risk that you wish to take, but feel immobilized by fear and anxiety, practice self-talk. Ask yourself “What is the worst thing that can happen?” Chances are, if you pursue this question, you’ll find that your catastrophic expectations are probably exaggerated. Of course, this isn’t an invitation to transform yourself into a foolhardy daredevil, but simply a method to get your self-confidence muscle into shape.

It needs repeating: Self-confidence and self-discipline feed off each other. No self-confidence, no self-discipline. You won’t start that diet because you don’t think you’ll stick to it. You won’t start that business because you don’t think you can make a go of it. Indeed, a large part of self-discipline requires that you genuinely believe in yourself.

Remember: Self-discipline can be hindered by fear of risks, but this fear can be overcome by a change of attitude, which is entirely under your control.

 

Exercise #5 – Exploring Fear of Risks

The following exercise is designed to help you discover your hidden concerns and emotions regarding fear of risks. On a sheet of paper we are going to explore three past experiences in which you took a risk and ended up sorry. The only rule here requires that in these situations or events you ended up saying, “I wish I hadn’t done that.”

Take your three experiences from your earliest memories. Explore your childhood. Be specific. Name names. This will give you an awareness about how, when, and where your attitudes and beliefs about taking risks originated.

Note: Spend no more than fifteen minutes on this exercise. Hyde will be peering over your shoulder and giving you a load of reasons to simply think about it rather than write it. Don’t listen to Hyde!


As you write take notice of yourself both physically and emotionally. Physically: Do you clench your teeth? Do any of your muscles tighten? Your stomach muscles? Neck muscles? Do you notice any changes in your breathing rhythm? Faster? Shallower? Emotionally: Do you re-experience the hurt? Do you feel frightened? Angry? Hostile? Embarrassed?

Again, it is important that you take note of your reactions as you complete each of the exercises throughout this self-discipline program. Your reactions will give you valuable insight into how much your current behavior is affected by the past experiences.

 

Start writing NOW

Summary

Don’t underestimate the value of the preceding information and exercises. Whether or not you’re aware of it, positive psychological changes are already taking place within you. In the dark subconscious corners of your mind, you have thrown a searchlight on negative forces that have operated under the cover of darkness for years. Simply by becoming aware of these goblins, you have defused much of their power. In terms of your overall personality, when negative forces are weakened, positive forces are automatically strengthened.

Before moving on, make sure you’re thoroughly familiar with all the subconscious fears we have explored. Don’t forget that within all human beings these fears are present in varying degrees, and often operate simultaneously (yes, you can have a fear of failure and a fear of success). But even though you won’t ever completely eliminate these fears, you certainly can minimize their influence. In other words, you can feel:

üFear of Failure

üFear of Success

üFear of Rejection

üFear of Mediocrity

üFear of Risks

…but forge ahead!

Tip: Write the above fears down on the left side of sheet of paper. Then write a number from 1 to 5 at the right of each fear. Number 1 goes next to the fear that you think you are most influenced by, and so on down the line. This is a simple way of imprinting your most influential fears solidly in your mind so that you can easily recognize them when they are affecting your behavior, thoughts, or decisions.

A SEMI-BREAK

You have been exploring the subconscious fears that put an unseen wall between you and self-discipline. You have recalled past experiences that play a key role in your present behavior. You now are in a better position to recognize these psychological saboteurs, and minimize the self-defeating influences of the past. Now that you are building self-discipline, Hyde is about to pounce upon your progress with renewed determination.

Remember:

A part of you does not want self-discipline.

 

 

To repeat: We all have a Hyde inside us. So, accept that in matters of self-discipline, we are our own most difficult problem. Whenever you feel that Hyde’s negative self-talk is slowing your progress toward improved self-discipline, go back and skim the section called “Meet Hyde.” In fact, you might find it a good idea to do that periodically as a precautionary measure. It’ll keep you on track.

 

With this the second part of this course comes to a close. Give yourself a pat on your back and go for an chocolate or listen to a favourite music, or do something that makes yourself happy, when you finish it. You do merit it.

For reflection and prayer: Put yourself in the shoes of St. paul as he says, “Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one-I am talking like a mad man-with far greater labours, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I have received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I have been shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been adrift at sea;…” (2 Cor .11.23-30). The more the sense of mission the less will be the fear of risk.

 

Home work to be sent: A summary of your important insights regards the fear to take risks after going through this module.

Write a paragraph about your struggles with Hyde in your effort to make steady progress in this course. What are some of the important observations about yourself while doing this course?

Dealing with Fear of Mediocrity

Part two-Self discipline Module 7

Once you discover your inner beauty as a child of God and allow yourself to be loved for what you are, you will have the inner power to stand up for yourself.

After all the daring decisions to give up everything for Christ, it would be tragic to live your commitment in a lower level of consciousness. It is important to live a life of quality and authenticity, without attempting pharisaic perfection. Higher quality of life lived in ordinary simple ways is typical of holy men and women. Low self-esteem that seeks a boost in performance and perfection can pose serious obstacles for personal growth and free service in mission. Here is another of our fears that paralyzes initiative and action. You know, perfectionism is different from doing things with excellence and quality even in ordinary matters. Explore yourself.

Dealing with Fear of Mediocrity

 

How often have you considered yourself a perfectionist? Probably quite often. But how often have you looked beyond your perfectionism to try to get a glimpse of what is behind it? If you are like most people, probably never.

But if you took a long look at perfectionism do you know what you would find? You’d discover that perfectionism is the socially acceptable Siamese twin of a subconscious feeling called fear of mediocrity. Because perfectionism is socially touted as a positive personality trait, we consciously accept its existence within us as desirable. But within the hard-core perfectionist, fear of mediocrity stands unseen off stage and pulls the strings. So, even though perfectionism enjoys acceptance, it creates a pattern of self-imposed pressure that we tend to avoid. This avoidance, in turn, leads to procrastination and self-defeat.

 

An ice skater who once competed in a Winter Olympics spoke about the early days of her figure skating career. She lamented about having been so overwhelmed by the pressure of perfectionism that she had a nervous breakdown and lost most of her hair.

In another case, the pressures of perfectionism prompted writer Dorothy Parker to explain her inability to meet deadlines by saying that for every five words she wrote, she erased seven. Moreover, Parker’s ongoing difficulties with alcohol were probably related to her intense perfectionism. These reactions to perfectionism arenot at all uncommon.

 


Remember:
Perfectionism is really a subconscious fear of appearing mediocre either to ourselves or to others. Attempts to escape our fears often lead us down self-destructive and self-defeating paths.

Fear produces anxiety, and anxiety produces a host of other undesirable physical and psychological conditions, including such reactions as alcoholism, drug abuse, and depression.

When we fear falling short of perfection, our self-discipline power suffers because we subconsciously send ourselves a message that says: “My efforts might turn out to be less than perfect, maybe even mediocre. Better not to even try than to risk that devastating possibility.” In the meantime, while we subconsciously send ourselves that negative message, we’re faced with the reality that perfection is impossible. Our self-discipline, then, suffers a defeat before we even begin our task.

Consequently, regardless of our chosen task, we fight ourselves every step of the way: “If I can’t do it perfectly, then I really don’t want to do it at all.” This inner tug-of-war will shadow our every attempt to exercise self-discipline until we replace our subconscious fear of mediocrity with a realistic, rational point of view: Chasing perfection is like chasing the fountain of youth— it’s a fool’s mission. Immediately divorce your self-esteem from perfectionism.

Remember: None of us is perfect; nothing we do is perfect. We’re all human; perfection is the domain of the Gods.

 

Exercise #4 Exploring Fear of Mediocrity

The following exercise is designed to help you discover your hidden concerns and emotions regarding fear of mediocrity. On a sheet of paper you are going to explore three past experiences in which you were held back by a fear of mediocrity. The only rule here requires that in these situations or events, your course of action was based on a fear of not doing something well enough.

Take your three experiences from your earliest memories.

Explore your childhood, but you need to know that this particular fear grows stronger with age. So you might want also to explore your teen years. Be specific. Name names. This will give you an awareness about how, when, and where your attitudes and beliefs about being mediocre originated.

Note: Spend no more than fifteen minutes on this exercise.

Hyde will be peering over your shoulder and giving you a load of reasons to simply think about it rather than write it. Don’t listen to Hyde!

As you write take notice of yourself both physically and emotionally. Physically: Do you clench your teeth? Do any of your muscles tighten? Your stomach muscles? Neck muscles? Do you notice any changes in your breathing rhythm? Faster? Shallower? Emotionally: Do you re-experience the hurt? Do you feel frightened? Angry? Hostile? Embarrassed?

Again, it is important that you take note of your reactions as you complete each of the exercises throughout this self-discipline program. Your reactions will give you valuable insight into how much your current behavior is affected by the past experiences.

Start writing NOW

For prayer and reflection: Is your perfectionism biblically supported? Jesus said, “You, therefore, must be perfect as my Father is perfect” (Mt. 5.48). What kind of perfection does Jesus ask of his disciples? Are the saints perfect humans in the measure of your perfectionism?

 

Home work to be sent: Write a paragraph of your insights after you have completed this module. You may add your questions or further reflections.


Dealing with Fear of Rejection

Part two-Self discipline Module 6

Your person is more valuable than your success and achievements. Hence perception of being rejected or the possibility of rejection can provoke anxiety. This module deals with a common fear that handicaps quite many good religious. Their deeper vocational values are often sidelined in order to stay in the good books of others. While shaping oneself to fit to the requirements of others, one may end up ‘shapeless’. We need to squarely address the fear of rejection to live authentic lives. Self-discipline requires authenticity. Being authentic, of course, includes benefitting from the feedback and comments of others, even when they are unpleasant

Dealing with Fear of Rejection


Recall this familiar Story

Once upon a bright, sunny morning a man and his young son left their farm to make a trip into town. The boy rode atop their donkey as the father walked alongside. Along the road they encountered a fellow from the nearby village. “You should be ashamed of yourself!” the fellow said, admonishing the boy. “You ride comfortably while your poor, old father has to walk. You have no respect!” The boy and his father first sheepishly exchanged glances, then exchanged places. As the two continued their journey, they chanced upon another fellow. “You selfish old man!” he said. “You take the easy ride while your poor son wears himself out trying to keep up. You should at least let the boy ride also.” Not wishing to offend, the old man helped his son climb aboard. The pair then continued their journey.

Before long, they came upon a woman coming from the opposite direction. She, too, found fault with their arrangement. “I’ve never seen such cruelty! You two lazy louts are too heavy for that poor donkey. It would be more fitting for the two of you to be carrying the animal.”Not wishing to fall from favor with the woman, the man directed his son to bind the donkey’s front hooves together, then back hooves together. Meanwhile, the man himself cut a long, sturdy pole from a nearby tree. The pair laid the animal down, slid the pole through his bound hooves, then lifted the pole to their shoulders-the father on one end, the boy on the other, the donkey hanging upside- down on the pole between them. Carrying the donkey, the pair trudged along. As they crossed the bridge that lead into town, the upside-down donkey saw his reflection in the water below from an angle that he had never before seen. The animal became frightened and suddenly thrashed about violently, causing the pair to lose their grips on the pole. Before they could grab him, the donkey fell off the narrow bridge into the water below. Still bound, the donkey was unable to swim. From the bridge, the father and son helplessly watched as their donkey sank out of sight, into the deep water below.

Moral: After a moment of silent reflection, the father turned to the boy and spoke: “Son, we learned a valuable lesson today. We learned that when you try to satisfy everyone you end up losing your ass.”

 

Because we all like to be liked, fear of rejection often becomes a dominant force in many of our lives. Unless monitored, our need for approval can put us on a long and endless fool’s mission. Fear of losing favor with family, friends, employers, coworkers, or society is one of the most common blocks to establishing and pursuing personal goals.

Let’s explore some of the ways this subconscious fear affects self-discipline. A couple of real-life examples will shed light on how fear of rejection works.

David, during childhood and adolescence, could seldom if ever please his father. As an adult, one of David’s most vivid memories from his youth is one in which he was being chastised by his father for muffing an “easy play” during a Little League baseball game. David’s little teammates witnessed the incident. He recalls the traumatic feelings of inadequacy, humiliation, and loneliness that haunted him for weeks after the incident.

Although less vivid and less intense, similar recollections of rejection color David’s memories of childhood and adolescence. Consequently, as he grew into an adult his fears of displeasing his father grew into a general fear of displeasing anyone with whom he associated, especially authority figures, but often even strangers such as clerks, waiters, etc. Whenever he thought of putting his own desires first, before the desire’s of others, a wave of anxiety washed over him.

Prolonged anxiety always generates feelings of inadequacy and inferiority, which in turn create a defeatist attitude. Such an attitude precludes the possibility of self-discipline. So whether David’s chosen task was a diet or enhanced productivity at work, subconsciously the chosen task wasn’t viewed as worthy because David didn’t view himself as worthy.

 

Another example: Ann, as an adolescent, grew up in a tough neighborhood. She survived by being everybody’s friend. Non-assertiveness, coupled with an extreme willingness to help anyone, anywhere, anytime earned her a feeling of security. “If they like me, they won’t hurt me,” was the message she sent to herself. Consequently, neither her time nor her desires were ever her own.

As an adult, whenever she attempted to follow through on desires that originated from within herself, inevitably she discovered that someone—friend, family, co-worker— usually caused her to abandon her plans in favor of something they felt was more important or appropriate. Because of her background, she had developed a reputation as someone who never says”No.” Whenever she felt the urge to say “No” those old feelings of anxiety and fear surfaced, as if she were still the endangered school girl who had to please everyone to feel safe. Never saying “No” to others meant constantly saying “No” to herself. Self-discipline cannot grow in such soil.

 

Frequently, a person who subconsciously fears rejection doesn’t consciously perceive it as a fear. Rather, this type of fear is perceived as a desire to be a “nice person.” Persons in this position unwittingly spend an enormous amount of time and energy satisfying others and neglecting their own desires. They then become haunted by thoughts of “I never seem to accomplish what I want to,” and experience feelings of unfulfillment.

Unfortunately, this “nice person” seldom knows why she never seems to accomplish the things that she really wants to accomplish. To develop self-discipline you’ll need to overcome feelings of guilt, anxiety, and insecurity for saying “No” to others and “Yes” to yourself, your chosen goals. You’ll then find that your legitimate goals take on a greater importance, which in turn means that your inner resources will rally around your efforts at turning those goals into reality.

 

As you can see, one’s inability to say “No” can have dire consequences. You will do well to know also that fear of rejection

has a second face that reflects our subconscious terror of being told “No.” Whether we risk hearing “No” to a job application,

a marriage proposal, or a pay raise, fear of rejection rears its ugly head.

One of the chief reasons for a high frequency of drug abuse, emotional breakdowns, and alcohol dependency among artists,

writers, and performers is that they constantly live with the fear of rejection. Indeed, to publicly perform or show one’s art work is to risk having it rejected, maybe even ridiculed. Many artists feel, however erroneous, that a rejection of their work is a rejection of themselves. Because members of the Hollywood arts community have finally come to recognize the emotional toll of rejection, workshops and seminars that teach artists how to deal with it have begun to spring up all over Tinsel Town.

Perhaps because of their emotionally sensitive natures, artists are more susceptible to the emotional pain that occurs as a result of rejection. But, like artists, we all quake in the face of rejection, regardless of its form. No one is exempt. We all do our best to avoid rejection, even if it sometimes means engaging in self-defeating behaviors. Simply stated, being told ” No” hurts. And because we are human beings, we don’t like to risk being hurt. For some of us the prospect is terrifying.

 

We learn about the pain of rejection in childhood and adolescence; and it follows us throughout our adult lives. Fear of rejection subverts our ability to employ self-discipline because we feel as if someone is constantly looking over our shoulder, judging and evaluating us. Thus we find ourselves constantly second-guessing ourselves, our choices, and our methods. We then hesitate to throw the total weight of our inner resources behind our endeavors. This approach results in false starts and half-hearted efforts. As a learned philosopher with whom you’re acquainted said to his son as they watched their donkey drown: “When you try to satisfy everyone, you end up losing . . .”

 

Exercise #3 – Exploring Fear of Rejection

The following exercise is designed to help you discover your hidden concerns and emotions regarding fear of rejection. On a sheet of paper you are going to explore three past experiences in which you did something you didn’t really want to do, or you didn’t do something that you really wanted to do. The only rule here requires that in these past situations or events, your behavior was based on a fear of being rejected by friend(s), family, coworker, or society.

Take your three experiences from your earliest memories.

Explore your childhood. Be specific. Name names. This will give you an awareness about how, when, and where your attitudes and beliefs about rejection originated.


Note: Spend no more than fifteen minutes on this exercise. Hyde will be peering over your shoulder and giving you a load of reasons to simply think about it rather than write it. Don’t listen to Hyde!

As you write take notice of yourself both physically and emotionally. Physically: Do you clench your teeth? Do any of your muscles tighten? Your stomach muscles? Neck muscles? Do you notice any changes in your breathing rhythm? Faster? Shallower? Emotionally: Do you re-experience the hurt? Do you feel frightened? Angry? Hostile? Embarrassed?

Again, it is important that you take note of your reactions as you complete each of the exercises throughout this self-discipline program. Your reactions will give you valuable insight into how much your current behavior is affected by the past experiences you are asked to recall.

 

Start writing NOW

For prayer and reflection:Peter in front of the Council: Acts 4.18. “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God..”

When you have to speak out your conscience which may evoke unpleasant reactions in other significant people in your life, how do you go about it?

Home work to be sent:
Write a paragraph on how it was for you to do the exercise and what you have learnt about yourself. Summarize your important insights when you finish this module.


Confronting Fear of Success

Part two-Self discipline Module 5

Yes, you like to be successful, but you may shudder at the thought of being trusted with the top-leadership of your organization or congregation. You may say that you know who you are what you are capable of. You may laugh about the very thought of it. But if a companion of yours becomes successful in his career and life , you may also feel a biting catch in your stomach. The paradox of the longing for and dread of success plays a part in the issue of our self-discipline.

Confronting Fear of Success

 

Webster’s New World Dictionary defines success as “a favorable result.” Nothing frightening about that, right? So what’s to fear about success? Doesn’t everyone want “a favorable result”? Oh, if life were so simple. Unfortunately, however, it isn’t.

Like a double-edged sword, success cuts two ways. We’re all so enthralled with its good side that we tend to overlook its bad side. Subconsciously, though, our feelings regarding the negative side of success are very much alive. A subconscious negative perception about success can overpower our conscious desire to attain it. Naturally, when this happens, our powers of self-discipline operate at half strength; after all, a subconscious part of us does not really want success because of all the responsibilities and complications that go along with it. With fear of success, as with all subconscious forces, we’re powerless to fight it as long as we are not fully aware of its existence. We all know of at least one person who is his own worst enemy; who seems to do everything imaginable to keep himself at a safe distance from success.

Like him, we all to some extent wish to spare ourselves from the negative consequences of success. But, these negative factors from which we wish to spare ourselves are nothing more than shadows; when exposed to light they disappear.

Let’s put a spotlight on a few anti-self-discipline shadows, the things we subconsciously tell ourselves that keep us from

exercising the necessary self-discipline to achieve success.

Following are examples of negative self-talk that make it difficult to throw our full forces behind our pursuits.

“Maybe I don’t really deserve success.”

This type of attitude stems from feelings of low self-esteem, and is frequently related to feelings of guilt. We tell ourselves that we are not worthy of the happiness and satisfaction that come from personal accomplishments. We feel unworthy because of past or current behaviors, thoughts, or actions. This unworthy feeling usually is related to the unfulfilled expectations of others (family, friends, lover, etc.). Our transgressions can be either real or imagined.

Frequently such feelings grew from occurrences that we couldn’t possibly have controlled. Then again, sometimes we

feel guilty because we are guilty. But regardless of why a person feels guilty and unworthy, such feelings are responsible for much self-defeating behavior, subtle but effective self-sabotage.

“If I’m successful, people will judge me with a more critical eye.”

Many people fear success because of the attention, both positive and negative, that would go along with it. They fear that they would feel a tremendous pressure to live up to their success. Many artists frequently go into panic immediately following a well-received novel, song, dance, or play. They say to themselves, “How can I possibly live up to it. Now, everyone is going to expect my next work to be just as great, even better.”

This feeling has thrown many artists into such a panic that they experience a creativity or productivity block, unable to work because of the success of their latest effort.


Anxiety about success affects everyone. We subconsciously tell ourselves that if we ever hit a homer we will always be expected to hit a homer. Then we tell ourselves that if we strike out after hitting a homer the boos will be louder, the disappointments greater, the humiliation deeper. So, rather than risk the strikeout, many of us find reasons justifications, rationalizations, excuses) for not going to bat. Or if we go to bat, subconsciously we don’t put everything into the swing for fear of hitting a homer and having to experience all the attention, pressure, and responsibilities that go along with being successful.

“It’s lonely at the top.”

How will others react to my accomplishments? ” Will they be jealous or resentful?” We frighten ourselves into inaction by convincing ourselves that there are people who will react negatively to our achievements.

Many famous people had to combat the fear of success when their talents got public acclaim. Becoming a celebrity can be quite frightening for some people. Leadership in religious and ecclesiastical circles has become an unpopular choice and is seen as a loners lane. Some major superiors report that after their election even their close friends kept a distance. Some people who are gifted, but dependent on the support of relationships may unconsciously keep a low profile for fear of success and the consequent alienation from close people.

“If I am successful someone close to me will suffer.”

A wife whose husband completed only high school doesn’t follow through on her college degree program. A husband whose

wife is noticeably overweight doesn’t complete his diet plan. A man feels uncomfortable about a promotion over his fellow

workers. A woman worries that having her own successful business will cause her friends to act differently toward her. A

son experiences anxiety about out-earning his father. Each of these persons fear that their success will somehow hurt someone. This aspect of fear of success is particularly difficult because it is based on compassion for someone else, a trait that most us think of as positive. Some religious are afraid to be better off in studies or ministry than their companions or superiors for not causing them jealousy or uneasiness.

“I’ll be overcome by responsibility and pressure.”

Subconsciously we tell ourselves that when the success starts, the fun stops. We tell ourselves that life will lose its joy if we began a daily exercise program, a diet, or any other organized routine. We tell ourselves that we will lose our spontaneity, that we will become boring and drab. Top positions in the church and congregations are dreaded by some because of the pressure of responsibility. Religious top positions are perceived as enemy of fun and pleasure. Notice the watch words of some: “Why to get into trouble” , “keep to the minimum”, or “simple life and no thinking” that keep one to stick to minimum productivity. Some religious superiors say that they are tired of giving good examples to their subordinates.

Get the idea?Each of the foregoing thoughts, actually self-talk statements, are based on imaginary catastrophes. They

hardly represent the whole truth. Even so, they take a heavy toll. We all harbor secret, subconscious fears about the dark side of success.

We imagine untold pressures, overwhelming responsibilities, and many other frightening by-products of success. And so it follows: Subconsciously, we know that self-discipline leads to success. Therefore, we subconsciously fight against self-discipline so we won’t have to face the hobgoblins to which success might deliver us.

 

Exercise #2 Exploring Fear of Success

The following exercise is designed to help you discover your hidden concerns and emotions regarding fear of success. It will give you some insight about your personal feelings. On a sheet of paper you are going to explore three past successful experiences that also created a problem for you. The only rule here requires that these situations or events must be what you considered successes at the time they occurred. As you write about your three experiences, emphasize the problems that came with the successes. Take them from your earliest memories. Explore your childhood. Be specific. Name names. This will give you an awareness about how, when, and where your attitudes and beliefs about the negative side of success originated.

Note: Spend no more than fifteen minutes on this exercise.

Hyde will be peering over your shoulder and giving you a load of reasons to simply think about it rather than write it. Don’t

listen to Hyde!

As you write take notice of yourself both physically and emotionally. Physically: Do you clench your teeth? Do any of your muscles tighten? Your stomach muscles? Neck muscles? Do you notice any changes in your breathing rhythm? Faster? Shallower? Emotionally: Do you re-experience the hurt? Do you feel frightened? Angry? Hostile? Embarrassed?

Again, it is important that you take note of your reactions as you complete each of the exercises throughout this self-discipline program. Your reactions will give you valuable insight into how much your current behavior is affected by the past experiences you recall.

Start writing NOW

For prayer and reflection:Think of a time you shirked responsibility to avoid attention and the weight of responsibility. Reflect on Jesus’ attitude to those who confronted him on his authority.And they said to him, ‘What authority have you for acting like this? Or who gave you authority to act like this?” (Mk 11.28). What do you learn from Jesus’ way of handling both popularity and rejection to fulfill his mission?

Home work to be sent: Write down and send the important insights that you gained from this module.

Addressing Your Fears

Part two-Addressing your fears

Self-Discipline module -4

All of us want to succeed in our undertakings. Any initiative that we take can have different results according to the context, time, place and people as well as our intelligent investment in it. The possibility of a result different from what we expect can be paralyzing for some. Some may take it as an opportunity for learning and developing new skills. Others may shudder at the thought of new initiatives and are up for more failures. “Anything happens because it can happen in the given context and level of consciousness”. Change of behavior calls for dealing with issues that cause it from another level of consciousness. This module probes into your attitudes towards possible consequences of your undertakings.

Develop your Self-Discipline

Addressing your fears

 

Fear of failure

Before You Begin!

The information in this section is accompanied by exercises that involve writing. Although each exercise is different, some general instructions apply to all of them:

Be brief, no more than 15 minutes per exercise.

Be specific, name names.

Be honest, only you will see your responses. After completing each exercise, read over your responses and ask yourself how you feel as you read them. Then, if you are even remotely concerned about privacy, immediately destroy what you wrote.

Important:Don’t just think about the exercises; actually write your responses. Don’t let Hyde talk you out of doing the exercises. It is enormously important that in addition to your intellect, you involve your physical motor system in this part of your self-discipline program. The physical act of writing activates and involves your physical motor system, thus incorporating more of your whole self into the self-discipline process.

Moreover, the point of the exercises is to get you to explore your feelings about certain attitudes that commonly subvert self-discipline. Your doing the exercises will provide you with invaluable insights about when, where, and from whom you might have picked up these feelings and attitudes.

Knowing the past sources of your current thoughts and feelings is important because thoughts and feelings lead to behavior, and behavior, in turn, leads to thoughts and feelings. All aspects of your self are connected. These exercises were designed to simultaneously incorporate your feelings, thoughts, and behavior into your self-discipline development program. The more parts of yourself you involve, the more committed you’ll be.

 

Dealing with yourFear of Failure

 

Most of us have experienced fear of failure. It’s a common psychological phenomenon. In fact, study after study has shown that the greatest obstacle to personal success is fear of failure. Do you find it surprising that even though we all want success, our first concern is not to fail? Indeed, we all harbor fears regarding failure. What most of us don’t realize, however, is that these fears

are based on a self-defeating misconception.

Most people erroneously regard any failure as an accurate evaluation of their worth. That’s why many of us don’t pursue certain desires. The pain of past failures linger in the dark corners of our subconscious, never far away; always lurking, ready to remind us of the emotional pain and the worthless feelings that resulted from a perceived past failure.

Why do we view failure as terrible? We do so because psychologically we tend to connect the failed endeavor to our self-esteem. We don’t separate the task from ourselves. “The task failed, so I’m a failure,” we subconsciously tell ourselves.

We forget to tell ourselves that there’s no such animal as a failure; no zoo in the world has a caged specimen. Sure, a person can fail at a particular task or project. But a person cannot be a failure. Moreover, a person can fail at the same task numerous times yet not be a failure as a person.

The fictitious horrors of failure that are etched into our brains subvert our ability to exercise self-discipline in many of life’s arenas. And therein lies what we really fear about failure: Humiliation!

Consider:Writer Lillian Hellman, after having written a successful play, The Children’s Hour, then wrote another play, Days to Come, that was severely rejected by audiences and critics. The play was immediately mothballed. Taking the play’s failure personally, Hellman was so emotionally devastated that she couldn’t write another play for two years. Even after she eventually wrote one, she rewrote it nine times. Moreover, throughout a long and brilliant career, Hellman never got over the pain of that failed play. Many years later she wrote of the humiliation she felt as audience members walked out of the theater during the doomed play’s opening night performance. In varying degrees, we all react to our failures as did Lillian Hellman. Rather than view them as evidence of experimentation and growth, we humans tend to experience failures as blows to our self-esteem.

Now consider: During its experimental phase, Edison’s light bulb flopped hundreds of times. Did this make Edison a failure? Of course not. Edison saw each failure as taking him one step closer to success. Indeed, because of his attitude regarding failure, he was able to draw on the power of self-discipline in order to persevere. Edison’s experience with the light bulb graphically demonstrates the absurdity of linking failure to self-esteem. I suppose we could say that Edison saw the light.

 

Our egos have been trained by society, schools, and parents that to fail is something about which we should be ashamed. Consequently, in growing up we grew more reluctant to attempt anything at which we were unsure of succeeding; our subconscious thought became “If I fail, I’ll look like a fool.”

Because this thought process goes on subconsciously, we are not aware of its powerful influence on our behavior. But regardless of any task we attempt, when this belief is in operation our power of self-discipline lacks the full force and support of our entire personality. We’re like a six cylinder engine operating on just four cylinders.

What are the personal results of such a scenario? Because of this type of thinking, it is easier for many persons to continue compulsive eating, drinking, or smoking rather than risk the self-imposed humiliation that accompanies an unsuccessful attempt to change.

Or consider the procrastinating religious who can’t get himself/herself to promptly perform the tasks required in his/her ministry. In many such cases, fear of failure is operating. He fears losing face; so he subconsciously tells himself that if he fails, it won’t be quite so humiliating if he hasn’t fully devoted himself. “After all,” he subconsciously tells himself, “I wasn’t really trying.”


This same twisted, subconscious logic operates within students who can’t get themselves to study or complete assignments on time. Ironically, while this attitude provides a pseudo-shield from the self-imposed humiliation involved in failure, it also plays a significant role in most failed enterprises. For unless one fully invests oneself, one’s chosen task suffers.

 

Before self-discipline can be employed, fear of failure must first be accepted, then shown up for the subconscious saboteur that it is. When we drag fear of failure out into the light, we’ll find that humiliation is at its foundation. We, therefore, must continually remind ourselves that failure is not humiliation unless we make it so in our own minds. Failure can be viewed as a stepping stone rather than a tombstone. Once this reality is fully accepted, fear of failure loses its power to sabotage our self-discipline.

The point: Subconsciously, we all link failure to humiliation. Fear of humiliation hampers our ability to make a strong commitment to our chosen endeavors, the big stuff and the little stuff. Commitment is a necessary ingredient of self-discipline.


The following exercise will bring you into contact with your own subconscious feelings about failure and humiliation. These feelings affect you emotionally, intellectually, and even physically more than you probably are aware.

Now that you know the inhibiting power of fear of failure, you can see the necessity of minimizing that power. The formula for reducing fear of failure lies in your refusing to link failure to self-esteem.

For when you perceive failure not as a tombstone, but as a stepping stone to success, you immediately multiply your power of commitment; this automatically strengthens your power of self-discipline.

Remember: Failure is a stepping stone, not a tombstone.

 

Exercise #1 Exploring Fear of Failure


The following exercise is designed to help you discover your hidden concerns and emotions regarding fear of failure. You will explore three past experiences that you perceived as failures, mistakes, or just dumb behavior. Recall these three experiences from any area of your life: work, love, leisure, etc. The only rule here requires that these situations or events must be the most embarrassing and most humiliating experiences that you can recall.

You will be tempted to take all of these three experiences from a recent time in your life because you still consciously feel their sting. But, do not. Instead, take two of them from your earliest memories. Explore your childhood. This will give you an awareness about how, when, and where your attitudes and beliefs about failure originated.

Like ghosts, past failures haunt us. Indeed, past experiences do affect our present behavior. By writing down your worst experiences, you’ll be giving these ghosts concrete form. Then you can confront them squarely. This will be your first step toward freeing yourself from their influences.

Note: Be honest. Spend no more than fifteen minutes on this exercise. And, yes, it will be difficult to write down these experiences. Hyde will be peering over your shoulder and giving you a load of reasons to simply think about it rather than write it. So for you to feel hesitant and uncomfortable represents a common reaction. If, however, you forge ahead you’ll be astounded by the results.

 

As you write take notice of yourself both physically and emotionally. Physically: Do you clench your teeth? Do any of your muscles tighten? Your stomach muscles? Neck muscles?

Do you notice any changes in your breathing rhythm? Faster? Shallower? Emotionally: Do you re-experience the hurt? Do you feel frightened? Angry? Hostile? Embarrassed?

Again, it is important that you take note of your reactions as you complete each of the exercises throughout this self-discipline program. Your reactions will give you valuable insight into how much your current behavior is subconsciously affected by the past experiences you recalled.

Start writing NOW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before you continue:

Did you actually write the exercise? If your answer to this is “NO,” then you just had an encounter with Hyde and you were manipulated. Please don’t continue until you have taken the few minutes necessary to complete the preceding exercise.

For prayer and reflection: Gen. 3.4. The original sin of the first parents was their ceding to the temptation to become like God even ignoring that they were created beings in the garden of Eden. The tendency to be almighty in one’s life and to be in super control of all that is happening in and around oneself is to become a monster in one’s own life and that of our dear ones. Our life can be celebrated within our reality of being creatures and limited beings. How does your faith support you to enjoy and celebrate your vocation as a child of God without dethroning God and take His seat in your life?

Home work to be sent: Write one paragraph about how it was for you to do the above exercise and what have you learnt about yourself.

Understanding Self-Discipline

In module 3 we discuss about our very idea about self-discipline. We should know what we pretend to improve when we work at a program of self-development. “ If you do not know where you want to go, it does not matter which way you take”. In this module we want to pin down the concept of self-discipline into practical terms so that we can really do something with it.

Part one-Self-Discipline module -3

Understanding Self-Discipline

“Apply your heart to discipline” proverbs. 23.12)

 

What Is Self-Discipline?

To begin with: explore your feelings and ideas about self-discipline. Frequently, one’s beliefs about self-discipline will dictate one’s behavior.


Do you think self-discipline difficulty is caused by:

  • lack of time management skills
  • lack of organizational skills
  • lack of ambition
  • lack of concrete goals
  • lack of motivation
  • indecisiveness
  • tendency to procrastinate
  • laziness

 

All of these ideas surface when people are asked about self-discipline problems. With which ones do you agree? No matter, because they all represent symptomsof self-discipline difficulties rather than causes. In this program you will deal with causes.

At this very moment, even as you read, you are getting at the root of the problem, rather than pursuing changes that provide only temporary relief from symptoms. The common surface symptoms disappear automatically as you confront the deeper causes of self-discipline difficulties.

Indeed, you are making changes that will last a lifetime. To continue making those positive changes you’ll need to understand the true nature of self-discipline.

Before you can develop self-discipline, you must first understand what it is. Ironically, the first step toward understanding what it is, lies in knowing what it isn’t.


Self-discipline is not:

  • A personality trait that either you have or you don’t have.
  • Forcing yourself to overcome your own resistance to action by using will power.


Self-discipline is:

ü  A skillthat can be learned.

ü  Becoming aware of your subconscious resistances to action, then overcoming those resistances.

ü  The process of coordinating your conscious and subconscious psychological elements.

 

Your personality is a network of individual but connected elements—desires, emotions, needs, fears, thoughts, intellect, memories, imagination and others. In all human beings these elements operate in various degrees of conflict. Sometimes our emotions pull us in one direction while our intellect pulls us in another. Sometimes our desires try to lead us down a certain path but our fears won’t allow us to follow.

Self-discipline, then, is the skill to direct and regulateall the various parts of our personality so that rather than being immobilized by inner conflict, all of our psychological elements are pulling together in the same direction—toward your consciously chosen goals.

Self-discipline is the process of psychological self management, rather than a single personality trait. Think of self-discipline as the director of a play who gives instructions to individual actors. Think of self-discipline as the conductor of a symphony who insures that the individual musicians all are playing in harmony.

When you’re experiencing difficulty with self-discipline, the question to ask yourself isn’t “How can I get myself to do what I should do?” Instead, ask yourself “How can I get myself to do what a part of me doesn’t want to do?”

 

The Key to Self-Discipline

 

Regardless of whether you’re trying complete an assignment in time, order your room, or be more productive in your occupation, the secret to success revolves around your ability to recognize and deal with the part of you that offers resistance.

While you’re growing up you’re told what to do by parents, teachers, and other authority figures. If you go on to college you’re governed by professors. When you get a job, you have a boss. The discipline provided by these types of authority figures does not depend on whether we are in total agreement with what is asked of us.
Usually, we are told what to do, how to do it, and when to have it done.

Under these circumstances, we don’t have to struggle with any inner resistance. Therefore our self-discipline muscle doesn’t get exercised. Without exercise self-discipline becomes weak and flabby. Then, in situations where we are called upon to be on our own, we seem powerless to overcome contrary inner influences, both conscious and subconscious. Often, after initial formation, one is left at the mercy of one’s own Hyde who takes the drivers seat. Therefore, the part of us that doesn’t want to be disciplined takes control of our behavior.

In other words, you don’t tell your boss at work, “No, I don’t think I’ll do what you want me to do. I think I’ll watch TV instead.” But if you’re your own boss, you’ll repeatedly come up with such resistance to your own directives to yourself. You’ll let yourself off the hook and say, “I’ll do it tomorrow.”


Because we’ve spent much of our lives being disciplined by others, we seldom develop the necessary skills to discipline ourselves. Again, self-discipline is like a muscle; it needs be developed and exercised in order to be strong, to be available when we need it. Unfortunately, as we age, certain
psychological roadblocksoccur that inhibit the development of self-discipline. You can’t develop the psychological qualities required for self-discipline until you’ve become aware of, and busted through these mental blocks.

 

 

face your fears

Self-discipline requires facing certain realities about ourselves that we’d just as soon ignore. For instance, you might be surprised to learn that various types of fears are our greatest roadblocks to self-discipline.

Fears create attitudes that produce such ailments as procrastination, poor time management skills, and task avoidance. There are, of course, all types of fears. And, yes, we all harbor some personal fears that affect our behavior in varying ways and degrees. But certain, specific, subconscious fears create roadblocks between us and self-discipline. This is an unavoidable reality that needs to be accepted by anyone trying to bust through the roadblocks.

Subconscious fears are deep-rooted inner reservations that we often hide from ourselves. They play a spoiler role in all areas our lives. Moreover, in order to root out these buried fears, we must dig like hyperactive gophers. Why? Because:

  • Facing our fears, either conscious or subconscious fears, creates anxiety. Anxiety is a powerful, uneasy feeling that we all try to avoid at any cost, including self-deception.
  • We’ve been conditioned to view fear as a form of weakness or inadequacy. We’d rather rationalize than say “I’m afraid.”
  • We associate fear with childishness. “Don’t be afraid, be a big boy.” “Chicken?” “I dare ya.” “Whatsa matter, Scaredicat, afraid?”
  • Most of us believe in our heart of hearts that if we avoid an unpleasant or difficult situation long enough it eventually will go away.

 

Until you become aware of certain subconscious fears, and accept them as a part of being human, you’ll never be able to establish consistent self-discipline. Subconscious fears will prevent you from transforming your ideas into actions. You can’t possibly do anything to relieve yourself of these fears if you don’t bring them into the light.

So, let’s forge ahead, learn the various faces of these pesky fears, and reduce their influences on our behavior. Notice that I didn’t say “rid ourselves of them.” I said, “reduce their influences on our behavior.” Again, fears are a part of being human. So, we need to accept them as a part of life. Only by recognizing and accepting them can we begin to minimize their immobilizing influence. While we won’t ever be completely free of all fears, we don’t have to be controlled by them. To paraphrase a famous quote: The worst thing we have to fear is fear itself.

 

Following are the most troublesome and common fears that block us from self-discipline. We all suffer them in various degrees. Get to know how each one operates. The more you know about them the better your chances are of minimizing their influence.

  1. vFear of Failure
  2. vFear of Success
  3. vFear of Rejection
  4. vFear of Mediocrity
  5. vFear of Risks

 

In the modules that follow, you will begin the practical part of the program . You will spend a few minutes a day learning to understand these critical roadblocks to self-discipline.

Over the next five days, you will learn about specific subconscious fears and about how each one acts to block self-discipline. Then you will do an exercise designed to give you a personal insight into how these blocks affect you.

Excercises

  1. 1.For introspection: Recall your infancy and identify the important moments when your self-discipline muscle got trained to pursue long term goals? Who were your principal role models and how did they train your will?
  2. 2. For reflection and prayer: Often God addresses the humans with a “Fear not” followed by an assurance of God’s action (I am with you”) Is: 41.10. Is it related to our deep down fears which come in the way of our journey to freedom? . Reflect how the second part of the statement (I am with you) act as the apt remedy for the first part (fear not). Have you noticed that when you are terribly frightened, the assuring presence of a loved person dissipates fear altogether. Christian fortitude is born of a profound sense of God’s presence even amidst dangers.

  3. 3.Home work to be sent: Answer the following questions:
    1. 1.What is self-discipline? What do you think we should work at when we want to improve self-discipline?
    2. 2.How do fears operate in weakening self-discipline? Which of these fears are more relevant to your life experience?