Fleeing Fear

Stop for just a minute and examine your life. How much of what you do is motivated by fear? You possibly think it's very little but I bet if you really examine your day to day life you might find more of it is than you perceived.

My friend is very honest about what she calls FOMO. Fear Of Missing Out. She admits that she hates being left out of things, even when she can totally see why she wasn't included. Mostly we talk about this fear in relation to social events but when I really examined my life I realised that much of what I did was driven by FOMO.

madmumof7 in Cyprus

Have you signed up to a fitness class, committee, project or even joined a friendship group for fear of missing out? I have, more than once. I've sat at the first meeting of working parties and committees or at events mentally kicking myself for being sucked in by some misplaced feeling that it's the right thing, the expected thing to do.

I had already been thinking about this, and re-evaluating the way I live my life then with perfect timing heard wise words from a vicar friend at the weekend who preached on fleeing. It's a funny word isn't it, fleeing?  We think of it as something  refugees do, that Elsa did, that criminals do.

My collared chum said we should try harder to flee the distractions of life that stop us living a more honest and spiritual existence. He warned against being busy, making money and doing all sorts of stuff for the wrong reasons. His words really resonated with me.

I have been really quite ill for a number of years now but it took a new diagnosis to show me I could not continue trying to please everybody but myself without it having a disastrous effect on my life. All these pictures of me smiling away, busy and bustling and in reality I'm mostly exhausted, in pain and desperate to lie down in a quiet room.

madmumof7 in field

Spiritual life aside (although that has suffered too) this was the final prompt I needed to persuade me I need to start living my life in a different way otherwise I will burn out mentally and physically.

So what's stopping me?

FEAR.

Will my friends drop me if I stop being that friend who is pretty much always available, always there to listen, to offer help, to be the driver, the organiser, the entertainment? Will I end up with no social life at all? Will my business fail If I don't work 7 days a week? Will people think badly of me if I drop that committee or responsibility or chore?

Well of course my real friends will understand and let's face it, the ones who don't aren't real friends. So my stats might drop a bit but I'm never going to be a top 10 blogger because I can't be arsed with fake pods, manipulating links or commenting on stuff I don't care about. I have decided I will spend more time being real with the people I love and who love me and less time keeping up appearances.

I look at this picture, taken when I visited one of my dearest friends in South Africa, and I know this is me, the real me. Both of us suffer with painful health conditions but we still laugh together til a bit of wee comes out. We expect nothing of each other but love and friendship - that's rare and I'm lucky to have it with other close friends too. You know who you are people - my yaya's. I use this picture because it really illustrates so well that this is the me I need and want to be.

madmumof7 with one of her best friends in South Africa

I am learning to say no, to ignore my phone when I'm trying to work or relax or to explain that I'm just not well enough to do stuff I've previously done. I'm happy to make myself available but it needs to be more on my terms. It's hard because I still feel guilty but if I'm to survive I need to flee the fear.

This doesn't mean I don't still care about my friends, work, commitments but I need to be more choosy about how I spend my time and energy. It sounds selfish but I need to be actually. I'll never turn away from someone genuinely in need or a project I feel I can really help with without doing too much damage to my health.

Already I have noticed a difference. I have had fewer panic attacks and palpitations and my autoimmune conditions are slightly more manageable and slightly less grim. I have been able to return to church, am regaining my desire to write for myself and make plans for fun times with my friends. I've even been able to wear jeans. (Baffled? Read my post about living with Lichen Sclerosis for the graphic details.)

So why not take time yourself to examine your motivation for the stuff you do and the people you hang with? Be honest about what you do that is motivated by FOMO, fear of not being popular, liked or included. Fear of losing status. Work out what it is that you really want from your life and if the fear, stress, guilt or anxiety is worth it. Then face your fears and make some changes in your life.

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