Put It Down – Part 3

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Painful childhood events are among the things we can understand people taking, well, personally. But events like World War II, the Great Depression and other such things can similarly leave a lifelong mark.

“When I was a boy, two or three days a week during the spring and summer months I rode my bike down the hill from where we lived and did yard work for an elderly couple…” (photo is not of me, by the way)

When I was a boy, two or three days a week during the spring and summer months I rode my bike down the hill from where we lived and did yard work for an elderly couple; the Carlson’s.

Oscar and Agnes Carlson immigrated to America from Sweden during the Great Depression. The scarcity of the 1930’s made a deep impact on the couple. While Agnes was not a hoarder, she definitely made it clear that we must not waste. Through her, the economy of the 1930’s made an impact on me! To this day, I’m a pretty dedicated consumer of leftovers.

My overarching point here is that we need to take the time to look inward and ask some liberating questions. We need to think back in time to any and all events that may have constituted moments in our own life when we may have perhaps cursed ourselves with unhealthy vows that we had no business making. It is important for us to do an occasional inventory – sometimes seeking the input of others is helpful in this regard – in order to unearth junk that we have been unwittingly carrying around.

In Part 1, we ended after outlining some questions that constitute a tool that will help blast through all kinds of obstacles. I referred to one more powerful question.

Add this question to your arsenal: What am I afraid of?

Without getting too analytical, list the things in this life that trigger fear. Agnes might say, “I’m afraid of not having enough!” What about you? If it’s fear of getting hurt after trusting, write that down. If you believe you are afraid of failure, write it down. Some people are afraid of massive success. If that’s you, write it down.

Once you write down your fear(s), it is now literally outside of yourself. You can look at it and ask about five more questions, all comprised of one word: Why? At some point in this Five Why? process, you may start questioning the efficacy of the fear. And that is the point of doing this exercise.

Iconic photo from the Depression — The scarcity of the 1930’s made a deep impact upon people. Namely, it made them fearful of scarcity.

Using Agnes as an example, it might go something like this:

Why # 1) Why am I afraid of not having enough?

Answer: Because we didn’t have much during the Depression.

Why #2) Why does the Depression affect my thinking today?

Answer: Because those tough times could happen again.

Why #3) Why do I think that possibility is a reason to be afraid?

Answer: Because [and this is where she might start doubting whether having this fear is really necessary any more], well, I guess I have always been afraid of not having enough.

Why #4) Why do I think this particular fear actually serves any useful purpose in my life?

Answer: I am not 100% sure it has.

Why #5) Why not think about deciding that I will suspend being afraid of not having enough at least until there is a good reason for it?

Answer: That’s worth considering!

In previous posts, we have discussed the benefits of asking and answering quality questions. The point of these Five Why’s for Facing Fears is to call into question the usefulness of our fears by literally questioning them. Any tool that helps get rid of our fears is useful indeed.

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