Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tripping to the Caribbean

I like nonsense; it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life's realities. Dr. Seuss

I had to laugh at myself. There I was all set to tackle one of life's big choices -- what to wear -- and I had the wrong date. The function I was anticipating is next week, not this week.

Whew. There's a decision that doesn't have to be made today.

"Avoidance strengthens fear." Dr. Liane J. Leedom

Seriously. It's been scientifically proven. Avoidance actually does strengthen fear. It creates a bio-chemical reaction in the brain that strengthens our fear of doing whatever it is we fear doing. That's why, when you avoid doing something you need to do that you are nervous about doing -- like paying taxes -- you get a sensation of relief when you put it off for another day. Then, the next time you go to do it, a little critter in your brain wakes-up and says, 'No. Wait. Remember last time? You didn't do it and you felt better? Don't do it again and you'll feel even better.' And so, you put it off and momentarily get the chemically induced high of not doing it and feeling better. And every time you avoid doing it, the chemical high increases and so the story of avoidance continues.

I'm good at avoidance... because I like to 'feel better' about not doing things I need to do!

Seriously. Procrastination only feels good in the moment because in the moment, the monkey brain is whispering to us to keep doing what feels so good, even when we know, in the long run, it will feel so bad we'll wish we had done whatever we've been avoiding sooner. As we avoid doing it, the energy required to do it increases because our level of fear of doing it increases with each time we avoid doing it. That must be where we convert the 'pain threshold' to our pleasure syndrome -- hurts so bad it feels so good.

I have been avoiding booking a holiday to Barbados. I know. I know. Sounds ridiculous. But it's true. My fear level is elevated because I have these weird tapes inside of me that say -- don't make plans to travel because something always goes wrong.

It stems back to childhood experiences when I made early conclusions about travelling. We travelled a great deal when I was a child -- and it was seldom pleasant. My father would rant and rave. We'd set out for a destination and somewhere along the way, plans would change. He'd become upset about something that did or didn't go his way and we'd turn around and go home before we ever got to where we were going. My mother would cry and we'd sit mute for fear that our tears and disappointment would only exacerbate the situation. (okay, so exacerbate is not a child's word - it's my word and the thing about this particular 'fear' is -- it's based on childhood conclusions, not adult reality.)

Now, don't get me wrong. We had fun on our trips too -- but I can't remember one where my father didn't lose his temper and my mother didn't cry. So mixed up in all the fun and good times are these sensations and 'beliefs' about travelling that are not founded on reality today, but rather the past. And the past does not exist, except in my mind and on the odd photo that has survived those days way back when.

Hence, my hesitation (read that avoidance) of making travel plans.

And so, on the weekend, I bit the bullet. I booked my flights to Barbados in October. Two weeks at a private residence to bask in the sun and lush tropical colours of 'The Islands' while being catered to by staff at the friends' home where I'll be staying.

Which, when you look at the reality of my trip, makes you wonder why I'd avoid organizing it!

And that's the thing about my fear. Because it is head based and non-reality specific, it trips me up when I want to be tripping around the world! Not because it makes sense. It doesn't. But then, fear often doesn't make sense because some fears can be based on the utter nonsense we tell ourselves.

See, fear is rooted in the past, but it is future focused. I don't fear booking the tickets. I fear what I think -- consciously and unconsciously -- might happen if I plan a trip. My past is negative fortune telling what might happen in the future. And, because my subconscious mind wants to protect me and keep me from feeling the disappointment and angst of those childhood memories, it filters my thinking through the past into the future without stopping in this moment to ask -- Does this serve me well today?

I've booked my flights. I've put in my vacation request. I'm letting go of fear and embracing the idea of two weeks in the Caribbean sunshine experiencing all that life has to offer in that moment.

I'm laughing at myself -- I mean really, imagine being afraid of booking a trip to Barbados! I'm not giving the nonsense any more of my two cents! I'm flipping the telescope and celebrating the fact -- I booked my trip! Yeah for me. I overcame avoidance and got a sweet deal on my flights and have something to look forward to come the fall.

In the meantime, I'm off to live this day without fearing what might happen. I know, I am competent and capable of handling whatever life serves up. I am a WoW (woman of worth). I have the resources and resilience to manage life's ups and downs, and the courage to tackle any fear.

As composer, Benjamin Zander would say, "How fascinating!"

Have a wonderful, adventure-filled today. May your road be filled with opportunities for you to shine your brightest as you live it up in the lightness of now.


Billy Coffey said...

You're going to have a great time, Louise. I'm envious!

Brandi said...

Yay, double joy, a trip AND doing something you were putting off!!
Good for you girl :)

Joyce Wycoff said...

What a lovely reward for conquering your fear ... two weeks of sun and sand. It was fun to see my favorite Seuss quote again. You deserve your respite in sweet October.

Maureen said...

And leave all electronics at home when you go.

You are WoW!

Thank you too for the appearance at Kathy's today. The sharing of your experience can mean so much to someone.

Hugs. said...

OMG. You are me. Seriously. I'm almost always terrified to book a flight -- for any number of foolish reasons that make no sense whatsoever. Plus I live in a family FULL of procrastinators.

But I thought you might like the quote for today in Offerings, my book of Buddhist sayings -- "Usually we think brave people have no fear. The truth is that they are intimate with fear." (from Pema Chodron)

Congratulations on your bravery -- and OH BOY ARE YOU GONNA HAVE A BALL!

M.L. Gallagher said...

Thanks everyone -- and it will be a BALL!

And Diane-- thank you! LOL -- it's always good to know.... I'm not the only one.

and I love the quote -- feels good!

S. Etole said...

That quote about fear is a keeper .... how very true. "What time I am afraid, I will trust in Him," is one of my life quotes about fear.

n. davis rosback said...

sounds better than grape harvest.

katdish said...

Dang! You just reminded me I have to make reservations for a conference I really want to go to, I just keep procrastinating...