My Friends FO & AA

Have you ever wondered what is the essence of each day? What does each day bring to us? What is there to achieve each new day? I am not talking about the daily schedules and to do lists, but the flavour of the day; is it about embracing a Fear Of (FO), or an AA (Anxiety/Anxious About). Think about it, isn’t being alive all about the rollercoaster ride that we experience each day? What is this rollercoaster ride about, our fears and anxieties, for being in the present moment is an interesting and inspiring, as well as motivational theory, but as long as we have memories stored in some space surrounding us, we will be nudged every now and then giving rise to an FO or then an AA. Some FOs may last a few days, weeks, months, or years, just as is the case with AAs. Well, the longer they last, the deeper the impact, the more the harm done to the physical body, the more antagonist is the mind-intellect-ego triplets. To look at it from another perspective, the longer the FO or AA lasts, the more the triplets’ villain up against the being, the deeper the wounds, the more the pain to the body.

So, its simple, face the daily drama of the FO, or AA and let the bubble burst before its time for the next one to come up. To deal with an FO or AA, you need to know what is fear and what is anxiety. Through my years practising Psychotherapy, I found that most clients were not even aware that there is a difference between fears and anxieties. They thought they were different words, meaning the same. They thought both fear and anxiety are synonyms. They are not synonyms in essence, but cousins for sure.

According to the American Psychological Association’s ‘Dictionary of Psychology’, Fear is explained to be, “a basic, intense emotion aroused by the detection of imminent threat, involving an immediate alarm reaction that mobilizes the organism by triggering a set of physiological changes. These include rapid heartbeat, redirection of blood flow away from the periphery toward the gut, tensing muscles, and a general mobilization of the organism to take action.” 

In the same dictionary anxiety is explained to be, “an emotion characterized by apprehension and somatic symptoms of tension in which an individual anticipates impending danger, catastrophe, or misfortune. The body often mobilizes itself to meet the perceived threat: muscles become tense, breathing is faster, and the heart beats more rapidly…Anxiety is considered a future-oriented, long-acting response broadly focussed on a diffuse threat, whereas fear is an appropriate, present-oriented, and short-lived response to a clearly identifiable and specific threat…Some theorists characterize this distinction more particularly, proposing that fear is experienced when avoiding or escaping an averse stimuli and that anxiety is experienced when entering a potentially dangerous situation.”

These defined distinctions between fear and anxiety helped me help my clients help themselves. It also helps me deal with my self better, for awareness leads to wisdom, and ignorance is the complacent place for fools to rest. 

It is as simple as this: if I know firstly if my body is bringing to my awareness an FO or AA, I then know how to deal with it. As the saying goes, a known devil is better than an unknown one. And known devil hidden beneath layers of denial or ignorance only grows in size and destroys a lot. Who wants to be a victim of multiplied FOs and AAs, when we can tackle them day-to-day, as they occur, and lead an empowered life.

So, do you have to make any effort to deal with the FO or AA? No, only you need to do is be aware of what FO or AA is disturbing the peace within, and allowing the crazy triplets to run amok, then either “distract it away” or “non-violently fight it away” or “breathe it away.” If you give it too much attention it magnifies itself and, there goes a pretty good day. If it magnifies further then it happily pours itself into days, weeks, months, years or even lifetimes taking the mammoth form of phobia.

So, the point being face you FO and AA, before they become issues so deep-rooted that you need clinical help. Even if they are already deep-rooted, get help to help you help yourself manage the demons, so that they vanish into oblivion. 

Being visited by fears or anxieties, whether they are fleeting guests, or they overstay; does not imply being weak, it definitely reminds you that you are alive, breathing and you have something productive to do, going beyond drowning in the fear or anxiety. 

Interestingly, I find many using the acronym FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), as fashionable trait. “I had FOMO last night, while you guys partied.” “Oh gosh, when I leave for the vacation I am going to have serious FOMO while you’ll are right here enjoying the card parties.” “My little one makes a big fuss before sleeping simply because of his FOMO.”

Yes, FOMO sounds so cool! But it really is not as cool, and should not be used a frivolously.

While I am not a big fan of the theory of being in present moment, all the time, since I know it is not possible, as there is a past, there is a future, there are actions and reactions; for lie is a series of equations that may add up, or subtract, to multiply, and divide. Remaining in the equal is being marooned in the middle of nowhere, doing nothing. Imagine if there was no horizon beyond every horizon; no valleys below the mountains, no oceans between the land. The adventures of the past, with the impending voyages of the future comprises the landscape of our life in this body.

The swinging and dipping, the highs and lows, the movement is all about surfing upon the tides of fears and anxieties. For the pendulum of life swings between the past and the future, hanging from the thread of the present where there is stillness. 

The nature of life is constant movement. Stagnant waters breed disease, and spreading of viruses through mosquitoes. It is fresh flowing water that is home to the most beautiful marine life. Such is life, the constant movement, adjustments, challenges, opportunities brings much excitement with the breath, whereas monotony, stagnation, complaining mind set only brings dis-ease to the body caused by the idle, free-moving mind-intellect-ego trinity.

So, every morning I greet my triplets – mind-intellect-ego, and ask them what is in store for me today, is it and FO or an AA. It is easier to deal with an FO, and a little tougher dealing with any AA. This is because the FO is based on a nudge from the past, but the AA arises out of the mindless illusions of the future.

So, it’s easier to deal with an FODI, which spells out to be the Fear of Dressing Inappropriately. This is one of my biggest fears, especially since the peri-menopause phase arrived. This I am aware is triggered all the more because I am neither menstruating like I was, nor am I entirely menopausal. I am in between. This for me is part of the midlife crisis – is dressing young inappropriate, or dressing maturely like those in their fifties and sixties, who are a major part of the husband’s side is appropriate. I dealt with FODI, almost every day, succumbing to it by spending almost an hour deciding what to wear, even if I was just at home, spending the day in front of my laptop. Ridiculous! This had to stop!

So, I addressed it headon. So, “FODI my friend, why do you come and distract me everyday, making me motionless all for an hour thinking and re-thinking my attire? I need to actually get rid of you. I can understand you drop by once in a way to keep me in my tracks, but overstaying like this. No thank you!”

FODI had a simple reply, “Ever since you became a wife to the husband, you kind of lost your ability to identify with you own self. You hold the husband and all others in such high-esteem that you only wish to dress for their approval and validation. Dress for yourself, and I have no purpose being here. Stop bothering about what others think. Stop undermining your own personality, thinking that all others around you dress better, look better. You look as beautiful as you are when you wear your smile confidently, no matter what the outfit.” Makes sense, FODI. Thank you!

And from that day on, FODI comes by at times, to help me dress appropriately for a function, event, etc., and not to impress others. I dress to my comfort, which is my confidence. FODI is not my pal in need.

So, the big famous FOMO is something I feel is pretty overrated, considering that when you choose to stay back at home and miss the party, you cannot be entertaining FOMO, you are actually being host to FONMY – the Fear OF Nobody Missing You. So hauled up at home, your mind, intellect, ego will keep wondering what is happening around? Does anyone miss you? Are they having so much more fun without you? So, really this is all about FONMY, which I confess nudges me every now and then, especially when the husband wants to leave the party early so that he can get his handsome sleep. 

Oh here is another one that nudges me every now and then – FOBA – the Fear Of Being Alone. So, when I see people living alone, and I read about people having nobody by their bedside when they died; FOBA knocks me over, and with it AALLO – Anxiety About Losing Loved Ones – comes and nestles its self, entertaining the triad. What a mess! But, you know what shoos them away, calling up those who I have not spoken to in a while, emailing old friends, or simply making a plan to spend a fun evening with the husband. Every one is going to drop off the tracks, one-by-one, including me, and if AALLO visits, its only to remind me that I am not making the most of the time we have together; be it with friends or family. 

Another one that knocks on my mental and emotional door is AALED – Anxiety About Letting Everyone Down. Actually, AALED may not always be about everybody, but somebody, or a few somebodies that does not add to the sum total of everybody. But then, AALED likes to be addressed as AALED, as he claims he’s all about letting down other/s. 

While for most of my life I pretended to ignore AALED, by storing him at the back of my mind while I performed my duties and responsibilities; I realized I had to deal with him, once and for all, so that I can make my everyday even more purpose-full for myself, beyond the realm of always carrying the burden of pleasing others. So, I asked AALED, “What keeps you here so long, in spite of the fact that I do serve everyone well?”

AALED explained, “That is where the problem lies. You toil to please everyone, but look at yourself, are you so pleased with where you have reached, all that you have achieved, the person you are? Or is your identity based on the validation of others. You are starved for your own loving attention, while you shower it all upon others. You have to become aware of your own purpose and mission. All are an extension of you. Serve them, but serve yourself first.”

I understand things better, when I can put it into perspective. “So, what you are saying is that I give you shelter in order to keep myself performing my duties for others. However, what I do for others with you nestled at the back of my mental and emotional minds, is not actually service to others, but slavery to others. Therefore, by the end of it all I feel tired and overburdened, and I feel they are all too dependent on me. I feel that I am living their karma, along with mine. Their guilt and regrets are part of my own script, only because I have housed you in my mental background. Alright, so now I wish that you leave and I empower myself to enjoy my responsibilities without wearing their shoes.”

As a parting shot AALED revealed to me, “Serve all compassionately, empathetically. I will have no purpose here. Remember compassion and empathy comes from the empty space of the being where wisdom, Shakti and happiness dwell. Operate out of that space. In case you are blindfolded by the overpowering guilt and regret of another, I will drop by to uncover the blindfold and take you back to that space of empathy and compassion.

Actually, AALED does not visit me that often as I immerse myself into the feel good space before I carry out my duties and responsibilities serving all.

Various members of FO and AA come by to visit me every now and then. I cast my awareness upon them, especially when they tend to penetrate into my body, and converse with them, respectfully asking them the purpose of their visit. Once I know, then I have a choice of either acting upon it, or giving into laziness and letting them penetrate deeper, affecting my physical body and the threesome; or do I keep them at the back of the emotional and mental space, so that they can bring destruction to my physical body over time.

By the way, being creative with your FO and AA, helps you befriend them; and friends don’t harm you. Ignore them and they play enemy pretty nastily!