Fear: The illusion of loss
When my two kids were little I used to take them to the candy store and let them pick out something for themselves. Miranda, the younger, would immediately find something that “was her favorite,” while Jennifer would agonize over her choice. Growing impatient, I would intervene. “Honey, what’s wrong?” She would respond with, “O Daddy, I can’t choose… I’m afraid I’ll make a mistake and choose the wrong treat!”
But aren’t many of us like that? I know I am. Don’t want to commit to anything just in case I make an error in judgment. So I procrastinate; I don’t want to “lose out.”
The fear of making a mistake stems from the fear of loss. It’s something that you and I live with every day. But let’s face it: We don’t worry about the next guy making a mistake and “losing out.” It’s really just a selfish concern, because the perspective we have of ourselves is very different from how we feel about other people.
We can usually see the bright side of a loss or tragedy as it happens to someone else, but not if it happens to us. When I lost my business, a house and my credit rating I couldn’t understand why no one else could see the devastation and feel as hopeless as I did. And how could they? They had a completely different take on it. Not being as close to it as I, my friends and family could afford to be objective – and somehow see the good in it all. I thought my world had come to an end; they knew it hadn’t. My “attachment” to the loss consumed me. Even though I can now see how my business and financial failure – in the grand scheme of things – was ultimately a good thing, it sure didn’t look that way at the time.
When our world comes crashing down around us, it’s natural to think that we failed, that we’re losers. If things don’t go the way we expected we say to ourselves “I lost” or “I failed.” However, our perspective is merely an illusion. Sure, stuff happens; and sometimes we make bad choices. But we haven’t ‘lost’ anything unless we declare it to be so.
If you think you are a failure, then you will fail; if you believe you are a loser, then you will lose. But ‘losing’ exists only in your mind. There are no winners or losers – or failures – in the natural order of things. Life always happens as it should. Winning is a judgment; so is losing. When you interpret a certain outcome as good, you feel like a winner. If you don’t get what you want you feel like a loser.
It’s our own mental construct that creates a universe where losing actually exists. And it’s fear that causes us to imagine failure and loss in a world of our own making. The fear of failure and the illusion of loss lead us down the path to suffering and defeat.
Tomorrow’s topic – Awareness and conscious choice