The How Are You, Really, Checkup
Symptoms: You're plagued by uncertainty over just about everything.
Cause: Fear and its ugly sisters, anger and guilt.
Remedy: Uncover the source of your fear.
There's an old myth that Eskimos have a hundred words for snow. By that logic, we could use as many synonyms for fear. If we dig deep enough, we can often find some variant of that emotion.
In his three-day Equine Experience class at Arizona's Miraval resort, Wyatt Webb's students get to know and trust a horse—and perhaps more challenging, get the animal to trust them. "The horse is an emotional mirror," he says. If you're unclear in your intentions, "the horse will feel the tightness in your body and won't cooperate." Clients gain insight into how their mental uncertainty arises from fear and how that affects them physically. "Most of us are cut off from our bodies," Webb says. "We don't usually listen to them until we're in massive pain." Those not in proximity to a stable need to listen on their own. "One of the things I do, because I've been conditioned to respond to my fear by getting angry," he writes in his book, "is to start with my anger and trace it backward."
Fear seems to be about the future—what might happen—but it's frequently based on something in your past. Mira Kirshenbaum believes people freeze up because of long-ago traumas or immature mistakes. Sometimes the most loving thing we can do for ourselves is to tune out our own soap opera. "You can stop making such a big deal of the fact that your mother was mean to you or the fact that the one person you really loved walked out on you ten years ago," she writes.
Kirshenbaum sounds like a Nike ad when it comes to dealing with paralysis. "Nothing destroys emotional energy like a backlog of unmade decisions," she says. "Make any choice. It doesn't have to be the biggest decision weighing on you. Decide what you're going to eat tonight. Then decide whether you're going to buy that shirt or not. Then decide about your future." In other words, just do it.
Condition #3: Freaked-Out