Wisdom Workout


Scared Silly

By Susan McNeal Velasquez

When I was a teenager living in New York, my friend Nancy and I used to take the bus to the movies on Saturday afternoons. Our destination was the Saint George Theatre, one of the huge, beautiful movie theatres that were typical back then. We would get our popcorn and climb the sweeping, red-carpeted stairway up to the balcony. Horror movies were our favorite.

This particular Saturday, the new movie, “The House On Haunted Hill” was playing. I remember getting so scared that I put my two hands over my eyes to keep from seeing what was happening on the screen. On the way home, I asked Nancy what had happened during the parts when I was hiding. Apparently, she had no idea because she had her eyes closed, too.

This leads me to a question for you. Are you currently approaching some part of your life like it is a horror film? Are you obsessed with a problem and are also unwilling to look at it or deal with it because it seems way too scary?

It could be that a relationship has turned mean and ugly and you feel helpless to change it. Maybe it is your health, your weight gain or loss, or your eating and drinking habits that have taken over and are jeopardizing the quality of your life.

Perhaps it is your child whose behavior has turned monstrous, or your work situation that has become uncontrollable and threatens to destroy both your health and your sanity.

Could it be that you have your own version of a haunted house that is controlling your thought processes? At odd hours of the day or night, do the ghosts of the past run though the hallways of your mind, screeching and wailing, or rattling chains of disastrous threats that freeze your ability to manage your own life?

Even though I have just skimmed the surface of the areas that may be keeping you awake at night, when immobilizing fear takes over, the cure is the same, no matter what the problem.

Nancy and I appeared to be fully participating in the experience of the movie that was playing. The truth, however, was that we both only chose to see the parts we liked and blocked out the parts we didn’t like. We didn’t see the whole picture, but that didn’t stop us from telling everyone that we did.

It would have been useless to tell us not to go to a horror movie unless we were prepared to keep our eyes open the whole time. We wanted to be in control of the amount of the experience we let in.

The way to move out of any horror movie that has been thrust upon you, or is of your own making, is to do the best you can with what you’ve got at the time. That’s it.

No mystical, magical answer, except one. Give up your attachment to your illusion that there is the perfect way of handling life’s problems. Give up the erroneous notion that you are finally going to find the one, perfect solution, and then all pain and suffering will be a thing of the past.

Take your medicine in small doses. Pay your prices. Reap your rewards. Suffer the consequences of bad decisions but don’t become “long-suffering.” Take small steps that are honestly manageable, and above all, put the hammer you continuously beat yourself with down.

When your reactive mind is running the show, its notion of who and how you are supposed to be is always either grossly inflated or pitifully collapsed.

Turn your eyes away from the horror movie and settle down. Come back home. Take one positive step forward. Just one. When it feels right, take another step. Cover your eyes in-between if you need to and then, when you feel secure enough, make another choice and take another step.

Continue walking on the road to real. Soon your misplaced obsession with having to be perfect will release you back into the land of ordinary living, where it is enough to be reasonably safe and secure, or at least sane.


Looking for self-help? Susan’s book, “Beyond Intellect: Journey Into the Wisdom of Your Intuitive Mind,” is available at Laguna Beach Books. www.susanvelasquez.com 


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