Read the News Late

by Rick Hamlin

Fear sells.

It’s worth remembering when you pick up the newspaper and gaze at the headlines or scroll down an article on a news site or hear the drumbeat of the upcoming news story on TV.  It always sounds terrible and they want you to know it’s terrible.  A tremor goes through you.  You know for sure that the world is gone to hell in a hand-basket.  You thought only minutes before how could things get any worse and now here’s a story to let you know.  Things ARE worse.

Whoever wrote that piece or produced that segment or came up with one of those headlines knew just what they were doing.  They wanted you to be upset.  They hoped you’d be outraged.  They wanted you to tremble.

They hooked you with fear.  Let’s face it.  If it didn’t hit your gut, if it didn’t disturb you, if it didn’t make you want to go bury some cash under a mattress for that rainy day that was much closer than you thought, that tempest, then why would you read on or listen for more?  You want to do the right thing and be informed and if the government is going to fold on Monday or the stock market is going to crash again on Tuesday or the war is going to start on Friday, you need to know.

Read the News LateBut what are you going to do about the war or the government or the stock market for that matter?

I suppose you could write a letter to your Congressman and sell off what little stock you had, but then what are you going to do?  Buy Treasury bills that are backed by a government that is supposedly failing?  Put more cash under the mattress that would supposedly be worthless in a few years because of rampant inflation?

The options are few.  And you have just successfully wasted a few pleasant hours by being truly riled up.  It’s worth considering that somebody got you afraid for their own personal benefit, not really for yours.  It’s like a kid sticking out a foot at a playground and tripping you.  “Got you,” they should say.  Unless you refuse to fall for it.  Again.

I’m a sucker for the news.  I like to be informed.  But I’ve grown wary and weary of the story tellers trying to manipulate me.  I forgive them for doing it because they’re just doing their jobs.  They need as many eyeballs as they can find to stay in business.  I’m glad for them to stay in business because they help me keep informed.  But I’ve given up the fear as much as possible.

The angels of the Lord made it their greeting, “Be not afraid.”  I try to pay attention to the angels of my own best nature.  And I try to choose the times of day when I give the fear mongers my eyeballs.  Not too much in the morning.  I could end up wasting my day.  Better late in the day.

Why buy fear wholesale?  I’d rather spend my emotional capital elsewhere.

Rick Hamlin is the executive editor of Guideposts magazine, where he has worked for more than 25 years. His spiritual memoir, Finding God on the A Train, was a Book of the Month Club alternate selection and a selection of One Spirit Book Club. He lives with his family in New York City.


Is That Your Fear Talking?

Contrary to what you may have been taught, you’re not at the mercy of a dangerous world or your own negative self-talk. In fact, you can change your mind to see yourself—and the world—with a whole new perspective.

The first step is to become aware of thoughts that are based in fear. This takes practice, because they sometimes look and sound different than you might think.

Here are three common fear-based thoughts. When you hear yourself saying these statements to yourself or someone else, you can be sure your fear-based ego is doing the talking.

Is That Your Fear Talking

“What if I make a mistake?”

Just think of all the ways this ego thought impacts you. It could keep you from experiencing the most significant aspects of life: falling in love, having a family, starting a business, booking a trip, buying a house—even something as simple as ordering a menu item you’ve never had before.

If you give your power to this one thought, you can end up completely paralyzed.

The fear of making a mistake may disguise itself in different ways. For instance, it may look like the fear of being judged by others (or yourself).

It could be the fear of looking silly or being ashamed.

Or it could look like conformity to a family code that has always governed your behavior, maybe without your knowing it.

The truth is, we all make “mistakes” and take detours. Sometimes we have to regroup and chart a new course. And sometimes we find ourselves in a delicious new place that we wouldn’t have discovered if we had listened to our fear.

As you go through your day today, become aware any time this fear gets in your way, then ask yourself: “What would my life look like if I weren’t afraid of making a mistake?

What if I disappoint someone?

True story: I married my first husband out of a lot of fear—fear of being alone, of not being able to support myself, and of disappointing him.

This was not a good idea.

“What if I disappoint someone?” can cause chronic unhappiness by making us think we’re being noble or dependable…but at the cost of our own joy. It can mire us in “shoulds” and convince us that everyone else’s feelings are more important than our own.

The ego does this to make itself feel important and indispensable, but the truth is that you’re important and indispensable by being the unique and genuine child of God that you are, not by trying to please everyone around you.

Pay attention through the day and see if some form of “What if I disappoint someone?” shows up in your mind. If so, remember that you have the right to focus on what brings you joy—and do it even if it’s not what others might want or expect.

Remember: This is not a selfish act. In fact, it’s the most generous thing you can do. The more joy you have, the more you have to give

“I feel so guilty.”

There are LOTS of variations on this theme, including regret (“If only I could do it over again”) and beating yourself up over something from the past (“What was I thinking?”).

These feelings and thoughts are part of being human, of course. But mistakes aren’t meant to be lifelong burdens. If you allow your mind to go round and round, revisiting the same guilt feelings or regrets about the past, you’ll completely miss the gifts of life right now.

As you go through the day today, become aware any time your thoughts linger in guilt or regret.

Then ask yourself, “Is there anything I need to apologize for or any amends I need to make?” If so, take at least one step toward doing so today.

Equally important, be open to the idea that you may be carrying guilt over past mistakes that no longer matter to anyone else, or that you’ve long since been forgiven for. Be aware that the primary person who needs to forgive you is you.

Debra Landwehr Engle is the author of The Only Little Prayer You Need and the forthcoming Let Your Spirit Guides Speak (Hampton Roads, September 2016). She is also a workshop facilitator, and regular blogger at Patheos. She is also a longtime teacher of A Course in Miracles and a widely traveled inspirational speaker. She lives in Des Moines, IA.

Deb Engle's Books

The Only Little Prayer You Need | Let Your Spirit Guides Speak

In the Beginning Was Fear

An essay by Daniele Bolelli

In the beginning was fear—the fear that everything that has a body experiences once it realizes we live in a predatory universe; a universe in which absolutely everything gets to be eaten… if not by the sharp fangs of a predator, then by time itself. And Fear became our God. And it began to rule over our lives, shrink our willingness to dare, and rob us of the beauty of it all.

In the Beginning Was FearFear is written in the deepest layer of our DNA. You can’t run away from it. You can’t escape it. It’s so pervasive that plenty of people try to exorcise the demon. Religions, philosophies, advertisements, motivational speakers… They all tell you if you make the jump and follow their cure, you’ll no longer have anything to fear. They tell you that there are no monsters hiding under your bed. They promise you safety from everything you fear. They promise you a sense of empowerment. They promise you victory against all odds.

The reality is that they are trying to sell you something.

The monster is indeed under your bed, after all. The reality is that you have every good reason to be afraid, because everything you fear is on your tracks right now, and will eventually catch up to you and destroy everything you loved and everything you are.

Welcome to the world, motherfuckers.

So, why “not afraid?” Wouldn’t it be more appropriate?

“Scared shitless and rightfully so?”

Because being scared doesn’t help you. Reality is uglier and harsher than anything we like to admit to ourselves, and yet it’s pointless to be scared since your fear will not protect you. Fear is only useful if it alerts you of a danger you can avoid, but if there’s no possible way to avoid it, if it’s inevitable that it’ll crush you no matter how hard you fight, then what’s the point of being afraid? If you have no hope of survival, what’s left to be afraid of?

The only thing you’ll succeed in doing is in spoiling this very second when the forces that will destroy you haven’t stepped onto the stage yet.

Yes, you will not get out of here alive. But so what? All the more reason to celebrate right here and right now. Let’s pop the champagne before all hell breaks loose. Squeeze every last ounce of orgasmic ecstasy from the present moment. And when the monster finally climbs out from under your bed, at least you’ll have a good reason to smile before he devours you. You are already dead. Let’s have a party in the meantime.

Daniele Bolelli is a writer and college professor. He has also fought professionally in mixed martial arts and appeared in I Am Bruce Lee (2012). He is a frequent guest on The Joe Rogan Experience, The Adam Carolla Show, and The Duncan Trussell Family Hour. His own podcast The Drunken Taoist is regularly rated among the most downloaded worldwide in the “philosophy” category of iTunes.

Daniele’s Books

Daniele Bolelli's Books

Not Afraid | Create Your Own Religion