Selective Hearing, Avoidance, and Fear

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What scares you?

It’s almost Halloween…a good time to think about what scares you in life and in relationships.

And you thought I was going to talk about ghosting. Been there, done that. Tired of that topic. Let’s ghost ghosting.

We’ve talked about fear before but I’d like to probe how fear changes behavior. And while we’re talking, let’s eat some aubergine (eggplant) lasagna – much better for you than candy.

Have you ever been talking to your significant other/partner and heard or observed something unsettling but didn’t want to address it directly because you were afraid of the resulting discussion? Perhaps the topic raised a question and you were afraid of the answer. Instead of communicating, you entered into a fear-based behavior: avoidance. It’s related to selective hearing.

Just like a child can selectively NOT hear a parent telling her to stop watching TV and do homework, I know there have been times when I did not “hear” what a man said because I knew it would make me angry and I didn’t want to be angry at that moment or I suspected it would force me to deal with an issue I did not want to deal with.

So, I tuned out and pretended I never heard that, or he didn’t say it.

It’s easy to bury anger or confusion when the real emotion is fear: fear of what might happen if there is a real conversation. You wonder whether you’ll be hurt emotionally or if the relationship will be irreparably damaged. Perhaps you fear an unsettling truth that will be impossible to swallow.

You know the end to this story…eventually you have to address whatever it is. It might be examined in an open discussion or you might address it by leaving the relationship without fully probing the issue(s).

I’d like to make a case for being fully in the moment…ditching that selective hearing and dealing with the issue or comment immediately: head on, feet first (and whatever other clichés apply). I’m not talking about something minor that you can let slide. It’s the bigger issues that need to be addressed in a timely fashion.

Soapbox suggestion: Cultivate awareness. Be present in the moment. That way when you hear something that needs to be dealt with you can immediately tamp down fear and tackle that difficult issue.

So step away from that cell phone, look your man in the eye, and face whatever it is.

Let me know what happens.

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Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

Conquering Fear

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For the past 6 weeks I’ve been working on a long-time fear of deep water by taking swimming lessons. I didn’t always have this fear and swam with ease as a child. I’m not sure why I slowly developed water nervousness – perhaps it is related to infrequent swimming or the vertigo I encountered after being knocked over in the ocean. Or it may have been triggered by the unpleasant experience of shopping for a bathing suit in stores with fun-house type mirrors.

Whatever the reason for this fear, I felt it was finally time to do something about it so I could swim laps when on vacation and in my neighborhood pool.

Let’s talk about fear in swimming and in life – especially romance – while sampling polenta crisps with avocado and yogurt . We talked about fear before but it’s a topic worth revisiting.

To lose the fear of a physical activity, you have to trust your body to know what to do.   When you overcome that fear, you experience a special satisfaction and appreciation of the activity – even if you haven’t totally won the battle yet.

It was a victory when I swam the length of the Olympic size pool without having a mild panic attack. To keep my state of calm, I thought about what my swimming teacher said, “You’re swimming on top of the water…it doesn’t matter how deep it is.”

Gazing down into the deeper part of the pool, I remembered the joy of underwater swimming as a child and relaxed.  I’m not as comfortable as a fish yet but I’m working on it.

Fighting fear is a worthy quest and there are many opportunities for battle. You might not be up for conquering all your fears at the same time and that is okay. Do what you can.

As an observer of marriage, divorce, and the single life, I see many examples of fear: unhappy couples afraid to divorce, divorced individuals afraid to date, people in relationships afraid to ask for what they want.

There is one fear that can help you conquer relationship-related fears. That is fear of missing out. If you fear missing out on happiness more than you fear the breakup of a bad marriage, you might be prompted to make a move. If you fear not being coupled – even if you are happy in the single life – you may work harder to find a mate.

Life is more complicated than a single emotion but I think you can use fear to your advantage.

Try it. What are you afraid of? Can you harness the power of fear to make your life better?

For an interesting read on fear, check out this Psychology Today article.

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Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia