What’s Your Fretiverse?

by Andy Wood on March 13, 2020

in Ability, Five LV Laws, Hoarders, Life Currency, LV Alter-egos, LV Cycle, Principle of Freedom, Protecting Your Investment

What do you tend to worry about?

Tell me “nothing” and I won’t believe you.

Anyway, that’s my line.  For years I’ve told people, legitimately, that I’m not a worrier. I HATE fear. You can wake up any of my adult children at 3:00 in the morning (assuming they’re asleep) and say, “Complete this sentence: ‘We don’t make decisions…’”

They’ll reply, “based on fear,” roll over and go back to sleep.

We’ve hammered that into them, and I love to see them living that out in fearful times like these.

That said… well… true confession coming…

I do that sometimes.

Fret, that is.

Let’s not call it worry or anxiety… that’s for other people.

What I’ve realized recently is that I just worry about other things.

Three Fret Buckets

This idea is still in the oven, but try it out and see what bakes. What makes us different is not whether we get anxious or not. At some point we all do to some degree. What makes us unique is the focus of the fretting.

Imagine three buckets. You can live inside any of them.

Or maybe doors to three different rooms. Adjoining rooms like in a hotel.

Or maybe three different parallel universes and you have a way to leap from one to the next.

But you prefer the comfort of your own (pick your metaphor). Your own worry bucket. Your own panic room. Your own universe of anxiety.

I know! Let’s call it your fretiverse.

It took me about 37 years to figure this out, but my wife and I live in different panic rooms. And when our partner dials up the anxiety, we think they’re being a bit absurd. Ridiculous! And get this…we even start quoting Bible verses and stuff.

I know, right?

Would it help you to know what your anxiety bucket is? And maybe what your partner’s worry zone tends to be? Would it help you to know where your organization, your customer, your child tends to be when the fear finds a voice?

It has sure helped me understand my own, um, “stuff.” My wife’s as well. And I just got off a coaching call where we had all kinds of clarity around this idea.

Which One is Yours?

I could take you through the detailed Bible study, but let me just cut to the chase…

Many people live in the fretiverse of PAIN. Physical pain. Fear of disease. Fear of being robbed, being hurt, that kind of thing. They imagine an unsafe world where people can’t be trusted, good people get sick and die, and where seen and unseen forces can do us great harm. And left to their own devices, they worry.

Other people live in the fretiverse of POVERTY. They fear running out of resources. They fear not having enough to eat, not being able to pay their bills, or not being able to provide for their family. They imagine a needy world where there is never enough money and what resources they have will be taken away. And left to their own devices, they worry.

Still others live in the fretiverse of SHAME. They fear being humiliated or embarrassed. They’re best friend is the “impostor syndrome.” They fear rejection or the social consequences of failure. They imagine a rejecting world where nothing they do is ever smart enough, cool enough, pleasing enough. And left to their own devices, they worry.

When Opposites React

Would it surprise you to know that people who live in different fret buckets look at you and think you’re an idiot?

No more surprising than when you look at them and think, “You’re being absurd!”

Regardless of how you hollowed out your own familiar panic room, your universe of anxiety feels normal and natural. And – dare I say it? – it makes sense!

Other people? They’re just being ridiculous.

So my wife tends to live in the pain bucket. If you were to talk to her about it, you would see how it makes perfectly good sense that this is her worry point of reference. I certainly get it logically. But not emotionally. I don’t tend to live there. Except for that one time I got thrown out of a raft on a raging river and thought I was going to die. But I’ll save that for another time.

I tend to camp out in the poverty bucket. I get snared by thoughts of how I will provide, what the economy will do, what the resource or financial implications of things are. My wife gets that mentally. But it doesn’t rattle her one bit emotionally, and she thinks I need to learn to trust God to be my provider.

I have a client who is a brilliant businessman. He finds creative solutions to problems and thinks outside the box. But he finds it easy to slip into the shame bucket. He reminds himself of past disappointments and fears rejection, ridicule, or being irrelevant. While any of us could relate to that fear on some degree, it really captures his emotional imagination. And yet when it comes to the pain or poverty bucket, he’s largely unmoved.

Keep This in Mind

There are clear solutions for anxiety and a clear path out of the panic room. Your panic room. But I’m starting to think that the way out begins with knowing which fret bucket you’re in to start with. Maybe the way out of the pain universe is different than the way out of the poverty zone. Maybe not. More on that in the next post.

In the meantime, two things to keep in mind.

First, we’re all a mixed bag and a moving target. We can move in or out of any of these buckets with varying degrees of intensity. And sometimes for no apparent reason. Give yourself some grace. And for the love of all that is holy, have a little grace for the absurd people in your life (those people living in different panic rooms).

Second, there is no fear you have experienced that has not first been visited by the Lord Jesus Christ. He visited your panic room – your universe of fear – long before you ever did. And He still knows how to look dead into the face of terror and command, “Peace. Be still!”

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Martha J Orlando March 14, 2020 at 6:24 am

Andy, in these current days, your words couldn’t have come at a better time. Yes, we all have our anxious places, but we can pray and trust that the Lord will help us deal with those emotions and uncertainties.
Blessings to you and yours!

Shawn S. April 16, 2020 at 3:07 pm

Love this. Have always supposed that people vary by what affects them spiritually, mentally, and physically, but haven’t heard it communicated so well. Thank you, Dr. Wood!

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