Unleash the F.O.E.S. Within!

Today’s post comes from Trail Baboon’s Living and Loving correspondent and a man who is a bottomless well of wellness – B. Marty Barry.

Greetings to all my friends struggling against the disappointments that life sometimes brings us – but especially to those 21 select attendees whose feet were burned at a “fire walking” event by motivational speaker Tony Robbins in California last week.

Thousands got charged up by Robbins’ talk inside the convention center, and some then went to a park outside where twelve beds of hot coals had been set up and stoked to more than a thousand degrees to test their individual power, focus and resolve!

Finding the nerve to make your feet go where your brain says “OH MY GOD NO DON’T DO THAT!” is a key step in the “Unleash the Power Within” process that has made Robbins rich.

To quote Robbins’ website, the fire walk is a way to “discover how to break the unconscious fears that are holding you back. Once you start doing the impossible (or at least what you thought was impossible), you can conquer the other fires of your life with ease.”

Many successful participants say the fire walk is a “powerful moment” that helps them transform their lives.

Some academics say successful fire walking is a matter of physics, not attitude.

But for those 21 who were treated for burns and the 3 who went to the hospital, unfortunately no choice remains now but to be completely and forever ruled by those very same unconscious fears that they hoped Tony Robbins would banish.

I just want those people to know that living a fear-based life built around the expectation of failure is certainly no picnic, but it is possible to go on. Many, many people are guided by fear and still manage to lead productive lives. In fact, I have many clients who suffer from Fear Of Everything Syndrome, or F.O.E.S.

F.O.E.S. is not a clinically recognized condition. I made it up one day after I attended a Tony Robbins seminar and he convinced me that I was being held back by my reliance on other people to decide what maladies I’m allowed to treat. Once I started talking to my clients about F.O.E.S., many of them identified with it immediately. I didn’t even have to write a detailed explanation of symptoms – as soon as I said “Fear of Everything Syndrome”, they said “I’ve got that.”

Fear can be good and constructive and useful. It can preserve foot health, for one thing. Supremely confident Wall Street traders and investment bankers might have benefitted from an extra dose of fear back before the housing bubble burst. And fearful people also manage to achieve great things even though they are too frightened to get out in front and lead the parade. You’ve heard of being in the right place at the right time? Sometimes that right place is behind the crowd and the right time is after everyone has moved on!

Some of the world’s most accomplished people are terrified inside. We won’t name any names because they’d probably sue us for defamation – another instance where fear of losing all my money is probably a good thing – but next time you watch a rock star perform on TV or read about a sports star making millions or listen to a politician or pundit opine, imagine that they are not as confident as they seem and that their brains are really just a quivering mass of intimidated Jello.

It will make you feel better about yourself. At least you’re not facing the possibility of some steep losses in personal injury lawsuits, like Tony Robbins!

And remember, even though you may be a total loser and I’ve never, ever met you, I still care about you very, very much.

Only B. Marty Barry would see a case of almost four dozen smoldering feet as an opportunity to drum up some business. Perhaps he’s on to something, though. Promoting Fear Of Everything as a guiding principle to transform your life has probably not been tried before.

When has fear been a good thing for you?

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60 thoughts on “Unleash the F.O.E.S. Within!”

  1. i have a fear of acquiring too much tony robbins positive thinking material. i go to those rah rah meetings and i get fired up and can be talked into doing things i would otherwise not be thinkng about at all. i have tapes and cds and books on how to do it better and do it in an organized fashion and do it in a way that will be the right way as far as the person on the other end of the motivational talk is concerned. tony has been around for a long time and as a 19 year old wonder boy i got a kick out of his schtick. his insight into how each of us is messed up in our own special way is an interesting way to go through life. if you are in the business of helping messed up people you can either try to empathize and gently nudge them toward the decision making process that will help them to help themselves or you can do it the tony robbins way. jam it down the throat and if it doesnt take then that means you didnt want to change enough. the thousands of people at the meeting all had the same fire walk and the handful of grandmothers and whiney babies who let third degree burns get in the way of the transformations ahead get what they deserve. an early exit form the event and no money back after they signed off on the form that stated they would certainly be at risk of burning themselves while walking across 2000 degree coals. i have spent my life dealing with the fear that pops up on a regular basis in this world.the thought that giving in to the fact that scary stuff could kick your butt is a bit hard for me. its like duh… no fooling…. if i think about how much life could possibly be screwed up if it all went wrong i could feel nervous and not want to go forward. thats a little like eating a handfull of jalapeno peppers and being concerned i will feel feel a little heartburn that will bother me. i have a fear of fear if anything. if i stop to deal with it in an extended way i will realize i could be in for it. deciding to respond by getting on with what i want to get on with rather than focusing on all the stuff that could keep me form doing that is the only way for me. in the words of monty python. run away run away

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        1. steve are you switching back and forth between one word press identity and another. that raises hell with you gravitar more than anything else i have found.

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  2. Fear probably kept me from being more assertive in the work world, which is why I am still a little worker bee and not higher up the chain (or running my own business or…). On the other hand, I have found that I like being able to leave work at work for the most part, which I might not be able to do so easily if I were more than a worker bee. Fear also kept me from marrying when I was in my 20s – at least twice thought I was sooooooo in love. Had I married either of the gentlemen in question, I would have, no doubt, wound up in divorce court. Fear kept me from taking the plunge – fear of commitment, fear of making a bad choice, fear of letting someone else truly and fully into my world. When I found Husband one of the tipping points of, “yeah, this is the guy,” was knowing that I was still afraid, but that I didn’t care – that I would work through the fear because I could trust him to be gentle with my fears.

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    1. I think I am also one one of those, like you Anna, who has held back and remained a worker bee instead of pushing forward. However, the way some people push themselves forward seems wrong. I probably should have done more to push myself forward, but at least I tried to be a person who doesn’t take advantage of others to make advances. I particularly dislike people who will tell you that it is okay run over other people to get ahead.

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        1. Drone? I don’t see you in that role, Clyde. I’m sure you wouldn’t fit in with them. They wouldn’t want a person all the interests that you have in their group.

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        2. I found that it is not so much that I had to walk over people, it was that I had to put myself forth more aggressively than I was willing because that aggressiveness implied a greater believe in myself and less belief in others than I was comfortable with. I have a brother-in-law who, while very bright and educated, is very dense about his behavior impacts others. I am so uncomfortable with that sort of pushiness in myself and in others; being that way wore me down after awhile.

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        3. i disagree, you needed a front man to deal with the public. you are the visionary brainy geek who needs to be allowed to brew up the magic potions that make everything work, then you need a believer to go and fight for whats right.thats different form being a drone.

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      1. I’m with you on that, “do whatever you need to do to get ahead, including run over others” thing Jim. Also was not willing to work 50-60 hour weeks early in my so-called career. There was a certain amount of, “I can’t do that – I don’t know how,” fear that was plain foolish and held me back, but just not the forge-ahead-guns-a-blazing-then-jump-off-a-cliff-to-get-what-I-want kinda gal.

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  3. Good morning. I have a fear of being mislead by people like Tony Robbins. How could anyone think that somehow they could walk on fire because Tony Robbins said they could? How could Tony Robbins set people up to walk on fire and then let them do it? It wouldn’t be fear that would prevent me from walking on those hot coals, it would be common sense. It is common sense that usually keeps me from being mislead by people like Tony Robbins. If I ever thought that someone like Tony Robbins might be giving me good advice, it would be my fear that he could be misleading me that would keep me from following his advice.

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  4. Last year when we were at Pine Ridge, my husband and our Arikara band member friend Bruce, were going to have a sweat at a sweat lodge Bruce used occasionally when he was in the area. Bruce changed his mind when he saw signs and symbols that local heyokas, or sacred clowns, had taken over the sweat lodge area. Bruce said it wouldn’t be safe for them to use the sweat lodge under these circumstances, since the local heyokas were acting in very malevolent ways. He believed that the heyokas had conjured up a severe storm at the Baptist mission a couple of days before we arrived, a storm so powerful it had snapped three inch steel tent poles in half on a tent the mission director was going to use for services. The whole situation was pretty creepy and my husband agreed that this would not be the time for a sweat.

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    1. It would be hard for me to believe that the local heyokas could conjure up a storm, but I think I would also stay away from them like you did, Renee.

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    2. A friend of mine attended a sweat held on the Lower Brule rez. My friend, a college educated white guy, swears he heard the wings whistling when the giant eagle responded to the request that it come down.

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  5. Morning all. I’m happy to be home after 9 days – quite a hoot last night to read 8 trails in a row without stopping. You all were certainly on a roll last week!

    I saw a Mythbusters episode about walking on coals and seems to me that it’s more about how you walk and not about super focus or Tony Robbin’s mind tricks.

    I can’t think of a time when fear has been a good thing for me, although I’m sure there have been plenty of times. Mostly I can think up times when I’ve overcome my fear (hot air balloon in Kenya) and it’s turned out spectacularly!

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  6. One of my closest friends, a 62-year old divorced guy named Greg, recently shared that he’s working on his bucket list. He’s had a fear of heights, so he decided that the way to “cure” this was to go sky-diving just one time about a month ago. He took the lesson, decided to go solo rather than tandem, and when he landed on the runway, shattered his left leg in four places. He reports having conquered his fear of heights, but now he’s living in constant fear that he’ll fall while using crutches for the next three months.

    I honestly have a significant fear of Bachmannbots (used to be Palinbots). If only I could stay away from the Strib Politics or Opinion boards or skip following every cable news channel, I wouldn’t even be aware that such humans exist. My fear is that the right wing has the potential to metasticize like a cancer, promulgating more bots by the day and leave decent, rational folks living in McCarthyism. I guess the bottom line is that hate-filled people scare me. I often refer to them as “children of the dark”, but the truth is that scared, angry people are ever so much more motivated to organize and intimidate the masses than people who are sensible and open-minded.

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  7. Fear of real things, like fire, snakes, or animals with big teeth, can be very useful indeed; the irrational fears, not so much. I’m pretty sure that the fears that hold most people back are the fear of failure, of rejection, or what others might say or think about them. Those are fears that we should work to overcome. But fear can also be a great motivator, I know it has been for me at times, but I don’t think it is wise to use fear to motivate others.

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      1. Well, actually knowledge is preferable to fear when dealing with snakes. There’s no need to fear them, but it’s best to avoid them if you can’t tell the difference between a venomous and a non-venomous ones.

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        1. Wouldn’t an “edit” option be wonderful on WP? So many times, a fraction of a second after I have pressed “Post comment” I spot the error. Oh well.

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      2. If I’m outside and a snake darts out from under neath me, I have a completely irrational reaction. I know it’s irrational and am fine after I pass through that nanosecond of fear. No amount of rationality will ever change that, or a walk on hot or cold coals.

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        1. i love that kind of rush. it hits me and i always breaking out laughing like a little boy because it is so unexpected. i love the simple purity of the adrenalin.

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  8. Three notes on books, mostly OT
    1. I mentioned above the book on E. B. White. “The Story of Charlotte’s Web.” I will be finishing it soon and will not wanting to keep it. I will be glad to mail it onto someone.
    2. Just read, from the library, the book “Chronicles in Stone” by Ismail Kadare. It is a fictionalized account of his childhood growing up in an Albanian town during WWII. He sees everything as alive, the streets, the water in the cistern, the stones, the planes. The city keeps changing hands from the Italians to the Greeks to the partisans to the Germans. The people are wonderful, superstitious, backward, resilient. The child sees terrible things and takes it all in. Amazing what people live through. Some sentences are brilliant. Sort of “Hope and Glory” set in Albania, but much less innocent. You might want to try it. Kadare, BTW, has led quite a life.
    3. Those of you who have copies of my novel, I do ask you to dump the files I sent. I am trashing it all out right now. Thanks.

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    1. Thanks for the book recommendation, Clyde.

      Please don’t trash your novel. I haven’t had a chance to read the entire novel. I am sure from the small parts I have read that I would very much enjoy reading all of it.

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    2. Sorry. Did not explain this well. My daughter got back midnight last night from having 30 kids at the national ELCA youth gathering in New Orleans. (With four other adults.) She thought she had a broken collarbone, but it is just a bad contusion. From carrying a heavy backpack full of all the paperwork she had to carry plus other stuff. Repetitive motion issue. She will be sore for a long time they are telling her but it does not restrict her from training, just not carrying a backpack.She called me right as I was writing that. Then called back. Sick boy for us to go take care of
      Any way, I just meant to say for those who have the files, to be sure to dump them when you are done with them, or any printed version. Thanks.

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    3. I’m interested in #1. I enjoy biographies of authors and Charlotte’s Web is such a good book. But if someone else wants it, that’s okay – it’s not like I have a shortage of books to read around here. You can email me @ gmail to get my mailing address. If you know my first name and birthday, you’ve got my email… edith 210 (no spaces, then @gmail).

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      1. Edith – I borrowed the E.B. White book from the library – if you’re a fan of E.B. White or any of his books, it’s well worth the time to read. “Charming” is the word that comes to mind.

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  9. Greetings! Fear has held me back in many areas — mainly my stutter of long ago was detrimental in many ways, emotionally, socially and financially.

    Confession time — we went to a Tony Robbins UPW event and walked on HOT coals. After watching them light the fires, we went inside to get psyched up for a few hours. In the dark they were glowing red and white hot when we came back out. Thousands of people have crossed them safely, as did Jim. After my stroll across I ended up with several blisters on my right foot. That foot took the first step. I could feel the burning heat, but it wasn’t so bad, so I knew it was OK. My feet were really sore afterwards, so I went to the first aid station, and I was not alone. Unfortunately, I took it as a total failure on my part, which was overreacting.

    I know Tony Robbins is a controversial personality, but when you see him in person he is one of the most amazing, magnetic and charismatic people on the planet. He gives, and gives and gives at his seminars until he nearly collapses. Yes, they’re outrageously expensive and it takes serious work on yourself to get the results. Yes, some of it is questionable but quite a bit of it makes sense. I still have some mixed feelings about him because his magnetism can overpower your own thinking. But he is genuine in many ways. He’s just such a powerful salesman, the first instinct is to mistrust him at some level. In closing, FOE is unhealthy — natural, instinctual fears are necessary.

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    1. FYI — I only needed a little first aid. I was on my feet the next day and had no problems. It is part technique but also the right mindset. Mythbusters only used cardboard. UPW events use wood which burns hotter and holds heat longer. You can call them mind tricks, but our brains are capable of so much more than we are aware.

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    2. Joanne, I for one, don’t discredit Anthony Robbins. He is not where he is today by being a fake. He is a bit extreme to my liking, but I understand completely why he’s so successful in motivating people. Many years ago, I used his Neurolinguistic Programming without much success, but as expensive as his seminars are, people would not keep going back if they didn’t learn something. I do admit to being turned off by his infomercials, but you certainly can’t argue with his success.

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    3. Joanne, husband was (is) a stutterer (as is his older brother), but because he has so successfully learned to work around it, most people never realize it. But I know what an obstacle it has been for him. When the movie “The King’s Speech” came out he refused to go see it in a theater setting; he was afraid it would be too emotional for him. I went by myself, and then convinced him that he would be OK, and we went together, but it speaks to the deep seated pain that lingers long after stuttering itself has been an issue for him. I would have never guessed that stuttering has been an issue for you.

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    4. I guess I shouldn’t be so quick to assume that Anthony Robbins does not offer something of value. In fact, there often isn’t any way to prove that a person like Anthony Robbins is being misleading. The part about having people walk on coals makes me think that Anthony Robbins is misleading people, but I don’t have any proof. I always assume it is better no to go for something that doesn’t make sense to me. It certainly is possible that what doesn’t make sense to me actually does work and it would work for me if I tried it.

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      1. jim you remind me of bill clinton. one of my favorite things about him is that he has a point of view and he is sincere about it then someone comes along and starts him down a different path and a different point of view and he changes his view to the new informed view as it is today. i tend to be defensive about my misinformed status and want to defend it. you are open to truth. bless you.

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  10. I’ll bet I speak for all baboons when I say your posts here show remarkable courage, Joanne. You remind us that people like Tony Robbins are complex and unique, and I must plead guilty to dismissing him as a kind of charlatan without giving the matter much thought. I do wish people like Robbins could use their astonishing charisma to do more good than he does. Thanks for speaking up the way you did. And when it comes to “speaking up,” I’m inclined to think you have overcome the stutter.

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    1. If all you knew of Tony Robbins was from his infomercials and the news media he might generate, that is a perfectly understandable conclusion. After attending 2 of his seminars, I see that he has a powerful and deep understanding of the human animal at all levels — conscious, subconscious, mental, physical, spiritual, social, physical and psychological. He does have a large Foundation for charity. I believe his focus is to help develop people to their highest potential, develop leaders and empower them to follow their highest purpose and CONTRIBUTE. While you could say he doesn’t make a significant contribution to better the world, his followers ARE inspired to do so.

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  11. You said physical twice… But I walked over hot coals like Joanne and suffered no injury at all. I think my focus was right at the time. I was sceptical before we went, and in a bad frame of mind. Somehow I had a changeof Mind.

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  12. Good Evening.
    Made it safely to Laurel Mississippi and had a quick visit before checking into the hotel. Long drive today from St. Louis and we all kinda crashed at the room.

    Fear. A healthy respect for farm machinery, power tools, chainsaws and heights has saved me on more occasions than I care to remember. “Hey Guys! Watch this!” has killed more people than we know.
    If I’d known that when I was 14 I’d be able to tap dance with both feet. But you know, then I would just have had to learn fear from something else. (And I’ve always been amazed with spinning things. The blades in the blender for example. I should be able to put my finger in the middle while that’s spinning if I do it….very…. carefully…. like…. this………………
    I have no desire to walk on hot coals either.

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