My fears are my early warning signals for what I need to master.
Curiosity found me counting the number of blogs (56) in which I wrote about some aspect of fear. As a faithful bi-weekly and then weekly blogger over the past two years, this number amounts to around one third of my total blog content. Given that transforming fear into peace, love and joy has been my personal and professional mission for as long as I can remember, fear fits well into those conversations. And here comes conversation 57.
Life has gifted us with an internal fear switch or instinctual reaction that we utilize to protect ourselves from life and death situations. It is typically referred to as our Flight-Fight survival response signaling us to either ‘leave the scene or stand our ground.’ However, if we encountered significant trauma in our past, this instinctive switch can become generalized as an automatic fear response to all situations presenting challenge or discomfort. In other words, what was once intended for discerning between life and death circumstances now operates for any situation that triggers our fear. When this occurs, fear has lost its teaching capacity and become our nemesis. We have fed fear too much attention giving it power over us. When we no longer master our fear but let it master us, we are headed for a break down.
In these circumstances, it is helpful to think of fear as F.E.A.R. an acronym for FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL.
Think of a situation in your own life where your F.E.A.R. blocked you from learning what you needed to move forward. Examples of fear-triggering situations might be:
• giving a presentation or speech
• going to university
• writing a test
• asking for help
• doing a hand stand or cart wheel
• moving to a foreign country
• dating or falling in love
• going to an event alone
• living alone
• travelling alone
Choose one of your current fears and imagine yourself attempting the challenge that triggers your fear. Keep imagining yourself in the situation and, as you feel the fear rising in your body, allow it to be present. Stay with feeling the fear rather than attempting to avoid or repel it. Can you feel where the fear is located in your body? If you can, take your awareness to that location and ask yourself – “What am I afraid of?” You may have to ask yourself this question four or five times in order to reach below the surface into the source of your fear.
For example, one of my fears is being poor. When I asked myself “Why are you afraid of being poor?” the answer that first emerged was, “I won’t have enough money/resources to do what I want.” To go deeper, I asked myself, “Why are you afraid of not having enough?” My next answer was, “Because I might not be good enough to build prosperity and abundance in my life.” Herein lies the source of my fear — not being good enough — which is triggered whenever I don’t have money in the bank.
Another example of F.E.A.R. emerged from a recent conversation with a friend. He discovered the Universal Law of Cause and Effect plays out for him as “where focus (attention) goes, energy (creation) flows. He realized he spent most of his life running a “continuous risk-management” reel in his head that kept him focused on avoiding what he did not want. What he now knows to be true is that regardless of whether we focus on negative or positive aspects of life, we create the focus of our attention. It’s a simple law but if it were easy to execute, it wouldn’t take us the better part of our lives to discover and create our mastery.
[Humans] often become what they believe themselves to be. If I
believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it.
But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it even if
I didn’t have it in the beginning. Mahatma Gandhi
What lies at the source of our F.E.A.R. is a limiting belief we hold about ourselves. In my case — ‘not being good enough’. Allow your story at the source of your fear to surface. Keep questioning your emerging answer (Why do I fear _____?) until you reach its source. Again, you may have to ask why five times because you are peeling back the layers of an unconscious pattern — one you may have held since infancy. If you are not satisfied you’ve reached the source of your fear, solicit a trusted friend to pose the questions to you. Be persistent, the answer may not emerge immediately, but it will arise — maybe later tonight, tomorrow or even next week. Keep reminding yourself, where your attention goes, the energy of creation flows.
Doing the work to develop self-mastery necessitates dedication and discipline. Its rewards are creation . . . innovation . . . fine artistry. The prose and haiku poem below broke through from just such dedication.
Being born with a great yearning for intimacy
caused me to fall down my own rabbit hole.
This birthing of adventure tore down internal walls
revealing ancient truths.
Discovering all knowledge is self-knowledge
crystallized my journey — to best friend myself.
With each falling-in-love moment, layers
peeled away to reveal an open-concept heart.
A haiku version —
adventure, ancient truths,
an open-concept heart.
Do you want to test out what it means to Fear Forward? Make today your F.E.A.R.-experiment day. Each time you encounter discomfort, ask yourself, “What am I afraid of in this situation?” I would love to hear the results of your experiment.