As a Belgian national and a global citizen, it feels awkward to post this on the day after such horrendous events have taken place in Brussels. My heart truly goes out to the victims and their families. It is the most recent in a string of terror events that have touched the hearts of so many on this planet, and what makes it so sad is that this is a fear I had hoped would never come through. My only words at this moment can be to hope that we can continue to see love instead of fear, and that if anything at all, we live our lives to the fullest and do not let our lives be ruled by fear.
And with that, here is the post that I wrote just a couple of days ago for today…. xx Naomi
Fear and I have a love-hate relationship.
Actually, it might be a bit more than that. Fear and I go hand in hand. We’ve become highly acquainted over the many years that we’ve been together.
Our Facebook relationship status would at the very least say “It’s complicated”.
Fear shows up all over the place. We meet at work, in my personal life, at my yoga class, and even in my sleep sometimes. Sometimes it’s this little annoying thing in the background, sometimes fear hits me like a ton of bricks.
I don’t like the fear feeling. It’s icky, it makes me nervous and jitterish, it doesn’t help me think straight and my rational brain goes out the window.
What makes it a slightly better feeling is knowing that I’m not alone in this. Here’s the thing, we all carry fear with us. And while I won’t pretend I’ve got it all covered or that I know all the answers, I’m just sharing some of what I’ve learned along the way in the hopes that it will be useful to you as well.
What is fear really?
Firstly, you clearly need to differentiate between real fear and the fear that we create in our minds, or false fear.
When triggered, fear creates a myriad of physical responses, otherwise also known as the ‘fight or flight’ response. All of these responses are super helpful when your life is in acute danger and can help save your life. Fear will either propel you into attack mode or make you run like hell. Particularly useful when you’re getting up close and personal with let’s say a tiger or any other being capable of prematurely ending your life.
But here’s the catch. Through our amazing creativity and our thinking, we can also trigger that same fear response when our lives are in fact not in danger, but when we perceive emotional danger through our thoughts.
Worry and anxiety about dying, sickness, financial lack, others’ perceptions of us, failure, work, status, etc. – a whole array of issues that can keep us up at night and send our bodies and our minds into upheaval.
Yes, that’s right. We create our own fears.
And the most annoying thing is that most of the time, what we worry about never happens.
Somehow we have a built in mechanism that focuses our minds on the worst-case scenario, and that’s the only narrow road we can see.
So here’s the thing. If we can view fear from a different perspective, from a benevolent point of view, we can alter our relationship to fear. We can change our experience of it. We can learn to listen, truly listen, to what it is trying to tell you.
Fear is just another emotion, like any other. Yes, it can be unpleasant, to say the least. But it’s not going to kill you, and what you’re scared of is most likely not going to kill you either.
Fear can point you in the direction of your pain. And while it’s sometimes the last place we want to go, it’s also often the most important place we need to go.
Trying to suppress your fear, wishing it gone, attacking it with a silent treatment will not work. The only thing fear will do is fight back, and fight back hard. In comes a gripping, tightening fear that grabs hold of you, never wanting to let go. What we suppress, will come back harder. When we can open ourselves up to something, it becomes softer.
So say YES. Say YES to fear.
You are here. I hear you. I feel you. What do you want? What is it that you are so loudly asking me to pay attention to?
What it needs is a soft and gentle touch. A compassionate, deep and respectful listening to what it is really trying to tell you.
What is really behind your fear? Why are you really so scared? What needs your attention?
Have a deeper conversation with fear and ask what this is really about. Because it will be able to point you to where the actual solution really lies, to what really needs to happen. Fear can alert us to what needs our attention and care.
We need to get closer to it. To learn to quietly listen and examine.
I’ve borrowed some questions from Gabrielle Bernstein that I thought might be useful to you to get a little closer to your fear:
- What experiences trigger my fear?
- What thoughts trigger my fear?
- What are the feelings that come over me when I am in fear?
- How does fear affect my behavior?
Have a go and see what you discover. And then ask yourself:
What is my fear pointing to? What needs my attention? Where may I be stuck?
So how do you even do that when your head is in a tailspin?
Whatever you do, don’t listen to fear. Don’t abide by its rules. Listen to it, but don’t do as it says. And if you are finding yourself in that tailspin, try to bring in the relaxation response, the direct opposite of the ‘fight or flight’ response induced by fear, first. This can include breathing exercises and meditation, something I’ve talked about before in On the other side of fear, the land of possibility and growth. What the relaxation response effectively does is allow you to start thinking “straight” again, to tap into that inner voice of wisdom that knows what needs to happen, and is supportive and wise. And who by far is your best guide.
We just need to be able to hear it.
Sending my love as always, hoping that this was useful to you. Please feel free to share with others – you can use the share buttons below!
And of course, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment with your thoughts on the blog. How does fear show up for you and how do you deal with it? What is your fear pointing you to?
Always makes me happy to hear from you!
Ps: you can now also read my post on Bloglovin’