Today’s lesson is from “The Fear Book” by Cheri Huber
Some things we may not think of as fear
– anger, sadness, irritation, urgency, depression, control issues –
are pointing to an underlying fear. Resistance to doing something is one of the processes that masks fear.
Every time we choose “safety” we reinforce fear. We close down. We close off. And our lives shrink.
How to Address Fear
When we drop the idea that we’re supposed to be having a different experience and open to the experience we are actually having, we avoid nothing and we fear nothing because we are right here with ourselves.
Fear and Separateness are synonyms.
Fear of the unknown is actually the fear of your own imagination. Many of us see ourselves as victims of fear, as if fear is chasing us through life and we must elude it.
Let’s switch this around. Let’s become the hunters, and make fear the hunted.
Question Every Fear Thought. Learn to ask:
How do I know that? Is that unequivocally true? Who says so? I that my experience or is it a belief? It that happening now? Is that true NOW?
Learn to explore:
Being negative will not keep the things you don’t want to happen from happening.
If we are afraid of fear, we feed it, and it grows. If we leave fear to itself, if we give it no power, no energy, eventually it consumes itself.
Becoming a Mentor to Ourselves: If we can become for ourselves the mentor we always wished we had, everything in life becomes an exciting adventure. So the critical shift in consciousness in the healing relationship is away from judgment and self-hate and toward a place of compassion.
The childlike part of me who was shamed for not knowing things, for being awkward, or “doing things wrong” will be excited to have the encouragement and support to try new things.
If you are a small child or an animal that is frightened, what do you say? Do you say it’s OK, it’s all right, I am here, you are fine? You already know how you want to be supported and loved and cared for. You can provide that for yourself!
Once you establish the mentor relationship with yourself, it feels the way it should have felt in childhood. Once that mentoring process is in place, you could apply it to anything.
Make a list of your fears to overcome.
Build 2 columns
| What Fear (depression, anger, sadness, etc) says |
||| What the Mentor Tells You
With every fear thought that arises, take a few minutes to do this exercise.
The Process= Let’s say I’m terrified of dogs, and I’m going to be desensitized. First I would look at a dog and then gradually get close to it and eventually touch it and so on. But I’m also afraid of water. And Bridges. And heights. And …..
- The point is to acknowledge fear, because once we see how the process of fear works, it has a broad application.
- It’s not about dogs or heights or public speaking. It’s about the fear that motivates us and how we maintain it.
Do something you fear,
Not to conquer the fear,
Not to accomplish the task,
But to familiarize yourself with the processes fear uses to protect itself.
Never make a contest with conditioning. If a voice says “I can’t, I’m afraid,” the most helpful kind of responses is, “It’s all right to be afraid. I’m here with you. We’ll take it slowly. It’s ok”
How would I address fear? Let’s say I have a fear of heights. I hate to fly. First I learn to disidentify from the part of me who is afraid.
Until I disidentify from the part and move into the mentor role, I’m pretty much incapable of compassionate response. It’s important to note that, while I’m identified with the part of me who is afraid, I can’t address it.
It’s not like I’m walking over to a cliff and peering over. There aren’t any cliffs around. I’m afraid of my feelings. I’m afraid of fear.
Anxiety is the fear of fear, the dread of the experience I won’t be able to stand.
The next step is to make peace with how I’m feeling. Most of these feelings are unsettling: untrustworthy, embarrassing, inconvenient, even dangerous. So to make peace with your feelings, imagine that you’re simply going to co-exist with them. You don’t have to worry about them or control them; you don’t even have to take them personally (!!). All you have to do is let the feelings be, and, if you stay with it, before long you will…..just…be.
You watch your feelings. You’re the spectator. Remember you have disidentified from the one who’s afraid, and you are prepared to be a mentor, but for now you’re just watching.
- As strange as it might sound, WE DON’T HAVE TO TAKE OUR FEELINGS PERONSALLY.
It might be helpful to keep a journal of your investigations of your specific fear
The Adventures of John and the Ten-Story Building
And never take any of it personally. You’re doing this to bring the light of conscious awareness to the subject of fear. You’re going to demystify the whole subject of Fear. You’re going to learn to be the mentor you always wished for.
Perhaps, at the end of this fascinating journey, you will be relaxed and comfortable at any height.
The result is not the point. Compassionate awareness is the point!
You decide that you are going to the top of a 10 story building. It might take several stages before you actually go anywhere. Just sitting and thinking about it might be enough to bring up the fear. If so, start there.
You could set up a time each day to work with the fear. Just a few minutes might be enough at the beginning. Do this so that the fer doesn’t assault you every time you are not paying attention.
The procedure is the same each time. You take whatever step would bring up the fear. Perhaps now you drive to the building and sit in your car in the parking lot. Just be with whatever happens.
You’re watching, seeing ever more subtle levels, really hearing what the voices are saying, seeing the belief systems behind the voices, watching your emotions react to the voices, and feeling the sensations. It becomes so familiar you could map the whole process.
So you have become completely familiar with the whole process of fear, and yet the thought of standing looking over the edge of that building still starts the voices shrieking “I can’t”. That’s OK. We’re not trying to make it to the edge of the building. We’re finding out about the tyrant named fear.
- This is a spiritual process. When we catch this little beast, we’re not going to destroy it, we’re going to embrace it. We are going to love it into extinction.
Children afraid of dogs successfully lessened their fear by watching videos of kids their age with dogs.