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.

Let’s look at 3 different situations:

  1. A prowler in your house, which could be life-threatening
  2. A physical activity you have not only chosen but paid a lot of money to do
  3. An emotional experience you have dreamed of and wished for. 

The psychological responses are very similar in each case, but how we think and feel about the situation – where it’s acceptable or not – determines whether we label the experience “fear.” 

In the case of potential romance, we might call the experience “excited anticipation”;   on the ski slope, if could be “exhilaration or thrill”.  Hearing a prowler could be terror.  

These sensations will often generate the same physiological conditions.   However, they actually don’t mean that you should do anything at all.       They don’t mean anything at all.  

In fact, they might not even be true.   In fact, nothing has happened to us that we did not survive.  

All of our experiences only have the label that WE decide to put on them.   We can actively decide their meeting.  Or passively allow labels to form.  There is no 3rd option.   And your brain WILL do it for you. 

The Fear of Fear shrinks our World. 

The Emptiness of Fear

Much of what we call fear is Thought.

Many people report that, in the moment of situations where you are truly threatened, there is no fear.  The whole experience arises in a quick moment – there’s turning the wheel of the car, there’s stepping on the brake – but there is no experience of someone having the conscious thought of fear. 

Fear comes afterward – when you stop to think. 

What most of us think of as fear is primarily a mental process of imagining situations that do not exist in the moment.  All of our experiences only have the label that WE decide to put on them.   We can actively decide their meeting.  Or passively allow labels to form.  There is no 3rd option.   And your brain WILL do it for you. 

Where Fear Comes From

Conditioning:  Children don’t know that there is anything to be afraid of.  In the process of being socialized, that was destroyed.  We were taught to leave ourselves and focus on others, and we were warned and conditioned and threatened into near paralysis. 

We grew to feel inadequate and insecure and anxious, and by projecting that only our own children…..we pass along the fear.

The underlying fear behind social embarrassment is really that other people are more important than you are.

We were given the assumption that fear is what keeps us safe.  In fact, intelligence is what keeps us safe. 

Think of a child who wants to learn to ride a bike.  He can’t get the simple information he needs without big doses of other stuff:

How they are not doing it right

or what could happen if they do it wrong.  

All of this comes at the child in a way that is hard to grasp, except for the message “there is something to be afraid of.”

After receiving so much of that kind of information, a child simply won’t try new things that bring up those feelings – it’s just too scary. 

When dealing with others, and children, notice how commonly the information is passed on with an attitude of disdain, with the implication of someone’s inadequacy, in a tone of voice that says “What’s the matter with you that you didn’t know that?”  

Student and Guide: Fear of Failure

Student:  Here’s one.  I sit down and work and fear comes up.  “What if it’s no good?  What if I can’t do it?”

Guide:  Well, let’s suppose you sat down to work and I walked up and  said “What if that’s no good?  What if you can’t do it?”

Student:  Hmm, I think I’d wonder why you were saying that.   I think it would make me mad.  Who do you think you are, questioning my ability?

Guide:  Okay.  If someone “outside” of you expresses a belief in your inadequacy, it would make you question their motivation; it would make you angry that would even think such a thing.  But if someone “inside”you expresses the same belief in your inadequacy, you go to what you call fear. 

Even if you are not successful with what you’re working on, do you believe the result will be humiliation?  Will you suffer rejection?  Will you wind up on the street living out of a shopping cart?  Will you not survive?  What is going on?

And that’s the “Fear” that rules our lives.   Someone says something that implies something is going to happen to me in some future time and place, my body is filled with sensations, and I’m conditioned to believe that means

Something about who I am,

That I should do something,

That I should not do something,

That “there is something wrong and I’m in big trouble.” 

That’s a lot of being jerked around by one little voice asking one little question.  But if we never examine it closely enough to see that it’s a conditioned voice programmed to ask anxiety-producing questions, we would remain convinced that it’s a the voice of God threatening us with imminent destruction. 

Spirituality, it is essential to understand that there is nothing in fear that is helping us.