I keep seeing that quote “Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real” being posted on social media and I’m being pushed to write about it. Not because it isn’t true with regard to a good number of our fears. Many things we fear are illusions and they fall away when we step forward to challenge them, but because many people who throw that saying around aren’t acknowledging how fear can be calling us to take action–that some fears do have a purpose in our lives.
Maybe I’m more practical or not as “advanced” or as “enlightened” as some of the people who repeat those sayings but for me the more helpful journey has been to develop a relationship with my fears–to know and understand how each one works rather than immediately dismissing each one as an illusion. That feeling in the pit of my stomach or the hairs standing up on the back of my neck is often be tied to the message “Look around something is not right.” And the fluttery feeling in my stomach that comes up into my throat often means, “I think I’m about to take a big leap forward.” Only when we develop a relationship with the different types of fear we experience can we understand when they have a message to protect us from real danger, are cautioning us that perhaps we are taking the wrong path or when they are directing us to take action now.
So how can we develop that relationship with our fears? Here are some steps to try.
1. Stir up the big pot of fear and discover what’s there. Write down what you are afraid of. That’s right—put it on paper! Then write down what fear is under the first fear: “If that happens, I am then afraid . . . Follow the fears down “the rabbit hole” and see what is under each one.
An example might be: I’m afraid that I’m going to lose my job. I won’t be able to pay my bills. I’ll lose my house. I’ll end up homeless. I won’t be able to take care of my family. I’ll die because I won’t have health insurance! It will prove how unworthy I am. (You get the idea!)
You might think, “Why write it all down?” The truth is this has been swirling through your mind in a free floating way so you might as well get it out of you an on paper where you can begin to look at it.
2. Acknowledge all those fears. Imagine the higher part of you can say, “Wow that is scary stuff, isn’t it?” There is a part of you that is like the child who had a nightmare. Many of us judge ourselves for feeling fear. What if we just accepted that fear is part of the human experience? Yes to our spirits, most of what we fear isn’t really important. But to our human self, it is exactly what we are experiencing in the moment. We can’t shift it through denial. We shift through being willing to acknowledge and examine our fears.
3. Ask: What do these fears want me to do? In From Scared to Sacred, The Voice told me to look at fear as a messenger and then discern whether it is bringing helpful or unhelpful messages. What would the fear of losing your job be asking you to do? Spend less and pay off some bills? Look for another job? Start a business to start bringing in supplemental income? See if there is something you can do to be of more value in your job? Fear activates the human animal in three ways, fight, flight or freeze. When we feel fear we want to look at and determine what action is fear asking me to do and is that in alignment with the best action for my life? If you are truly seeing the handwriting on the wall about a company getting ready to do layoffs—ignoring it and calling it an illusion will not serve you, what will help is taking some positive action.
4. Ask what would my most loving self have me do with this fear for my highest good and the good of all those around me? We need this check because our human self may tell us that the best thing to do is to pull the covers over our head and ignore going head to head with fear. It may convince us that running away from having a conversation is the best thing to do, when deep inside we know that the highest thing is to have that conversation and get things on the table. Instead of thinking that fear is an illusion, perhaps it is more helpful to think that fear is a “real” experience but that we want to make our choices out of the higher experience of love.
5. Ask for help. Many times we get caught in a pattern of fear and we can’t talk ourselves out of it. We aren’t supposed to go it alone. Talk with a trusted friend or counselor. Ask your spirit guides or that highest power of the Universe as you see it to help you see your way through the fear to help you see it differently so you know what to do or how to have the courage to move in spite of feeling fear.
5. Practice and Repeat. As we practice acknowledging and moving through our fears, we build our personal courage. We begin to understand how fear works in our lives. We become wise not because we will never have fear again, but because we know we have a choice each time fear comes up to notice what it is telling us and choose what is in the highest good for all.
What do you think? How does this viewpoint or discussion relate to your view of fear? Does it help you? What do you do when you are fearful?