Fear can motivate us into action or it can cause us to withdraw from the world and paralyse us from moving forwards. However it doesn’t have to be viewed as the enemy or something we must suppress. Fear is often serving our best interests, acting as a protection mechanism so that we don’t place ourselves in harms way. If we understand this then we can make peace with our fears instead of waging war against them.
Drowning off the Coast of Pompei
One of the fears I’ve held since childhood is being surrounded by deep water with no dry land in site. When I was around 11 years of age I almost drowned off the coast of Pompei, Italy during a school trip abroad. These mischievous waves pulled me and my friend further out to sea, and amidst the panic I grabbed my friends foot (a strong swimmer) unknowingly taking her under the water with me (note to self: do not grab anothers foot whilst drowning!) After a mouthful of salty water our teacher kindly rescued us but the memory of this experience became ingrained within my subconscious as most traumatic events are.
Emotions that are trapped result in Fear
Carl Jung referred to the fears of the subconscious as shadow. Shadow can be understood as emotions that lay dormant or imprisoned within us. These emotions seek refuge and yet wish more than anything to be released out into the open. The resulting fear will seek out expression in some form of physical outlet such as aggression, sex, aches, pains, illness or a particular chronic condition. Zhineng Qigong a Healing Art and Science believes that all illness (unless genetic or influenced by the environment) can be traced back to a self-defeating thought within our Consciousness. This in turn leads to energetic blockages which result in a physical manifestation of illness.
Self-imposed suffering and mental torment can be far more potent than physical suffering. Both are intrinsically linked. Therefore it is Consciousness that is the sovereign of all, shaping every aspect of our lives. If a person doesn’t cultivate and nourish well-being within their mind it will infiltrate into all areas of their lives. Similarly if we don’t give ourselves permission to face our fears they will come to dictate all our decisions in life. In some native wisdom teachings it is believed that if a person doesn’t deal with their fears or shortcomings they are passed onto their children. My mother also holds the same fear towards water.
Main aspects our fears take root in:
- Childhood – Beliefs we took on as children from our parents, siblings, caretakers, and events. This emotional pain and trapped trauma are common in many of us and will dictate some of the most stubborn belief systems we operate by in our adults lives.
- Past – Most peoples fears stem from some event, person, or feeling that arose in the past.
- Future – Fearing what might come to pass is a favourite pastime for many.
- Borrowed – Fears that others knowingly and unknowingly gift us with. Some will feel it is their duty to hand you their fears (how kind of them)
- Material – Believing happiness will arise with material gain and elevated status in society.
- Societal – Pressure and fear propaganda from media outlets, news, culture, lifestyle, friends and just about everything you can think of. Our ‘modern society’ promotes a way of living that is out of alignment with living a happy life from the inside out. Much of this does little to nourish the spiritual self resulting in a feeling that something is missing in our lives.
In today’s society the number one fear is rooted in mental neurosis expressing itself through a lack of love for self and other, anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorders, irritability and the list goes on.
Bringing Light to Dark Places
To dissolve a fear we must bring it out into the open and light. This may scare us due to what others might think or the consequences that may arise but keeping the fear inside and allowing it to unconsciously shape our reality is a scarier thought. I learned this whilst writing Teachers Keep it in Your Trousers! This was a difficult piece to write least of all because it involved multiple people. However my boldness and valid perspective had a far more positive outcome for myself and others than negative.
In one of my relationships I gave my power away to a person who shattered their integrity by being easily seduced by the flattery and adulation of others and tried to cover it up several times. The light of truth only arose when a friend informed me of what had occurred. They where effectively in denial of their low-self esteem shadow, resulting in infidelity. Since I was also in deep denial of my own low self-esteem shadow, I drew this person into my reality to teach me a powerful lesson in self-love, responsibility and care. Ultimately it wasn’t our shadows that got both of us into trouble, it was the denial that came with those shadows. The refusal to be completely transparent with ourselves and others. Because we didn’t acknowledge or address the problems that arose early on in the relationship, carelessness was given free reign.
Main aspects of facing and resolving fear:
- Acknowledgement – The first step always comes in acknowledging our fear and that we’re afraid.
- Awareness – Once we bring our awareness to a fear we’ve already begun the process of transformation.
- Imperfect action – This leads us to the next step where we can take action and do something about it. In my case I signed up for swimming classes to overcome my fear of deep water.
- Out in the open – When we share our fears in public or with others their hold over us lessens.
- Release and Surrender – Releasing stubborn patterns, behaviours, attitudes and beliefs which we know don’t serve us or where we wish to be in life.
- Commitment – Committing ourselves to new ways of ‘being’ and ‘doing’ which feel good to us.
Write an inventory of your fears on one piece of paper. Once your fears are acknowledged and you have brought the light of awareness to them, on a separate piece of paper replace those fears with a sentence affirming that you have already overcome them. Attach an emotive word, which describes what it might feel like to transform this particular belief or fear. For example “I have a fear of deep water” is replaced by “I swim effortlessly, with joy and freedom in the deepest water.” After this you can begin to take imperfect action towards tackling your fear.
It may take the form of a simple step such as confiding and reaching out to a friend, booking an appointment with a specialist, signing up for classes, facing someone you have struggled with and so on. The key is directing energy towards movement instead of leaving it stagnant. Sometimes doing none of the above can also be affective, but there are very few people who can completely detach from and rise above their fears. I recommend engaging with your fears like small children who wish to be nurtured and acknowledged. Know that anything is possible to overcome no-matter how deep the wound or trauma.
When we begin the journey towards opening our hearts fully for the entire world to see, touch and feel, we realise there’s nothing that can harm us, only our own thoughts.- Jaspreet
Taking the Plunge
In recent weeks I have taken the plunge (literally) and faced one of my biggest fears by taking swimming lessons. It has been a liberating step I’ve undertaken which has infiltrated to other areas of my life. At the end of it I’m confident I’ll be swimming like a fish, frog or some form of aquatic life at the very least. Taking this small but big step has been empowering. I am the architect of my own reality. All my accumulated thoughts and beliefs are a result of my lifes experiences. I get to choose how I label and perceive events in my life. There is a sudden freedom that emerges with this realisation, a hopefulness that encourages us to re-examine everything we have ever believed to be true about ourselves. As children we where taught by the belief systems that belonged to others. As adults we create our own.