When you think of it, we still live in a fear-stricken world. My guess is that 99% of the human population lives in a fear-based mentality. We all experience this in some way or another. If we review our personal life we will always find thoughts, beliefs and episodes that revolve around the central theme of fear – fear for our loved ones, fear of loneliness, fear of changes, fear of loss, and so on.
This pervades all levels of society. Many economic, political, and military decisions (all based on some apparent logic) are rooted in illogical fear.
You Always Have A Choice
Fear and love are the basic units of human emotions. Yet we constantly choose fear over love: for some of us it’s the only thing we know, while for others it is an unconscious choice.
At its core, fear has an evolutionary purpose – it drives the fight or flight survival mode. But in our complex modern societies, fear became a by-product rather than an indispensable drive. It can debilitate us, immobilize us from taking action, or move forward. It muddles our thinking and most of all ends up being self-destructive.
When we face difficult moments in our life, when our world is shaken or threatened, we helplessly fall into fear-mode. The real danger is not the fear itself but rather the fact that it overrides our feelings and thinking, and leaks into all that we do. When we let fear get into the cockpit, panic is bound to fly us into danger.
So when we face a scary moment or life situation, we always have a choice to react in fear or to respond consciously by keeping perspective, evaluating it from a different angle, and calling on our inner and outer resources.
What you need to be conscious of when you feel that fear and panic are taking their grip on you is that you have a choice – you always do. Start from this simple but powerful thought and the rest will begin to present itself on its own accord.
Piercing Through Your Fears
There are times when fear does not arise out of a clear external event but lurks in the background, often unsuspected by our wakeful consciousness. Yet it still plays out a big role in how we relate to life and others through our choices and actions – or rather, reactions. This is where the perennial advice ‘face your fears’ comes in. I prefer using the expression ‘pierce your fears’ since you face a real thing but you pierce an illusion. This is an important distinction to make because we can either empower our fears and give them substance through believing they are real, or we can consciously see through them and vanquishing their power over us.
Ask yourself what is it you fear most at this moment in your life. You need to dig a little bit since there is often a more basic fear underlying the one you become conscious of. For example, you might perhaps identify that you fear losing your job or your income. This is backed up by a more basic fear of being insecure and lacking means, which also gives rise to dependency.
Then perhaps you observe that this fear is rooted in a deep hidden belief that the world is a hostile place where if you don’t strive to survive, you perish. You then question this belief. “How real and substantive is it?” “Have I got some solid evidence to back it up?”, “Can’t I see how many instances of my life are direct counter-evidence to this belief?” And as you question and gain perspective over this belief, the fear upon which it is based starts losing it power.
Another general characteristic of fear is that, like panic, it is highly contagious. In fact there are lots of fears that are handed down to us by others or induced by others’ beliefs and behaviors. In a way this is unavoidable because we will always affect each other through social interaction. Yet there is always a lot of space to avoid being in environments that are unhelpful or around people who are negative and convey fear. Scaremongers, cynics, highly anxious people, and very insecure people are an example.
The Power Of Surrendering
In moments when the burden or the pain is too hard to handle – those life situations that really shake us to the core – the power of surrender is key. It does not mean giving up on life or surrendering to your fears but rather surrendering your control over them and trusting that you life will support you through it in one way or another.
Going back to our freedom of choice – the most powerful idea of all is that we have at any time the freedom to choose love over fear. Love is the greatest creative force we can tap into at will although we tend to constantly forget. Through surrendering your control and being grateful for all the blessings, big or small, in your life, you will open your heart to the limitless creative force that will not only dissolve fear but create your destiny based on joy, openness, and bliss.
Featured image by Morgan Sherwood, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 2.0 license.