On fear

I wrote a kind of follow-up to the Monday Tarot Message from this week, on Instagram today. Also because I have been thinking about this for myself lately. Having stepped once again, but deeper this time, into trauma territory at therapy, I am revisiting and contending literal traumatic experiences from my past and renegotiating fear all over again.

Rewiring fear responses is by no means an easy task, but it takes active work. And I’m seeing how much readiness it takes to build before actually jumping in. I feel as if I have been only readying the soil all these years, for the work I am about to begin.

Anyhow, so fear has been on my mind a lot. Especially in context to Monday’s post about going within, finding the truth. The core of the self that gets hidden under layer upon layer of pretension as life chugs on. And I have been thinking about why we hide.

The training to hide who we really are and what we really feel, is built as a protective response to fear. It kicks in from early experiences of feeling unsure of how we will be received, from fear of causing or being hurt by showing ourselves, worrying that we may be too much for our loved ones to bear, and that being ourselves may cause them to leave or be displeased. And so we hide by creating a persona, a version of ourselves that keeps some facets under wraps and portrays only what we have learned is needed or “good”.

Often, hiding manifests as:

  • the inability to say no. Or saying yes, when you really mean no
  • the belief that anger is dangerous and should be suppressed/allowed to simmer
  • wanting to always be the bigger, emotionally mature person when facing conflict/confrontation
  • a desire to be always affable and liked by one and all
  • being everybody’s problem solver
  • living a dual life
  • difficulty in holding a contrarian belief

All of the above involve minimising a truer, more instinctive response, in favour of a more palatable one. Habitually choosing a polite falsity else over the truth takes us further and further away from what we know to be true. Further away from ourselves. Until we begin to feel like a mere shadow of ourselves.

So what is the process of “going within”? Healing, essentially. Revisiting and understanding what caused the hiding to begin with. Working with a professional, finding a support system and building a safety net that allows you to be your true self requires renegotiating those experiences so they may be revealed, healed and integrated.

This is how we can begin to overcome those hardcoded fears and get in touch with our authenticity once again. This helps expand space for healing, growth, and finding safe fulfilling connection. And that can be like finding life, coming alive, again.

I said in the post on Monday: “What we go searching for in the world around — belonging, validation, to be seen or heard, love or acceptance, surety  — inevitably brings us back to that self that lies beneath personas.” It is only by working with and healing that which we kept hidden, because we believed it is not worthy of being seen heard and loved, that we may begin to see just how worthy we actually are.

***

In October last year, nestled under a thick woollen blanket in a log cabin in Manali, I guzzled Calrine Myss’ Sacred Contracts, in which she says:

I am convinced that the deepest desire within each of us is to be liberated from the controlling influences of our own psychic madness or patterns of fear. All other things—the disdain of ordinary life, the need to control others rather than be controlled, the craving for material goods as a means of security and protection against the winds of chaos—are external props that serve as substitutes for the real battle, which is the one waged within the individual soul.

And I’ve come to realise, especially through my work recently, that this battle is universal. Every single human being is fighting it, just in different levels of intensity, with different stakes at hand.

Myss also makes an interesting comment on the idea of fate. In context to fear, she says the notion of fate as an uncontrollable sequence of events that just unfolds is a convenient one to believe in, when you let fear determine your choices. While destiny may have a role to play in how life is revealed, playing an active part in confronting fears is the way to make conscious, eyes-wide-open choices that are in alignment with our desires and aspirations.

They’re called conscious choices for a reason.

The biggest reason to ignore or dim our intuition in choice-making is fear. Our early experiences, where perhaps we were made to believe that who we authentically are, will not work out, definitely trains us to keep from letting that true self take the drivers seat again.

We are afraid of what intuitively living might do to those around us. But years and years of living from that dimmed space also makes us afraid of who we can truly be. We become afraid of the results of what living from a space of authenticity might bring. We fear the chance of change it offers.

Today, I had an epiphany. A distinct sense that I have moved from a space where I have been afraid of my own power coming to fruition, to now feeling very, very ready to welcome it.

This is to say I am fearless or that I’ve cracked the code and I get it right all the time. Or even that my life is a smooth set of consecutive intuitively-guided clear steps in the right direction.

I’m just expressing how liberating it has been to slowly shed my fear of uncertainty a little by little. Letting go of the fear of being seen in a certain light, as a certain kind of person, has allowed me to look at my life’s past experiences in a much richer manner.

Letting go, slowly, of this fear has opened up my present life to experiences I didn’t know I could have or enjoy. It has shined the light in relationships in my life and shown me which ones are probably likely to last longer than others. It has brought joy, lightness and agility to my life. I am able to move freely. I feel flexible and spontaneous.

It has made me seek learning and be okay with getting it wrong a lot. It’s taught me vulnerability and what it is to relinquish the notion of control I thought I had and needed. It’s helped me understand my need for perfection, and relax it.

It’s shown me the power of surrender, in the face or chaos and confusion. It’s taught me to slow down and find presence and breath. It’s brought me back home to my body. It’s made me acutely aware of the messes in my life, the emptiness, the discomfort, the loneliness, the hurt, the brokenness that I feel a lot of the time.

It has shown me that I can let it all be there. Without losing my power to, or because of, it. So today, if I were to define what fearlessness is, it’s not so much about the absence of fear. But the capacity to understand the space that fear occupies and where it comes from. It’s the ability to accept that fear has a place at the table too.

And it’s true, giving fear a place at the table, is life-giving. Contrary to everything I believed, that made me fearful to begin with, welcoming fear has made it lose its power over me.

One year ago: Slowly
Four years ago: Manifesting a dream

One thought on “On fear

  1. Pingback: On pain – haathi time

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