No one likes to be afraid. Still, there are considerable differences in how we think of its role in our lives. If it is necessary or not, useful or not.
One might argue that fear is a crucial instinct that has helped us survive, still safeguarding us. Therefore it’s logical that to some extent it is a helpful feeling, keeping us from getting hurt and protecting our lives.
When we think of that role of fear, it’s typically a response to an external threat to which the most ancient part of the brain, the amygdala reacts with setting off a series of actions in order to prepare the body to fight or flight. As a part of this process the brain basically shuts down, and the body prepares for action by, for instance, rising blood pressure, speeding up cellular metabolism, increasing the amount of glucose in the blood.
Most of the blood is directed to the body’s large muscles, like the legs, to provide them with enough energy. Functions slow down, like that of the immune system, because at that moment all that’s necessary is to be able to fight or run away.
And this function can indeed help us survive in serious, life threatening situations.
Fear as a motivation
Another result of fear that may be considered positive by some is motivation. We’re ready to take on a whole bunch of things because of fear. Fear of our parents’ or teachers’ disapproval, losing someone or losing a job and many many more.
So we learn and work and do things we otherwise may not be doing.
The animal and the divinity inside
So is fear a good or a bad thing?
Let’s try a different approach here. To be a human being means to have both the instinctive world of animals and the light of divinity within us, both at the same time. To be a human being is to be in transition from one to the other. It’s a temporary state, a significant step on our way to become, to evolve into that divine being that resides in each of us.
If you want to translate it to the level of chakras, our deepest fears are seated in the root chakra, connected to our survival, our very existence. As we go up higher in the chakras, fear is still there, even if in a more subtle way. But what’s the most curious thing is that at the level of the crown chakra, fear is not present. It’s simply not there. Quite the contrary.
At the divine end of our being fear is not a factor. It dissolves in feeling loved and protected and taken care of and in that of everything is alright as it is. At that level the concept of fear itself cannot be interpreted.
Here our survival is shown in a different light, being aware of our eternity and inviolability.
And the motivation we used to gather from fear starts to disappear, and even on the way the traces that remain are not powerful enough to push us any further. Instead, what we want is to be connected and act according to our highest self, aligned with the truth, fulfilling our purpose by serving God and all humanity.
Who’s in control?
So the question remains which part, which end of your being you intend to put in control. The part that is closer to the instincts, or the one that’s more about consciousness and the knowledge of being eternal, in unity with everything.
The first one results in a life driven by fear and desire. This life leaves us almost no choice: we’re automatically drawn either away from whatever we’re afraid of or pushed towards whatever we want for ourselves.
The second offers us a way out: an opportunity to transcend the dragging and tossing of our fears and desires and reach a higher state of free choice, happiness and integrity.
Fear and ego
The ego doesn’t like the second option. It likes to be big and to play a part far beyond its actual role.
And don’t be fooled by its games: playing small, feeling inferior and not enough is just the other side of the coin. The ego can dwell within it just as much as in feeling cool and superior, knowing everything better. It does everything to keep us under the illusion that we are in control. That we can influence the circumstances. And to do that, we just have to listen to it, moving away from fear, chasing our desires.
As for me, I used to have no idea of how much my fears controlled my life. When asked, I could of course name some of them, like everyone else. But I had no idea of the depths.
Until the time came for me to face it. Not such a long time ago, actually, I had to make a decision I really didn’t want to make. I felt that I was thrown in the middle of a situation where I didn’t want to be, having to make a choice I didn’t want to make. But I couldn’t run away, nor could I postpone the decision. It was a decision that greatly affected my whole life and that of everyone close to me.
So I tried to think, but there was a white fog where my brain should have been. I was on the edge of panicking, so I started practicing. I was looking for some ease, relief from that stressful situation. Instead, I just got worse. Fear I’ve never known before, never even thought existed suddenly came and possessed me.
It was overwhelming. It hardly let me move or breathe. Only then could I see how thoroughly it invaded my life, paralyzing me. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t make a decision.
But there was no way to avoid it: so I said something. It may have looked like a choice but it didn’t feel like one. I just uttered something I knew would change lives without being able to think or feel anything.
Still, I will always be incredibly grateful for that experience. It showed me the depth of my fear and the enclosure of my prison cell.
And I knew I didn’t want to live like that anymore. Not a minute longer.
Overcome, manage, let go
Another thing we have to decide is what approach to take? How do we want to deal with fear?
One way is just to accept it as an unpleasant but sometimes useful emotion. Or we believe that it does more harm than good and therefore we’d be better off without it. Either by somehow overcoming or managing it or, taking it a step further, letting it go, being able to dump it on will.
Which one would you vote for?
If you check the first entry for overcome in the Cambridge Dictionary, you’ll find the following: to defeat or succeed in controlling or dealing with something.
Manage is similar to it in a way that it means dealing with something. Applying them to fear neither of them expresses a solution to eliminate it for good.
If you rather vote for overcome or manage, you’ll most probably look for some technique of breathing or visualization or awareness. They can be useful, but don’t promise to show a way out of the cage of fears.
Letting go already has a aura of relief, implying that we have choice. There’s a promise that when it emerges, we have the power not just to notice but to decide whether or not it’s useful or justified and based on that either keep it or leave it.
How does it work?
So letting go of fear is an ambitious idea, and not without a base. But still, for how many of us does it really work like that?
For example, I used to be jealous in some of my relationships.
I was well aware that the fear feeding my jealousy was not helping me or the relationship. I was aware that it was mostly coming from my feeling of insecurity during my childhood. I knew that letting my fear manifest in jealousy is not going to be of any help to keep the relationship or to elongate it even for a day more or to save me from pain.
So I tried to convince myself to see it in a different light. Telling myself that I wanted to be in a relationship based on trust, because I cannot live otherwise. And if the other misuses that trust, then it won’t work out in the long run anyway. I told myself that my fear and jealousy won’t keep the other from cheating or lying. I also told myself that it’s so much better to feel yourself free in any relationship and give the other the same freedom. That way I can really give him the chance to stay with me of his own free will.
It all sounds fair and logical, isn’t it? So did it work? No. NO, it DID NOT work. I could see how insensible my fears were at the bottom of my jealousy, but that realization didn’t help get rid of my feelings. I felt they were coming from such a deep place in me, from the level of the gut, that no reasoning could reach there.
I had to admit to myself that I wasn’t able to rationalize my fears away. And not only my fears but a lot more other feelings and accompanying thought patterns that seemed to be interwoven deep in my very cells.
I’m not saying it cannot be done. I accept that some people’s minds are so strong that it may overpower these gut sensations. But mine was not. And as far as I can see, for many others the mission seems to be impossible as well.
Letting go for real
I know this post is about fears, but they cannot be separated from desires, because these two together cover basically all human motifs. All of us know both, but some people are driven mostly by fear, while others mostly by desires. You could say that one is better/safer then the other, but at the end of the day there’s not much of a difference: they keep you a captive.
And the thing is that our highest self, our very core will never be satisfied with being a captive. So in case we don’t want to make the conscious choice of moving towards our divine side and away from the animal side, our fate will still be working. It’ll be working on us whether by elevating us up to the skies or dragging down to the mud, but sooner or later leading us to make that conscious choice.
Because not one of us was born to be a captive. Bad circumstances and hardships can be a more harsh waking up call, but with time even a favorable setting will have a feeling of scarcity.
Like being a prisoner on a wonderful island with white sand beaches and palm trees and an always pleasant climate where you stay protected from the sharpness of the rest of the world. But you’re still a prisoner, who may accept the situation and may even enjoy it temporarily, but at some point will want to feel whole and free and unrestricted.
The fastest and most thorough way I know is through the complex transformation system of Anamé Program, which includes the exercises of Karma Killer Yoga.
With its help I was able to get to a point where I could see how my fears were ingrained in all aspects of my life. The realization was shocking and dumbing at the same time. But by that time it came, thanks to the practice, their grip on my life was weakened enough for me to go against them consciously, too. For that, I had to accept that I’m not in control. I don’t control the circumstances and I don’t control the other’s feelings and thoughts.
And as obvious as it sounds, how many of us actually live our lives with this knowledge? Without trying to manipulate the circumstances or one another in order to end up with a more favorable outcome for ourselves?
And what I couldn’t do earlier in my life by convincing myself or reasoning with myself, dissolved by now.
Fear still revisits. It wants to bring jealousy with it, too. But now I’m able to say no, and what’s more important, I’m able to feel no. And how does it feel? Free. Free and light and happy and loving. There’s no gripping sensation I used to feel so impotent about.
And what does it feel like? Well, instead of the contracting feeling of fear I sense spaciousness, excitement and curiosity.
Freedom is being born
So let me tell you what happened to my jealousy that used to stem from fear and a wish to control.
I trust him and am grateful for him with all my heart. Whenever I feel the shadow of the old negative feelings, I choose love. I cherish his freedom as well as mine. I love and admire how he connects to me. I know now that should I fall for the urge to control at any point, I’d kill this beautiful, living connection. Now I rather choose to enjoy it and nourish it. And it means a very different life from what I used to live.
Does it always come naturally to me? No. It was not enough to make a decision once. I have to do it every day, to this day. So letting go doesn’t happen as smoothly as I imagined, like a leaf falling off a tree. At least not for me, or not yet. It requires alertness, intention and perseverance. Alertness to notice when the old, deeply coded patterns would start to switch on. You can feel fear lurking around, creating a shadow. Intention, because you always have to know what you want to vote for and make your choices accordingly. And perseverance, because the next day, and the day after that and each day you do the same.
And I’ve given you only one example, one aspect of my life to let you see how fear was poisoning it, but I could have picked several others. From my finances to family bonds and making decisions, the list would just go on and on.
Now it’s your turn. It’s your turn to choose between the world of instincts and divine existence. Between contraction and vastness. Between vegetation, being dragged by your fears and a full, alive life with real choices in every moment.
What is it that you want? It’s a very important question, because your intentions matter.
And none of us can save ourselves from the responsibility of making a decision. Because we choose in each and every moment: with our actions, our thoughts and feelings, or by not making a choice.
And if you’ve reached the end, a little something to enjoy: