ARTICLE: The Antidote To Fear

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“Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive – the risk to be alive and express what we really are.” – Don Miguel Ruiz

fearWouldn’t it be wonderful have a fool proof strategy for getting unstuck and moving forward again whenever you find yourself in the grip of fear?

I once had an almost obsessive desire to discover ‘the magic formula’ for overcoming fear in any situation. Not just so I could use it as a coaching tool but more so because I felt I could really do with it in my own life. However, having trawled through countless books, recordings, courses and seminars I finally came to the point of admitting defeat. I was ready to accept that there is no ONE ultimate exercise or intervention for combating all fear.

That was until, by chance, I heard someone use a phrase that literally stopped me in my tracks. In a moment of profound clarity I realised that the absolute antidote to fear could never be found in an exercise or technique, but rather in the acceptance of a simple truth. The phrase I heard was:

“The question is irrelevant; Love is the answer”

(All together now… Ahhhhhh!!)

At any moment in life there are only two spaces we can be operating from – The space or love or the space of fear. That may seem over simplistic, but when you sit with it for a while it is easy to connect with the truth of it. Let’s look at how these two powerful emotions drive us:

 

FEAR

Fear shows up in many forms, from the obvious to the heavily disguised. The obvious side of fear can be recognised by the physical and emotional discomfort we get through being scared, worrying or having a lack of confidence. The less obvious side of fear manifests in us having the desire to change or control our environment and the people in it. This happens when something inside of us feels threatened or insecure about what we perceive is going on in the outside world, because it doesn’t measure up to our ideas of how things are supposed to be. Sometimes this causes us to be protective: “I must control your actions because I couldn’t live with myself if something were to happen to you”, and sometimes it can come out as anger: “You must feel the wrath of my aggression until you feel obliged to comply with my model of the world”. The interesting thing about anger, though, is that it is not an assertion of power; it is a request for power from someone who is feeling powerless – or to put it another way, afraid.

Fear is also present whenever we judge, belittle or deliberately humiliate others, or when we seek their approval by showcasing our nice shiny badges of wealth and success.

 

LOVE

It is important to define what love means in this context. I am not referring to the romantic ‘fluffy bunny’ kind of love (although that does very much have its place!!). Here, I am referring to love as being a genuine acceptance and reverence for all. When we come from a space of love, fear finds itself out on the street. Love and fear cannot occupy the same space. You can alternate between the two, but you’ll never experience both at the same time. Love is what happens when we strip away our expectations of the world and reconnect with the innate wellbeing that is always present within us. Love is having a deep knowing that happiness and joy is an inside job. No matter what happens on the outside, your wellbeing remains intact because it is not dependent on the thoughts and actions of other people or the right kind of circumstances. Coming from a space of love means acting on your natural desire to show kindness and compassion to yourself and others, and to not expect them to adhere to your own personal standards. It is where unconditional really does mean unconditional. And if you want to get all spiritual about it, yes, it is where you feel at one with nature and the universe.
The difficulty in overcoming fear lies in the action of the ‘overcoming’ itself. In order overcome anything you first have to place your attention of the thing you want to get passed and give it permission to have power over you. Of course it is possible to win the battle, but that can take more time and energy than is necessary for you to exert (and there may be many more battles to come before you finally win the war).

Actually, I do have a lot belief in Susan Jeffer’s popular principle of “Feel the Fear and do it Anyway”, but I have certainly found that this is not always the most efficient (or kind) way of getting things done. In my experience, living fearlessly has less to do with ‘overcoming’ and more to do with shifting perspectives.

One of the most powerful questions I have come to rely on for bringing me out of that space of fear is “What would love do?”

Let’s take a couple of examples:

Scenario 1: You have to make an important presentation to a group of highly influential people.

What would fear do? Fear would have you imagining fluffing your lines, making a fool of yourself and being exposed as a fraud. Fear’s strategy to help you through this ordeal might be to picture the audience in their underwear or two feet tall so that you can tower over them and dominate them with your magnificence.

What would love do? Love would remind you that no one wants you fail. You have valuable knowledge that others want to know about and, as long as you remain true to that purpose, nothing can be threatened. Love’s strategy for guiding through this opportunity might be to send thoughts of warmth and well wishes to your audience before and throughout your presentation.
Scenario 2: Someone says something hurtful to you.

What would fear do? Fear would immediately feel the pain of the wound and lash out in defence. Something inside of you may feel broken or betrayed. You might try to redirect the attention toward their shortcomings in an attempt to re-establish a bit of power, or you might just feel you are the victim of some grave injustice.

What would love do? Love would recognise they are coming from a space of their own fear. They must be suffering in some way. When you know someone is suffering you can be compassionate. Even if there is nothing you can do at that time, love can remind you that your own innate wellbeing is not dependent on their thoughts and opinions of you in that moment.


HOMEWORK


Take a moment to be honest with yourself and think about a situation that you have not been handling particularly well lately (I know, I know, you’re perfect… but just humour me ;o). Perhaps you’ve been scared about an upcoming event. Perhaps you have been too controlling or harsh with someone close to you. Whatever that situation may be for you, spend some quality time contemplating these three questions:

“What is it specifically that I have been afraid of?”

Then,

“So, what has been the underlying positive intention of me responding in this way?”

Then,

“What would love do?”

 

Lots of love!!

Take great care. Namaste.

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