The Healing Lodge
Personal Awareness — On Fear
The first step in dealing with fear is recognizing it for what it
is. Recognizing (and in some cases analyzing) your fears is very inportant
in that process.
Ultimately, there is one fear that provides the foundation off all others: the fear that we may not be able to deal with whatever *may* happen. Fear itself is a mechanism that resides in the 'animal part' of ourselves, a mechanism intended to keep us out of harmful situations. Fear of heights, for example, is a mechanism that tries to keep us out of those situations where falling is a possibility. Fear of spiders and other black hairy things that crawl with too many legs keeps us away from potentially harmful varieties. Fear of drowning keeps us out of the water.
Then there are those fears based upon previous experience. Someone who has nearly drowned may be afraid to swim... someone who has been abused may fear people... someone who has nearly died in a fire may be afraid of fire. These fears are 'learned' fears, and it's a way for our subconscious to say "You've been there before and it hurt. Don't do it again."
The first kind of fear, the reflexive kind, may be overcome by realizing what the fear is trying to do: it's a reflex to keep us out of situations we can't handle. Those instinctive fears don't take into account our ability to handle a certain situation, or other factors. For example, I may be afraid of heights, but if there's no danger of falling, there's really nothing to be afraid of. The height itself is not dangerous. Realizing that the fear is just a reflex to prevent the danger of falling helps a lot. The reflex to be afraid is still there... but now you can tell yourself that, yes, you're afraid, but it's a reflex that knows nothing about the details of your current situation. You really can't fall, and now you're going to do whatever you set out to do. You've been feeding this body for so many years, now it's going to do what *you* want. The fear won't go away, the reflex is still there, your knees will still feel weak and your stomach tight... but you can now realize that *you* are in charge of yourself, and not the fear.
The second kind of fear, the one we learn, is more difficult, since the past has proven that we were in situations you could not handle. You *did* nearly die by drowning or fire, after all, you *did* suffer abuse you were unable to defend yourself against. This requires learning to deal with those situations, or changing things so that they cannot never occur again. If I nearly drowned, perhaps I should learn to swim better. If I nearly died in fire, perhaps I should install safety measures and train myself in a few good fire drills. If I suffered abuse, perhaps I should learn to be more assertive and train for self defense.
Even so, we all need to *realize* that the situation we are in now is different from the one that caused the fear. For example, if I nearly got killed in a certain building, I may be afraid to go in there again. By taking every possible precaution against further harm and then going in anyway, I *show* myself that I am in charge of myself and not the fear. I learn to see that what happened once doesn't have to happen again.
The bottom line: fear only has power over us if we allow it to. We cannot just ignore the reflexes, we cannot pretend they're not there. But eveyone is afraid of something. It's part of what we are, it's part of being human. We should not let the fear control us.We do that frequently... and stopping it is difficult... but it can be done.
Realize what your fears are. Recognize them for what they are. Tell them that they have no power over you.
Respect your fears... acknowledge them... but do not let them control you. *You* are in control, and fear has no power of its own. It's perfectly all right to be afraid. It's not a sign of weakness or of failure. Everyone is afraid, everyone has fears. Fear is part of us, part of what we are. Just realize that that's all it is... just a *part* of us, and a minor part at that. Nothing more.
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