In the last post, we saw that fear is at the root of your conditioned habits. We get so caught up in playing out these habits, that we don’t stop to recognize that fear is what underlies them.
Take people pleasing as an example. Why do you need to please others? You’re afraid of rejection or abandonment or being alone. And what about any addiction or compulsive behavior? Behind it is a a fear of meeting your own tender feelings.
If fear remains unexamined, these habits will continue to rule your life. Make friends with fear, and you’re getting to the source of the problem. It’s like emptying the gas tank. Take away the fuel for the habits, and they lose their power.
But seeing through the fear that drives automatic habits is not just about making you feel better. When you’re willing to face what’s true, you’ve opened to a higher level of consciousness. You’re authentic and real with what is.
It’s a sacred practice to recognize the grip of familiar thoughts and feelings and be who you are without them.
In this post, you’ll get to know fear. It shows up in two ways: in your thoughts and in the body.
The Inner Voice of Fear
Fear isn’t obvious at first, so you have to look for it. It rarely appears in your face screaming, “I’m afraid!” It has other more indirect ways of expressing itself.
The voice of fear is all about no. It tells how you won’t be successful, how you’re going to screw up, and it points out every negative outcome imaginable.
Its intention is to protect you and keep you safe. And it does this by making you terrified of going one millimeter outside your comfort zone.
Here is how fear speaks:
- It tells you what you should and shouldn’t do.
- It catches you in doubt, going back and forth in your mind so you can’t move forward.
- It keeps your mind spinning in an ongoing flood of thoughts.
- It imagines the worst about the future.
- It questions your brilliance and creativity.
- It wants you to stay with what’s familiar to you, even if that is painful and damaging.
- It doesn’t want you to change.
Its voice is contracted and edgy, and it keeps you feeling flat and unalive.
If these thoughts are in charge, first recognize that they’re present. You may have to look carefully to the core of the thought pattern, as they’re not always obvious.
Then, don’t take them as truth. Fearful thoughts are all about limiting you and making you believe things about yourself that are patently untrue.
Don’t negotiate with these thoughts. Don’t let them define you. Instead, press pause, take a breath, and turn your attention away from them.
You’re still here in your full magnificence. It’s a moment of feeling fresh and alive.
Dip your toe into this space that is not inhabited by fearful thoughts. Get familiar with not being limited. You’re opening to the full, lovely, boundless potential of you.
The Fear Body
The other aspect of fear to recognize is how it shows up in your body. The experience of fear is very physical. You’ll notice contractions, tightness, an energetic sense of unease.
Getting to know this physical expression of fear is essential if you don’t want fear to drive you. Ignore these sensations, and fear will be running in the background. Bring the light of awareness to them, and the pattern of fear won’t be able to gel.
After all, they’re only physical sensations. But left unseen, they create all kinds of trouble in your mind and behavior, which I’m sure you know well.
Simply let these sensations be in the field of awareness, and fear won’t trap you. Hiding from them keeps you stuck; being present with them is what sets you free.
Take a moment to sit quietly, then bring your attention away from your mind and into the sensations in your body. Don’t do anything with them—simply notice them and allow them to be present.
And here’s an important caveat: Don’t welcome these sensations with the expectation that they will disappear.
The human body is built for survival, and physical sensations of fear are ingrained to help you stay vigilant so you can protect yourself. As long as you’re inhabiting your human body, you will feel sensations you identify as fear.
But if you are a welcoming presence for these sensations—whenever they appear—you’re derailing the pattern of fear. Honor the gift of your experience by meeting it rather than wishing it were different.
Unawareness keeps challenging habits firmly in place. And awareness heals.
Every moment when you recognize fear, but you don’t believe it or act on it, is a moment of grace. You’ve aligned with truth. You’ve connected with your natural, unconditioned state.
Get to know how fear speaks to you in your thoughts. Feel how it shows up in your body. You’re welcoming in the possibility of your essential wholeness.
Spend some time every day reflecting on your experience. What are you learning about how fear speaks and feels? Please share in the comments. And if you’re reading by email, click here to visit GailBrenner.com and to comment.
Always in love,