11-22-20 Fear

Fear 

Basically, there are two types of fear. One is a natural fear of danger—flight, fight, or freeze. The second is psychological fear which is unnatural. You can think of psychological fear as fear with an attitude. Psychological fear is ego-driven.

 As the fear voice in the head gets going, it’s prone to make a story out of an event, develop an attitude and opinion about it, and relive it in countless ways. It will then discolor our perceptions and make us try to manipulate, ignore or run away from our lives.

In my addiction, I was afraid of many things. I was afraid my addiction would be found out. I was afraid I would not have enough of my “stuff.” I was afraid of other people, and not sure of how to relate to anyone else in a healthy way. As my addiction progressed, I became more and more fearful and withdrawn. I kept trying to hide and avoid my fears with a substance or behavior that would numb me. Drinking drugging, eating, sex, TV, exercise, making money…endless ways of entertaining and numbing myself to avoid looking at what was causing my unhappiness. If fear is our foundation, it forces us to be afraid and react in negative and harmful ways, and to look for solace in temporary diversions, addictions, entertainments or resentments. 

I was also afraid of dying; sometimes, I was afraid of not dying. I turned a corner when I experienced a very strong fear of my not having really lived, though I had been given this precious opportunity to do so. It became very clear to me that I was throwing my life away—that fear would not stop death, but it was stopping life. I knew then that I wanted to live and grow. It would be challenging, but I was willing to go through the “difficult blessings” of learning to grow, being honest and looking clearly at who I was and how I related to the world. 

“I seemed to find hope in AA that I could recover from alcoholism. What I really found, through others who went before me and shared their experience with me, was the recognition of the capacity within myself to honestly face who I am, how the world is, and to choose to live more honestly, more fearlessly, with a kind and gentle heart. This path took effort and resolve. With practice, I began to relax into the flow of life, while still being able to deal with all the ups and downs.” Paraphrased from Alcoholics Anonymous 

When I feel a fear arising, I learn to step OUT of the fear and take a look at it, with an awareness of what is happening and a caring and gentle mind. Most people who start practicing mindfulness meditation realize for the first time  how much of their behavior is motivated by fear. If this happens to us, we may begin to feel discouraged or possibly defensive, or to adamantly assert that our fear is justified and even needed. We’re used to fear and almost consider it to be intrinsic to who we are, so these responses are natural. It is as though we are afraid to be without fear!

How can we advance fearlessly and without hesitation? Being alert and curious about our fear allows it to become our teacher as well as to serve our growth. This gives purpose to what is otherwise meaningless suffering. I do not permit fear to decide my limitations, of which there are none.

In meditation we are practicing choosing where we’re placing our minds. As we are able, perhaps only momentarily, to settle our minds, we may feel the stability, clarity and strength that is naturally there. Not fear. We have been covering up our gentleness and happiness with our fears and story lines that are all about “ME.” Open up, relax. Have a clear, content mind and heart.

We can then, with a settled mind and a healthy spacial awareness, look directly at how fear is affecting us. We bring an awareness to our pain as if a child we love were experiencing that pain. We love and treat that child with loving-kindness. We do not identify with it; it is an experience we can now work with and that we know will pass. If you understand something, you will not fear it. 

Whenever a fear arises in us again, we’ll have the option to accept it and smother it with loving-kindness.

[The attachment “Contemplation on an Emotion” shares how to work with difficult emotions…   please take a look at it.]

“When something keeps coming up in meditation, that’s a signal we need to deal with it. We need to process it. We need to process it thoroughly and fearlessly, to feel it and experience it, then let it go, and come back to the moment.” Paraphrased from John Daido Loori 

I am so used to living with fear that I have to make a big effort to be aware when fear is arising and to STOP, to not mindlessly indulge in it, but to look at what I am feeling—before I act. If someone else is being manipulative or angry, can you not respond in kind or in fear, but instead know how important it is to touch into your compassion for them, and act in a way that will express your dignity and control? In a manner that will actually be beneficial, not more harmful to all?

Fearlessness is empowered by fear. We can’t develop fearlessness—real compassionate, generous fearlessness—without fear. Fearlessness is born of fear.

There will be times when we are upset, unsure and hurt. We will be able to work WITH these emotions in a better way and have a better outcome, when we care for ourselves and others.

Fear robs me of joy, humor, intelligence, and any lightness in my life. I need to be aware of the negative consequences that fear is having on using my life, and say “NO, I will not permit this. I want to live.”

If I can straighten my shoulders and back, see what is around me without looking for anything, smile a little and meet another’s eyes gently and warmly, I have made good progress. Think less, see and feel more. Your intelligence and intuition will be more engaged, and inform you of a  reality beyond your fears. 

You are capable of bringing about a fuller and happier life, with all of its difficulties and joys. Life awaits. You are WORTHY. Be as brave as you can, and then keep going—no negativity towards yourself. Believe in yourself and your capacity for love and kindness. Don’t be afraid to care.

How do you fill your bucket? One drop at a time.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

The great arises out of small things that are honored and cared for.

Heart Of Recovery web site  —  fcheartofrecovery.com


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