Fear stands at the edge of love beckoning us into unknown territory. Fear can be an ally, a teacher, or an enemy. Fear is an extremely powerful force; she can cripple us. Henry David Thoreau said in his book Walden, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” The quiet desperation he identified is the terror that hides underneath every action that we perform. The ego is by definition scared and separate. It fights for survival and is afraid of everything it perceives as a threat. We’re afraid we are going to lose our jobs, die in a natural disaster, be disliked, or hurt by others, and any of the myriad things that go through our minds everyday. The specific content of our fears is typically what consumes our thoughts.
Until we come to terms with fear, we will be trapped in a hobbled cycle of not fully living and loving. In fact, to truly live is to love. And, to truly love is to love fear. When the individual embraces fear with love, there is a profound union in the heart and soul of the individual. We evolve through fear, through the brave action of embracing fear with our love. Every time we feel afraid, we have a choice to embrace fear, act unconsciously from it, or avoid it. When we take the opportunity to embrace fear with love, we become agents of love. By choosing love, our evolution quickens and deepens and we become free. For example, when I first began acting, my teacher taught me to use the energy of stage fright to fuel my performance. By taking an almost crippling fear of what others would think of me, I was able to harness this energy directly into my acting, and by doing so, enhanced every feeling and action I did on stage with this powerful energy.
Fear is the guardian of every new experience threshold we face, as we move into the unknown. Fear is like the scout who identifies the new frontier. Even with its pervasiveness in our lives, we dismiss fear all too easily. When we are not aware of fear, or only dimly aware of it, fear starts to control our actions by hiding in subtle undercurrents and undertones. Most actions in the human species stem from unfelt fear. For example, locking doors, planning for the future, hiding truths, scanning for danger, and hoarding toilet paper are all behaviors that are typically rooted in fear. Unless we have attained a measure of enlightenment, or self-realization, all our actions will have some residue of unfelt fear. When we’ve penetrated the depth of our terror, only then do we evolve and know who we truly are.
Face Fear: When you face your fear, you turn toward it, rather than away from it. When I admitted I was scared of acting on stage, I could face my fear. Once you turn toward your fear, you can love your fear. There are only three options, when fear initially presents.
- Ignore it and carry on. (Passive Denial)
- Turn away from it and pretend it’s not there. (Active Denial)
- Face and feel it. (Acceptance of Reality)
When we ignore fear and carry on, we live our life inside of passive denial. When we do this, in many ways life is okay; but, there’s an unsettling undercurrent that something bad for us is lurking just around the corner. Right now I haven’t filed my taxes; I filed for an extension. I don’t know exactly when they are due and I’d rather not pay any attention to it. I feel scared about it somewhere inside, but I’m ignoring this fear. I also am behind on checking my email and can feel the avoidance of this task as well. When I don’t face these fears, it puts a cap on how much I can enjoy life because these things are hanging over me. These tasks were in a kind of state of passive denial, until I wrote about them. I’m pretending they aren’t there by ignoring them. Ignoring our fears does not lead to happiness. It only leads to coping with life, at best.
When we turn away from our fears, we actively deny them. We may use affirmations to will ourselves in the direction of love and away from fear. We may believe that thinking about fear is negative and we shouldn’t engage in this so-called negativity. This form of active denial simply sends the fear more deeply into our shadow. It will come out in some form, when we least expect it, to seek the love it yearns for. Active denial is when one claims we have no fears and are filled only with love and light. We have convinced ourselves that we have evolved beyond fear by some sort of mental story about our state of spiritual growth or attainment. Fear still lurks below the story and comes out when we are having difficult experiences, such as the loss of a relationship or losing a job. This kind of active form of denial creates a split in the psyche between where the person actually is and where they are pretending to be.
For example, let’s say I’m single and want to be in a partnership. When I go into active denial, I pretend to myself that I’m happier being single and I’m grateful for it. I don’t find true happiness, I make up a story that I want to tell myself that’s not the actual truth of my heart in the moment. I could find sincere happiness in being single and this would not be denial. The denial method is where we don’t find the truth, but we make up a nice story about it that appears more pleasing to us than the hard truth. This places a protective coating over the heart. We expend additional energy to maintain this facade.
The best recipe for successfully evolving through fear is to:
- Face it!
- Feel it!
- Embrace it!
When we face, feel, and embrace fear, it loses all power to control our behavior. Through embracing fear, we have a powerful energy source to animate all our actions. Another name for fear is pure energy. When we don’t label fear as bad, we simply recognize it as a force of nature or an energy source which we can harness and use in any way we want. When we love our fear, we become identified as love and not fear. It’s part of the alchemical process where fear takes its rightful place as a part of us – and not all of us.
When you find yourself in a state of fear, notice what your mind wants you to do to get rid of the fear. Face the fear. Through feeling, and then loving the fear, new options will arise. This process transmutes the fear into unadulterated lifeforce energy. For example, the fear I harnessed in acting enhanced my performance. This energy brought me greater stage presence and helped provide nuance and depth to the characters I was portraying. This process of feeling and facing fear applies to much more than acting. By embracing the energy of our fear in life, we can have more of this energy to manifest whatever we desire. It’s part of the fuel I use to power all my writings and my art. Through embracing this fear I have boundless energy to live from and love from. This process of facing, feeling, and embracing fear is how we truly evolve through fear! Try it and let me know what you experience.
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