Fear on the Brain

A couple of years ago, I made a decision to no longer make choices from a place of fear. I wanted to completely operate from LOVE (the highest, most powerful energy in the world). If I'm being honest, I thought that I was doing this; I recently realized how much I have not been and I'm refocusing on this priority.


The trance of fear is a paralyzing filter that stops us from connecting with people we care about, stops us from feeling spaciousness and open heartedness, and ultimately stops us from living life with a sense of freedom. Fear is this constant state of anticipation of what may go wrong and our heart and mind contract. Sure, physical and emotional pain are unpleasant, but fear can feel unbearable. When we're truly gripped by it, nothing else exists. We attach to our stories of fear, to our ways of resisting it, to our well oiled defense systems that stop us from love, vulnerability, connection, and expansiveness.


I've learned recently through my own inner-work and my re-read of the book Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach, that true acceptance is our liberation. When we say YES to fear, we can connect to the fullness of BEING. Our heart and awareness can no longer be overshadowed.


Fear is the anticipation of future pain.


The basic function of fear is to assure survival. Our muscles get tense like we're about to fight, or perhaps we freeze and remain motionless in a protective stance. Only in mammals do our thoughts and memory create the emotion of fear. Again, it's part of the survival equipment. Your own personal history, traumas, and life experiences all play a role in what triggers fear in you. Fear alerts you to the possibility of negative feedback. We start to feel our well being is threatened and it can help us to respond in a healthy way OR it can trap us.


The real cause of fear is not always evident. Sometimes what lies beneath the initial trigger is something far deeper. Often it's our anticipation of loss: loss of a dream, loss of self, loss of a loved one, or even the ultimate loss of life itself.


Life is so fragile and loss is all around. This fear of separation from the life we love - the fear of death - lies beneath all other fears. And yet, without fear we would not be able to stay alive or thrive. So here is the problem - The emotion of fear often works overtime. There is no immediate threat, but our body remains tight and on guard, our mind is narrowed to focus on what might go wrong, and fear is no longer functioning to secure our survival. It's inhibiting us. We're reactive and we spend our time and energy defending.


Fear often stems from childhood and over time takes a toll on our bodies. Chronic tightness develops because your body thinks it needs to become an armor. Our mind makes associations with past experiences and produces endless stories reminding us of all the bad things that may happen. Our mind urgently tries to seek control and find the cause of the "problem". We point the finger at others, shut people out, or avoid things altogether.


This is a call to action to do THE WORK to resolve your trauma, open your heart, and live life in a way that is expansive and meaningful. The trance of fear stops you from being present. The rest of the world falls into the background and your attention focuses exclusively on the fearful stories you've created and efforts to feel more secure.


Instead of pointing the finger at someone or something else, try to ask yourself:


What does this situation or experience offer me? What am I craving in this moment? How can I find acceptance?


When we're responding to an accumulation of past pain, our reactions are out of proportion to what is happening IN THE MOMENT. When we feel criticized or disapproved, we get thrown back in time. This leads us to being forgetful, anxious, and depressed. We feel shame. We don't want others to know how much of our life is overrun by these difficulties, we don't want their pity. We pretend to be okay, but we sink more and more into being separate and alone.


This leads us to cutting off relationships, isolating, and we continue to feel fundamentally unsafe until we heal. We have to offer ourselves the love and safety we needed as children. We have to do the WORK. We have to open ourselves to love, vulnerability, and connection to re-wire our brain to TRUST and KNOW that we can be safe.


Tara Brach says, "The first step in finding a basic sense of safety is to discover our connectedness with others, as we begin to see the truth in the reality of belonging, the stranglehold of fear loosens its grip."


I'm here to tell you this:


As long as we are alive, we feel fear. It is an intrinsic part of our makeup. We can't resist it or push it aside. When we do that, we miss a beautiful opportunity to awaken. You can't just "wait it out" and hope it ends. When you open your heart in the face of fear, the pure and loving presence that unfolds is POWERFUL. In your darkest moments, you have to let go and trust, and remember this is where true freedom resides.