Fear: A Friend or Foe

Quite some time ago I lived much of my life with fear being the basis for my decisions. I wasn’t consciously aware of it: fear had become ingrained in my way of being as a very young child; I didn’t know anything else. All I was aware of was a constant discomfort in my body. Most of the time, I denied the discomfort even existed. My life was a constant reaction of either fight or flight.

Many of my friends advocated affirmations as a way of healing. So I set out daily, with strict determination, to overcome this unsettled inner feeling. I studied many books written about the subject and made sure each word I chose was thoughtfully selected; present tense, positive and felt throughout my whole body. I faithfully wrote, spoke, drew, meditated on and felt the message of the day and continued to do this for a long period of time. It did not work. Outwardly I became a more positive person, but inwardly there was no change. Feeling the fear was still very big inside.

While manifesting positivity is a good thing, I believe there is a place in healing for examining and changing attitudes. What I experienced in this case was that the affirmations were like a band-aid on a much deeper challenge. I came to understand that sticking to affirmations has the potential to keep us from not truly facing the really tough issues that, in turn, lead to an expedited form of healing.

And so, with help, I was able to name the part of myself that was Fear. I felt it as a constant dull ache in my stomach. I had accomplished so much in life–nothing could ever stop me. How could this part be Fear? I was ashamed to admit that I even felt fear. All I wanted was for this part to go away. “Be gone Fear!” But that didn’t work either.

I came to understand that I needed to embrace Fear. Ignoring it, rejecting it, pushing over it and trying to bury it, all didn’t work for me and actually made it bigger. I began to build a relationship with this long neglected part. I would lie with my hand on my stomach and surround Fear with love and in doing so I expanded the part of me who is compassionate, loving and understanding. From the place of compassion, I breathed into Fear. I created a dialogue, journalled and drew pictures of Fear. I danced Fear. As I came to understand the roots of Fear, Fear diminished.

Do I ever feel Fear now? Of course… fear is one of the complex emotions that make me a human being. What is different now is that it is not a constant in my being. Fear does not control my decisions. I am less reactive and more thoughtful. I make clearer and healthier choices for myself. By embracing Fear, I feel more whole in who I am.

P.S. The world is in a state of chaos. Fear is rampant. It is my belief that what is going on inside of us as individuals is reflected globally. The choices I see are to be a part of the fear, stand as an opposing force to fear or to dig down deep and work through our own fear.

Amy Hanson is an Certified ARC Bodywork Therapist compassionately working with people from her Shawnigan Lake home.