I talked about emotions before. Today, I want to focus on fear. Just four letters, but what a powerful emotion that is! We experience fear from a young age, and on a planet ruled by the survival of the fittest, it is deeply ingrained in our physicality. Animals know fear, and the human body too. It protects us from doing things that would destroy ourselves. Seen like that, it’s a healthy survival mechanism. Except that, unlike animals, humans are self-conscious and possess free will. Those attributes can be a gift, but for many of us it is more of a curse.
Our thoughts have a direct influence on our bodies, and whether we imagine a situation or face it in the physical world, it’s all the same to the body. It doesn’t matter if you are running away from a bear in a forest or you are rushing through the corridors at the airport to catch your flight: it’s a stressful episode and your biology responds to it. Fear is released in your body. The problem is, once it’s there, humans—unlike animals—have no clue how to get rid of it.
The body is our vessel and send messages back to our mind. Body and mind are connected. Our emotions colour our thoughts, and steer our thinking in a particular direction—whether we realise it or not. Remember that day you felt pure joy during your last summer holidays? Or that random moment where everything seemed to be perfect? You saw the world differently, and you wished it could have always been the same. Except that it didn’t last. You reverted back to your baseline. And for many of us on this planet, that baseline is mostly fear.
Fear is an energy so deeply rooted in our beings that it can go unnoticed for years or even a lifetime. The last thing a fish sees is water. But at some point in our life, the shell may start to get a crack and we get a glimpse of what life is without fear. And we may suddenly realise that fear was there, all along. And that energy tainted and corrupted our best judgement. The job you did not dare to quit although you felt miserable. That relationship where you were not respected and treated poorly but you were afraid to die alone if you broke up. That random quarrel where you did not dare to speak your truth because you were scared of retaliation. And the list goes on and on… But one day, you will start becoming aware of the energy of fear behind the situations, not only in your life, but in other people’s life. It’s always easier to observe something outside of ourselves.
One step further: you may realise that our society at large is dominated by fear. Open your eyes: our obsession for planning and arranging everything; our aversion to the unknown and risk (just look at the variety of insurances that exist out there); our dread of ageing, getting sick and die. Again, there’s a lot that could be written about that. And don’t even get me started on Covid-19 and how the entire human species became paralysed by collective fear!
So why am I talking about all of that? Because dealing with our fear, as an individual and as a society, is unavoidable if we want to evolve. We’re stuck in fear. Full stop. We don’t know how to deal with it and we pretend all is fine. We evolve in emotionally dysfunctional societies and pretend it’s normal. We really need to do something about it! So where do we start?
We start by stopping telling ourselves we are not afraid. We start by facing our fear: that potent emotional energy that knocks at our door for attention, and want to be acknowledged and listened to. Most people don’t like admitting they’re afraid—especially men. We’re led to believe we should be fearless to make it through life, and being afraid is being weak. TV, cinema, and news tell us the tale of those people who are gorgeous, successful, rich and basking in eternal happiness, untouched by fear. It’s time to stop telling those tales to our youngsters because they absorb them like sponges, normalise them and then feel like misfits because nobody can have that sort of life. We all know, deep inside, that it’s fake. There’s a fundamental misunderstanding of what emotions are in our modern societies.
Whatever emotion we repress will get buried one step lower in our psyche. Over the years, that little inner garden our ours does not look pretty at all. Unattended fear becomes a parasite and gradually sucks out our vital energy. Compounded over years, fear can become a constant where we feel stuck in life and making any decision or doing anything new is perceived as such a threat—because of what could go wrong—that it’s best avoided.
So it all starts with the emotion: fear. And fear generates and endless stream of thoughts that are fearful in nature. Those thoughts create tension in our body, and sickness under the mask of many health conditions can arise. The worse part is, many of our thoughts are self-created and do not relate to anything real in the outer world. That’s where thinking becomes a curse: you are a sentient being and you are literally using your consciousness against your own wellbeing by making you feel miserable.
When you’re not comfortable dealing with your fear and processing the energy it carries, you’ll be resisting it. And in the world of emotions, resistance is exactly what you should NOT do! Resistance, repression, suppression or avoidance are not helping you in the long run because they do not address the energy load of fear: they only try to deflect it. They are all losing strategies, because fear will stay stored in your body as energetic poison. If that’s the only way you’ve ever dealt with your fear, it’s likely that fear will find you at every hour of the day. If only you can still recognise it.
The real work on emotions requires courage and consists in facing the energy of the emotion. So face your fear: what does it have to tell you, where does it feel strange in the body, what’s its deep meaning for mending your ways ? It always has a message. You can see fear as a human being if it helps, or a primordial energy, or a deity, but try building some relationship with it. It’s part of you and denying it will not make it any less real.
One of the steps on the healing journey is facing your fears. That means: feel the fear, fully, unreservedly, in your entire body. Surrender to it. Process it. Then, if it applies to the situation, do the thing that was the object of fear anyway. Many of our fears are irrational and plain ridicule—something we’ll realise ourselves once we’ve outgrown them. Talking to someone about your fears is also a good way to de-dramatise them. That requires emotional intimacy with someone though, something that is not so common.
Gradually, we can move from being stuck in fear to being comfortable dealing with it. Life will throw tests at us. That famous comfort zone that the ego dares not crossing, it’s on the boundary and beyond that the growth lies. There will be moments when we fail the test. And others, when we are finally ready, when we make it. It will take years, decades, or even one or several lifetimes. But at some point, our frequency will be such that fear is no longer an enemy and our thinking is not dominated by fearful thoughts anymore. And then the real healing will have taken place: letting go of fear.
Fear is the number one emotion to master because all negative emotions derive from it. It’s such a fascinating energy when you think about it. Some people live a mediocre existence just because they’ve allowed fear to govern their mind all of their life. And yet, they were just sabotaging themselves all along. They simply could not see they had all they needed to succeed in whatever it is they wanted to achieve. Look around and you will find those people. Considering the billions of human beings that populate the earth today, that makes for a big waste of potential.