I used to think that fear was something I needed to blindly obliterate and replace by feel-good feelings and actions. Fear was something I should fight against, and not feel, it was a ‘dirty’ word and concept. Having said that, I used to confuse fear with my intuition, as it signaled that something was wrong, or that someone was not quite right. Although in some instances these perceptions may have at the time been right, I have come to realise through experience and self observation, that in general my understanding of fear has been somewhat misleading, and my perceived intuition was often really fear itself…and as a result possibly not always trustworthy. Recently, I realised that fear, albeit small, is pretty much present at all times within my being, in fact within everyone’s being, it is an integral part of the human make-up, and similar to our ego, it is an emotion that propels decision making and thought patterns in our daily life. Fear, no matter how big or small, is what creates our story.
It occurred to me a while back, that fear is pretty much the basis of most human emotions, harnessed by the ego, and a polarised contrast to love. This not so innocent epiphany shook me around a bit when it first surfaced, as I realised that within the mosh-pit of emotions that we feel and act upon (furnaced by fear and driven by our ego), is an emotion that we identify with as love, but which is not love at all. It’s a fake love of sorts, a form of compliance and emotional delegation, with a face laced with sweetness and affection. It’s contractual and conditional love, that slinks in under a greater disguise as love. I also realised that often, when we think we make decisions and or do things out of love, the driving force behind our thinking and acting, is down to its barren form actually fear. Any action, no matter how altruistic, is never self-less, it always has a selfish motive, even if that motive is making a decision or action that will benefit another. The desire, and or the seeking of pleasure or sense of fulfillment derived from altruistic behaviour, is after all about the Self having an experience, and is thus not self-less. For as long as a human is alive, there will be a Self whose needs and desires have to be met in one way or another.
I don’t mind or shun the ego. I see it as a part of our ‘incarnation kit’ for the human life experience. We need the ego to exist, to stay alive, to have a drive in life, and to know what we want out of our life experience. Without the ego, our physical body would simply die prematurely from lack of wanting, rendering our life experience completely pointless. However, because we are generally not fully aware of the intricate involvement and presence of our ego, fear and the ego (partners in crime), often get free reigns of the modulation of our life experience. Fear drives us in a way. Fear is what creates the stories in our mind, that the ego uses to keep us stuck in the identification our ‘world’ and our self have assigned to us. Fear and ego are the writer and the producer of our drama known as Life.
I can understand that all or some of this might feel counter intuitive. Fear has over the years received a lot of bad rap in the spiritual and self-help community, and surely love is the basis of all. However this can be looked at from a different perspective, fear can also propel positive emotions such as excitement, happiness and even actions towards love, as we instinctively as humans, do whatever it takes to move away from discomfort. Sit with it and see for yourself. Why do we do the things we do? What is it that lies at the very bottom, right beneath our decision making and rationalising in life? Why is it that we think fear is a negative thing?
I spent some time reflecting upon fear and its function and meaning in life, and I decided to take my experiencing of fear a bit further than simply acknowledging its multitude and possibly even convoluted layers. I realised that by facing my fear, the smallish quiet one that lurks deep within the intricate matrix of the ’emotional’ self, I was able to work with it more consciously. I started noticing my fear out of the blue whilst waiting at the red traffic lights, at the shops, at work. Little stirrings, flutterings and whisperings of fear, would bubble up from my subconscious and surface into my conscious mind, at random times. This happening really surprised me, as I believed I was a rather chilled person and had overcome the ‘fear thing’. Because I now had my allegorical lantern and pick-axe in hand, as soon as this incredibly faint and fickle sensation of what I understood to be fear came up within me, I would ask myself ‘what is it‘, and started chipping away. This in turn would lead me on a process of elimination, clearing if not clarifying surfacing and fear-based beliefs, which once I looked at closer, almost always turned out to have no meaning to me at all, but were in fact irrational and benign fears from old patterns. In this manner, I kept taking the matter further, popping one bubble at a time. Very often, I came to the conclusion that the core of the fear itself, was something along the lines of me being afraid of being alone or ostrasiced from my community, or a fear of doing without, or not being able to look after my son how I wanted to or until he is of a mature age; all being very valid and real points in a person’s life. Yet, something rather transformative happened when I got to the bottom of the reality of my fears. I came to the realisation that there was a stash of truly irrational fears that I had illogically held onto. A heap of old fear-based stories, that normally would have added to my internal accounts and affect my general life perceiving and decision making, rendering life experiencing ambiguous for me, were now ready to be relinquished as I realised the little importance they truthfully had to me. Things, that really didn’t matter to me in the big picture and that now, once identified, could be forever transmuted. Onion peels duly ready for the compost pile. Once I embodied the main basic concerns in the human life experience, and how they relate to an innate fight or flight response in all of us, a calm overcame me. I have come to understand that this calm, naturally appears for us when we go deep within to the very core and truth of our own being, when we are in that place, we simply know that all is well. When we allow ourselves to go within and hear, it becomes so very obvious that there is something bigger than ourselves that has our back. We come into remembrance of the life force that is our makeup, and that is our meaning.
As a result of my pondering on fear and its meaning in the human life experience, I came to realise that understood correctly, f-ear is really our friend. It is the one uncomfortable sensation within our being that pushes and coaxes us to tune within and truly listen, giving us the contrast required to understand the questions, ‘what of me is truth’ and ‘what of me is not truth’. Fear, teaches us about our own power in this World, as well as what it is we ultimately desire from the life experience that we are having. Fear, is part of the very process of truth realisation that leads us on the path of adulthood and conscious living, and for those inclined, possibly enlightenment. The thing is, we need to be able to face our fear, look into it, step into it courageously, so that we can then befriend it. Befriending fear, in my experience, doesn’t mean that it magically goes away, it means we have the courage to consciously walk with fear and see what insights it has to offer. And as such, it doesn’t uncontrollably reign us, we use it for our own benefits, truth realisation and empowerment.
But who am I to tell you this? Make fear your companion, listen to it, feed your demon, and see for yourself.