Facing Fear and UncertaintyMay 04, 2023
Many of you may know fear and uncertainty from different challenges in life. Many of you might know fear as a chronic, almost constant state. Whether it's because you've been facing addiction, loneliness, chronic illness, poverty, loss or grief, these types of situations when faced properly can take us to a new precipice in life. When speaking of fear and uncertainty, I want to first address the situations that bring it on instantly…a cancer diagnosis, a partner leaving or dying, addiction that has brought us to our knees, and things of this nature.
When we don’t know the future, and we never do, we want to control things, pretend our situation is not as it is, wallow in self-pity, or ruminate on the worst case scenario. All of these are outlooks that either bring us to paralysis and inaction, depression, or worst of all, fulfill the grim prophecy we fear might happen.
We cannot work with what is when we are obsessed with the future or the past. It is only in the now that we conquer fear and replace it with acceptance and faith. This is where true healing and progress can occur.
Think about anything you have been fearful about and you will see it has been either based on analysis of the past or on what might happen in the future.
Illness can consume us quickly if we are continually dwelling on what might happen instead of having faith that healing and wellness are possible. I have seen many people, including myself, become much worse once a diagnosis has been handed down. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy from which we can never be “cured.” The word disease implies that. We say I have a disease and so we condemn ourselves to that.
I have also seen many people dispense with their fear and overcome “disease” against all odds. Thank God they did not listen to a doc’s prognosis of 6 weeks to live. What if someone stops trying to heal because someone (whether a trusted source or not) has said there is no cure, no hope, and that’s it. I do realize that there are situations where we must accept imminent death and not put our head in the sand, but we have nothing to lose when we remain hopeful and resolved in our innate ability to heal along with all the necessary protocols.
Life becomes completely different when our death is right before us. If we can live each day with this in the forefront, our priorities greatly change.
I have much more to say about illness, disease, and seizing the moment. That will be in other future newsletters and blogs.
Right now, I want to focus on fear and how that feeds certain aspects of our lives. It can paralyze us. It can propel us into compulsive behavior and perfectionism. It can keep us paranoid and untrusting of …well everything, even breathing fresh air.
I have heard several people in the weekly groups bring up deep fear that arises after they have taken action to embark on a new project or teach a new class. Basically, it comes up when we are more vulnerable to scrutiny and judgment. Immediately after said class or session, they describe becoming filled with self-doubt, re-hashing whether they did this right or that right. I have heard this so often over the many years of teaching presence and awareness, that it is predictable. We all have it to some degree or another.
In our Practical Awareness course, we call this inner considering. It is all about self-absorption and the fear of how others are perceiving us.
Inner considering has no basis in truth, it leaks a lot of good energy that we could use to observe ourselves, and it creates reluctance to move forward. Taken to a certain degree, it can paralyze us.
I have experienced colleagues who were top notch classical pianists who could whip out a near perfect performance of a very difficult piece and still complain about the few notes they missed in ”measure 126.” Those colleagues, as skilled and refined musicians as they were, did not make it in their careers because their own egoism ate them alive. When we do a good job and spend hours worrying about the small mistakes we made, we are gripped in self-loathing and unworthiness. Our perfectionism is the result of very deep low self-esteem and the perfect becomes the enemy of the good.
There are many of us who can’t get anything off the ground because of our fear. We have dreams of doing this or that but our own self-sabotage and low self-esteem keep us from doing it. We justify not taking action with a thousand things. We are afraid it might not be good enough. It might be criticized by others. It might not be successful (which often is a judgment value that depends on other people’s opinion), so we don’t do it.
When we follow our passion without caring what anyone else thinks, it gets done. My god, what if Van Gogh had stopped painting because no one was buying his paintings. What if Mozart had stopped composing because he was booed off the stage.
We have to deal with our fear as vulnerability when following our passion. We have to see that it is based in non-reality and keeps us from accepting what is. Our vulnerability is crucial in life.
Besides perfectionism and paralysis, fear and uncertainty can bring on paranoia. We think everyone is out to get us, everyone is against us, everything will make us sick and more. Fear like this can inundate everything we do. In this case, our imagination takes over and we lose trust in the wisdom of our bodies, our good minds, and the inherent nature of human beings to love. Conspiracy theories abound and rule our lives.
Fear is perpetuated by mass hysteria joined together around a common enemy whether that be government, germs, toxins, etc.
Consider how and when we don’t trust, and you will find that it is based in fear. We must find ways to trust in the inherent goodness of people, the inherent ability for our bodies to adapt and heal, the miraculous regeneration and balance of nature, and the power of consequence in the face of greed and destruction.
We must be vigilant and mindful regarding danger, toxins, and germs but not paranoid, militant, and dogmatic. We seek to control every little thing when fear is in the mix and this brings about the opposite. When we control, we do not trust.
Trust is risky and it means fully abandoning fear and doubt in the face of worst case scenarios. This is how people survived the Holocaust. This is how people miraculously overcome paralysis, disease and terminal illness. We could take a fatalistic approach and accept there is no cure or there is no way out, that we are forever plagued by a “disease” but why in the world would any of us do that? It is not natural to the human spirit. We are creatures of hope and we can beat things against all odds. We can transform and we can overcome.
What do we have to lose in trying...? Fear and Uncertainty.
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