Fear’s a feeling many of us would lump into the ‘undesirable’ category. We’ve all felt it but would rather not feel it too much thanks very much. But what if we didn’t categorise feelings into good and bad – what if we just called them all ‘information’? So what could fear be telling us? Linda Kohanov has a great way of looking at the messages behind feelings.
Fear calling – is anyone home?
The message of fear is ‘intuitive, focused awareness of something that is a threat to our physical, mental, emotional or spiritual well-being’. It is telling us to identify the threat and decide what action we need to take to move to a position of safety – that doesn’t sound like something to be afraid of – it sounds vital to our survival!
It doesn’t mean you have to run every time the hair on the back of your neck stands up – it just means you need ask yourself if you need to take action. This could be gather more information before you move ahead, move ahead but at a slower pace, change direction slightly, set a boundary or sometimes get the hell outta there.
Are you brave enough to be scared?
Our social conditioning can give us a hard time around fear – ‘scaredy cat’, ‘get hard or go home’ and ‘fear is for wimps’ and other thoroughly unhelpful macho insults. So is it cowardly to feel fear? I actually think it’s very brave to admit you feel fear when you are likely to get ridiculed for it.
If you don’t listen to it you can never get the wisdom it holds. There’s a funky saying ‘what you resist persists’ (wouldn’t want to have to say that quickly after a night on turps…). So if we resist fear how does it persist? Linda reckons it intensifies into a number of feelings – not surprisingly none of them very pleasant.
Fear on steroids…
Would you like to upgrade your fear to a dose of worry and anxiety? Or maybe even panic and terror? Or would dulling your senses culminate in dissociation (cut yourself off from the sensations of your body) work better? If that’s not to your nervous systems liking then we could just go for confusion. Emm, now you mention it facing your fears here and now is sounding more and more enticing.
I’ll have ‘fight’ thank you waiter
Our nervous systems have their preferred default – mine is ‘fight’. This means I get really focused on a solution eg. research, comparison of options etc – information gives me comfort. I also like a dollop of ‘flight’ which comes in the form of numbing through busyness (it’s a warning sign when I start doing lots of housework…). My husband is more of a ‘freeze’ man where he becomes immobilised into procrastination. You will have your favourite too – do you know what it is?
Travel once, travel well
Our feeling will nag us, but once they feel heard they back off. Lean into them. If you imagine leaning into fear is a bit like driving to the shops to get something you really need. If you turn back half way you will just have to start all over again. It’s better use of your energy to just go the whole way once and get the message your fear holds and come home to emotional balance.
If you choose not to listen when fear has something to say it will only increase the volume – no one likes to be ignored when they’re only trying to help. So next time fear comes and whispers in your ear don’t spiral down the rabbit hole of self-judgement or metaphorically clap your hands over your ears and say ‘la la la la – I can’t hear you’ – just take a moment to listen. Your fear is on your side.
Please share with your friends – no need to be fearful!