In Response to Fear ... Is It Really Fear?
Thank you, readers, for some really thoughtful responses to my post about the dreaded F word. They have caused me to really think about where fear actually resides and have inspired a whole new post.
Fear exists because of our thinking, and our thinking resides in the past. However, that thinking that keeps us in fear is rooted in reacting, not in responding. Responding is being in the moment and using our feelings as a guide instead of what we've been taught is the "right" thing to do in similar circumstances.
One of my favorite quotes is by Emerson (actually, many of my favorite quotes are by Emerson): "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."
His point is that we should say what we feel today even though it may contradict what we said yesterday. If we don't abort our old actions when we get new information, we will be doomed to live in an endless loop of past thought, which is reacting to everyone and everything else instead of being - really BEING - in the present.
Fear can only reside in the past and based upon past experiences unless it is authentic fear, which has to do with physical survival.
So trust your instincts and your intuition as your guide, even though that may be unfamiliar at first.
When has your gut ever steered you wrong in making decisions?
Yet many of us are conditioned - over time - to memorize the "correct" answers (whatever those are) to pre-existing situations so that we will be accepted, rewarded, encouraged, and, basically liked. The challenge is never in feeling what we really feel, it's in not rocking the collective boat - that boat we've all subconsciously agreed to hold sacred so no responding has to be involved.
And the only way to do that is to suppress those feelings and think our way out of - and thus back in to - submission.
The true way out is to be in the moment and really get in touch with exactly how we are feeling in any given situation. Your body is a powerful guide and is sending you powerful messages all the time. It will take courage, which is often unfamiliar, to really be present and to ask for what you want. And it takes one person with courage to begin to transform the world.
Once one person stands for what s/he really wants and asks for that with confidence and courage instead of backing down, a new precedent will be set.
Be aware - it's that first step that's always the doozie because it challenges the perceived status quo. So even the opinions I hold about myself are not necessarily true, especially if they are formed from the past. I don't even need to take what I hear in my own mind personally if it occurs from the past and in a space of fear.
The uncomfortable feelings that will undoubtedly be stirred up from this new space are not necessarily "bad" - they will produce a response if they are really considered from a new level of awareness. When I played basketball in college, that feeling I got in my stomach and my chest from my pounding heart right before the opening tip was, in some cases, a bit unfamiliar but caused me to be much more present in that moment and aware of my actions so I could be present in the game
instead of sulking or brooding over a past game or even a past mistake.
To recap: where does fear reside? In the past, in reaction mode. If I really stop and think - in the moment, that would be responding, and therefore could not be fear.
So how much of what happens in the world is true action? If I'm not taking action from my own unique perspective, I will be forever destined to wait for someone else to act first, which means I am not thinking and am therefore not in true action. Courage appears to be the missing ingredient. When courage meets confidence - not arrogance, but confidence - the result has to be a new outcome.
Which begs the all-important question: What Do You Really Want?
So with all this in mind, here's the formula in concrete terms (not mathematical equivalents - I was told there'd be no math):
Desire + Action (Courage + Confidence -> Outcome -> Results/Time -> Transformation
Or, in the shortened version: Awareness + Artful Action/Time = Transformation
The higher we climb, the more that we see. The more that we see, the less that we know. The less that we know, the more that we yearn. The more that we yearn, the higher we climb. (Thanks to Dan Fogelberg "High Country Snows.")
The true bottom line now: living is about learning and learning is a continual process. Just when we think we know all there is to know, someone changes the questions. When those questions come from our own minds instead of from something someone else said somewhere, that's when we can know - really know - that we're making progress. The true victory will be when there is no more need for questions; when the knowing is enough and we go from transformation to transcendence.
Until then, I'm polishing up my questions and concentrating on being present - in the moment - outside the fear of the past and other people's opinions.
Who's with me?