Making Friends With Our Fears
We are in an automatic state of overload.
Achievement, status, and acquisition of material possessions have become the symbols of success and the peak of the purpose of modern living.
Yet many are rarely truly happy.
We suffer epidemically from depression and anxiety with heart disease being the number one killer in the world.
We have been programmed to fear that we do not have enough, that we will never have enough, that the gateway to happiness is through striving ever harder to accumulate more possessions to feel safe and secure.
“If only I had a better car or a new house, I would be happy.”
“If only I had more money in the bank, I would feel secure”.
These are some of the typical thoughts that keep us worrying about tomorrow, projecting ahead into the future.
We try to control our lives by figuring out how things will work out so we can feel safe and secure.
But the truth is, we don’t have control.
We don’t have true control over anything in our lives.
We don’t know what will happen next.
We don’t know how the future will unfold.
Nothing is truly under our control and this is a terrifying thought for most of us.
So we try to gain control over our lives by chasing after more “stuff”, by being busy, by overstimulating our senses.
Of course, accumulating more does not bring us ultimate happiness.
We may feel thrilled for a few moments, hours, or days, but very soon the novelty wears off and we are left with a nagging, empty feeling inside, that we are not whole or complete.
We feel somehow disconnected.
Something is missing and we again go out and try to fill the void by buying yet another new thing.
But it never completes us.
We try to fill the empty feeling with a relationship.
But our expectation that another person can fulfill us and make us happy is just another myth of western civilization.
We are left feeling cut off, frustrated and hurt when our partner inevitably lets us down and disappoints us.
They are only human after all and cannot meet all of our needs.
For some of us, this inner void may express itself as loneliness and the terrible pain of isolation.
Some people shut down and isolate even more while others may go out of their way to find company, go out with friends, be at a party or other social gathering, to avoid the pain of this loneliness.
Yet even in the midst of the most jovial company we can feel distant and sad.
The trouble is, running from our fears does not make them go away. It only perpetuates their existence.
By facing our fears we can make friends with them and overcome them with loving-kindness and compassion.
What happens when we face our fears is that we become able to be present to what we are feeling, and that brings us closer to a peaceful state of acceptance.
When we can let go of our fears we can experience the beauty of nature all around us and the miracle of life in each moment.
This is sometimes easier said than done, but once the trick is learned, it becomes much simpler with practice.
So how do we make friends with our fears?
The first step is to become aware of what we are fearful of.
Sometimes our fears manifest as anger.
Underneath anger is a fearful clinging as we try to control an outcome to our liking.
When we experience anger, we need to remind ourselves that we are not in control, of anything!
We need to do the same when we experience fear or anxiety.
So, the next time we find ourselves feeling fear, anxiety or anger, it is necessary to stop and notice the emotion.
Then, become aware that we are holding on to the emotion.
We will hold on to the emotion because we have an underlying belief that it is necessary for us to feel this way.
This is a form of unconscious living.
The reality is, it is not necessary for us to feel this way.
Knowing we have no ultimate control over our lives, we can learn to live more and more in a state of open-hearted loving kindness towards ourselves and others.
Once we have identified, acknowledged, and experienced what it is we are feeling, we have become conscious of the emotion.
Then we are in an ideal position to send the emotional waves of love and compassion.
Imagine you are surrounding and engulfing the emotion in loving kindness.
Do not judge yourself for having the emotion.
Just notice it is there, feel it and send it lots of love and compassion.
The feeling will dissolve and you will feel much better.
You will start to experience more peace and contentment.