Fearing Fear

I fear not death nor do I fear life,
But I fear the fear of both as my peers;
If I could release one fear from my fears
It would be the fear of fearing these fears.
─ Samah Khan

Often I work with people who are anxious, afraid, panicky and fearful about their life. Their fears are about the unknowns and the future. Consternation about fear can cause a state of confusion with an inability to decide because there is no guarantee. Some people can hardly seem to name, categorize or label their encounter with fearing their fears.

There are many levels and types of fear. They run the gamut just like a bell curve starting with the vaguest to the most extreme panic that might kill them in a flash. The word fear is the general term that is used to describe this dynamic experience and perhaps it is a constant companion along with feeling afraid all the time.

Starting with the simplest emotional reaction can be an existential vague feeling of discomfort, uneasiness, or a disquiet that can hardly be named. A sudden sensation that triggers an alarm of fright or a dread might occur for a short period of time in the presence an impending doom or a possible harm. Dread feels like one is powerless to avoid a situation such as bullying. Some people dread going to work because of intimidation.

Terror feels like being frozen to the spot and a person cannot move because there is a great danger. Horror is a state which combines fear, shock, revulsion and disgust about something that happens. Inner body shaking and trembling transpires and is felt within oneself when there is a state of a reverent awe or one is terrified by a sudden calamity. The extreme opposite end of the spectrum is a panic attack that overtakes a person unexpectedly and can even take your breath away. Sheldon Kopp said, Panic is the paralyzing anticipatory fear of being afraid.

Courage

What is needed, rather than running away or controlling or suppressing or any other resistance, is understanding fear; that means, watch it, learn about it, come directly into contact with it. We are to learn about fear, not how to escape from it. – Jiddu Krishnamurti

The opposite of fear can be different things to different people. Some of the feeling states of mind needed to counteract fear might be faith, trust, peace, calmness, or courage. The root of the word courage is cor. It is the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage had a very different definition than it does today. According to the dictionary the word courage originally meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Courage can be a quality of spirit inside a person that harnesses bravery, guts, and daring to face their fear and move through it instead of avoiding it. The use of courage is a spiritual quality that can be used to overcome fear such as having the courage to drive again after an accident, to be successful or even to be disliked.

When there is any type of feeling of fear a very simple exercise to meet the fear is to feel your feet on the ground, and as you breathes in say “here” and as you breathe out say “now.” This is a grounding exercise that can quickly bring you back to the present moment in the here and now with a feeling of steadfastness.

Another way to know more about a current fear is to say, “When I am scared that_________ then I am afraid that__________.

 If we had the luxury of certainty, we wouldn’t need courage. ─ Robert J. Furey, PH.D.


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