Is Fear Holding You Back?

nothing to fear but fearOnce upon a time I would have told you that I’m not afraid of anything.

Well, except maybe falling backwards downstairs…

And getting down from high places….

And talking in large groups of people. Or on the telephone.

And…

But I’m not afraid of anything.

At least that was the lie I told myself. Until I was forced by circumstances and personal tragedy to face many of my deeply-seated fears head on. Between 2012 and 2013 I faced and worked my way through my biggest fears of losing my family,  my security, and my identity (who I am and who it is that I present to the world), and of being alone. I now know that it was something that I needed to do, something that I needed to face and conquer in order to get out of a living situation that was emotionally and psychologically abusive.

One reason why I told myself this big lie of not being afraid was because I do believe that it is those things we fear which we will have to face. If I had no fears, I wouldn’t have to face anything. Makes sense, right?

Even after successfully navigating my way through the events of 2012/13 I still tried to tell myself “Oh, I faced those fears and now I don’t have any.” But, again I am finding that this statement is a lie I have been telling myself.

When you carry within you a host of intangible fears the world seems to become a dangerous place. And you are always on alert. Katie Weatherup, a skilled shamanic healer and teacher living in California, describes this as having a jaguar up a tree, hyper alert and watching out for danger. She teaches a meditation to help calm this jaguar and bring it down from the tree which is very effective for easing anxiety and panic attacks (two things I have been prone to in recent years).

Certainly, having an awareness of danger potentials is a good thing. Fear, in this way, is a useful and necessary tool. After all, those who don’t have this awareness tend not to survive very long. But, the source of potential dangers has changed drastically over the past 10,000 years. I’ve not had to worry about saber-toothed tigers ever in my life, but I do make sure to look both ways before crossing a road, and I am very careful about what personal information I share over the internet.

I’m not thinking about these easily spotted fears with an obvious cause and fix though. Afraid of being hit by a car – use the cross walk, look both ways, don’t linger in a street. But, what if the thing you are afraid of has no obvious source?

@Walt Kelly 1971In conversations with others I have found that we share many fears in common – a fear of failing, a fear of “being found out” (not because you are doing something bad, but because people may realise you’re the fraud you keep imagining yourself to be), a fear of being afraid, a fear of not having a “tribe” of our own. These tiny fears can build up over time, and they grow and merge together. Until we find ourselves afraid to launch a new venture, afraid to leave the confines of our home or safe haven, whether those walls be physical or constructed only within our minds.

And we find ourselves in a situation so aptly described by Walk Kelly’s comic strip character, Pogo: We have met the enemy, and he is us.

But why is this? Why does fear become so pervasive within us?

Well, there are a variety of reasons.

We have a genetic predisposition to notice those things which may be a danger to start with. As mentioned above, those people who didn’t notice the potential dangers around them 10,000 years ago tended to be eaten by saber-toothed tigers, or fall off high places, or eat poison berries. It’s the genes of those who did have this inborn sense of awareness who passed on their genetic blueprints.

I think we also cannot discount fears inherited from our ancestors. There is growing awareness that emotions are not felt only in the mind, they are felt and stored in the billions of cells of our body. And the information stored within these cells is received from our parents and grandparents, and passed on to our children and grandchildren!

I would recommend reading “The Biology of Belief” by Bruce Lipton, PhD and “Emotion Code” by Bradley Nelson for more insight into these ideas.

Fear is not the enemy!

Really, it isn’t. And this is something that I need to remind myself of on a regular basis.

Harness your fear and make it an ally.  ~ Kay Gillard, Healer and Teacher

We can do this through exploring these fears and facing them rather than pretending they don’t exist. This can be done through mediation or shamanic journey work, through writing, through Emotion Code work, or just by talking through and exploring your fears with a trusted friend.

Recently, I had opportunity to explore some of my own fears and this was where my explorations led me.

Initial fear: A fear of taking the next step in my healing practice.

Because:

  • What if people think I’m a fraud.
  • What if I’m no good.
  • What if I fail.

Still, I felt at some level that I had not quite reached the core fear, the underlying fear which was keeping me from taking this next step.

That didn’t come until about 24 hours later, when it suddenly hit me.

My fear of taking the next steps comes from a fear of claiming my own power.

But where does that fear come from?

And that is what I am working on now. Identifying a fear doesn’t make it go away. But now that I know what is there I can do work to make it my ally as I move forward in life.

What fears are holding you back in life?

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Filed under Healing Practice, Shamanic Healing

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