So, I’ve decided that Bill Hicks has some truth is likening the world to a ride at an amusement park eh? Well that may seem amusing for some, particularly someone such as Hicks (being a comedian), but what about the real horrors and suffering that exist within the ‘real’ world we hear so much about? Those pains and travesties that exist beyond ourselves in world without and those that exist in the world within?
It is effectively the root nature of all the topics that I hope to explore in the course of the writings and links and references I will be putting up on here. Where does the boundary between animalistic survival and human consciousness lay? Is it possible to comprehend fear and suffering in a manner that gives us each practical steps towards overcoming it or at least to be able to bear the burden of it a little more easily?
This roughly trod path that veers us into the deep and dark jungle of our mind is where I find myself now taking some first steps, both in an attempt to deal with the inner and outer fears I find in my own life, I’m writing this both in the hope that others will respond and that we can share in the learning experience. I was given a fantastic book by my girlfriend for my birthday – its title is ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’ by Susan Jeffers and as I’m sure you guessed the title is the inspiration for writing this initial post delving into the realm of fear and making that first step to coming to terms and eventually deal with it.
Fear: is it something we are defined by or a learning issue?
For many of us, we consider that worrying and the fears that underlie them are deeply ingrained within us, it is a psychological problem that is located somewhere inside the dark recesses of our mind. Susan Jeffers however considers that fear is not a psychological problem but an educational problem, not in the sense of school in that we can each learn to overcome and deal with fear. We can gain acceptance that fear is simply a fact of life rather than some horrendous problem that is never going to change. Change can indeed come by re-educating the mind, if we are open to consider it in that manner however.
Jeffers goes on to describe her own suffering at the hands of fear, usually those of us who suffer from fear that overrides what we want out of life are our own worst enemies; we have an inner voice that continually says things like ‘you’d better not change your situation. There’s nothing else out there for you. You’ll never make it on your own. Don’t take a chance – you’ll probably make a mistake and then you’ll be even more sorry for yourself!’. Eventually, if we wish for it, there comes a point when we have had enough of that annoying voice in the back of our mind and we decide that it is holding us back from our true potential at gaining happiness.
Awareness is the first step
To begin this process though we first need to become aware of that which we fear. A simple enough step for some but to truly delve into what we fear actually involves taking courage, along with concious reflection and introspection, particularly in attempting to find the root cause of such a grievance or deep concern.
However the very turning of our attention to ourselves is in itself amongst the most painful and courageous things we can endure, particularly doing so in a manner which casts asides expectations and predispositions towards ourselves. Anyone seeking to even consider this step has my greatest respect and support. Feel free to write in the comments section below if you are struggling with this – as I said earlier, I’ve started this writing in the hope that others can share in the experience and process of change and personal healing.
It is a consideration that we can only take when we make that choice to do so, only each of us in our sovereign individual right can make such a decision – nobody else can do it for us. If we seek to fill the terrifying chasm within us with reliance on something externally (whether that be a person, experience or substance) we will only continue to live life in dependence of that external factor which puts either great pressure or reliance on that, even if we don’t mean to.
True freedom from fear can only come from within, which like many things in life involves taking a chance. In fact, as Louise Hay; author of You Can Heal Your Life, put it “living is taking chances”. Indeed, its probably worth considering that choosing not to take a chance is of itself taking a chance with life, something which I personally struggle to apply in my own life as a professional procrastinator!
So, the first step is to gain an accurate awareness of that which we have concern for, worry over, fear and which ultimately cause us grief, anxiety and stress. Gaining this awareness takes courage on our own part to cast our gaze upon ourselves and work out what it is within us that is making us unhappy and preventing us from having the things in life that we want and deserve.
If you are struggling to gain the confidence or courage to make this initial step of awareness about fears don’t worry – try to keep things as simple as possible to begin with; try and write some little things that you want to be able to do; nothing is too small for this practise! Try just one or two if this seems somewhat intimidating, alternatively if you’re a little more emboldened pop a couple more down (although no more than 5 for the moment!) or try a more tricky fear or worry. Now, once you’ve got your list of desires down, try to think of what is preventing you from gaining each of these desires in your life. Highlight and cast your awareness over the things which are holding you back, consider what small actions you could take to accomplish some small progress here – taking even a tiny change towards achieving what you want is a brilliant step forwards! What you have managed to do by even lifting the pen to write and name your hopes and fears is the process itself to overcoming your fears; it all begins with an action, no matter how small.
Alternatively, if you are having difficulty in trying to identify the root cause of your worries then panic not – gaining accurate insights into the underlying causes is a slow but consistent process and requires dedication to ourselves in order to achieve this. I’m going to go into this in a little more depth in part 2 with probably the most powerful practical tool any of us can give ourselves – its a tool that we all have; our breath, and no I don’t mean whether we’re using toothpaste or not…!